$1,200 an hour?

James Gill is like a fine cabernet sauvignon – he just gets better and better with age

If you find yourself in a small Louisiana town, and see a helicopter coming in to land, you’d better run the other way. There is a good chance that Gov. Bobby Jindal will emerge, and deliver a spiel calculated to turn the strongest stomach.

Jindal vows to visit all 64 parishes in a staggering display of egotism he humorously styles his “Louisiana Working Tour.” He has made a solid start, having descended on out-of-the-way burgs from Anacoco to Napoleonville, from Livonia to Opelousas, lavishing millions on local officials and assuring voters that he is one helluva fellow.

One helluva hypocrite is more like it. The money he hands out comes from the federal government, which in a column intended for national consumption, Jindal has lambasted for “just flinging stuff against the wall, in trillion-dollar chunks, to see what sticks.”

Jindal has also poured scorn on President Barack Obama’s “nearly trillion-dollar stimulus that has not stimulated.”

But Obama’s handout is where Jindal got vast amounts of the money he is shelling out on his tour. He sure expects it to stimulate his own political fortunes.

Jindal does not mention the source of the loot when his helicopter touches down in some remote spot, preferring to append his own signature to the outsized checks he has had printed up. Then he pastes on a smile so that he can pose behind it to be photographed with the admiring throng.

To take credit for largess he elsewhere denounces requires a lot of nerve even for a politician, but Jindal’s supply of hypocrisy appears inexhaustible.

The idea of the tour is apparently to reassure the masses perturbed by his frequent jaunts to raise campaign contributions in distant states, while his name is bandied about as a presidential candidate.

Thus, he appeared in Duson Tuesday to show that his heart is in Louisiana. Where it was Thursday we don’t know, but the rest of him was in Florida raking in some more dough. That was the first time in a few months that Jindal has been spotted in distant parts relieving GOP supporters of their cash, but it was not a desire to concentrate on his duties that caused him to stay home. The law forbids fundraising during a legislative session and for 30 days thereafter.

Jindal has his shtick down pat for the statewide tour. He arrives in town to make the same speech, repeat the same excruciating jokes and hand over money for, say, sewerage repairs, new police equipment or flood protection. People sign up for campaign updates while he spins fairy tales about job creation and new capital investment and everyone feels good.

Local agencies could spend the federal money just as easily without the airborne razzmatazz, of course, and state taxpayers would be better off if Jindal would just mail normal-sized checks and focus on running the state in Baton Rouge.

How much Jindal is spending on his self-promotional tour is unknown, since he is convinced the public’s right to know does not extend to him. However, the cost of the gubernatorial chopper alone was reported last year as $1,200 an hour, so we do know he is taking us for a ride.

He is still riding pretty high in the polls but surely even the small-town voters who flock to the helipad will tumble him sooner or later.

One of the alleged achievements he likes to boast about when he hits town is ethics reform. But if Jindal has brought integrity to Louisiana government, he proves each time his helicopter lands that it has passed him by.


~ by maringouin on Sunday, August 2, 2009.

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