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I have to admit that I have grown to appreciate St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan. His low-key prose often packs a very subtle wallop. I also admire the way that he doesn’t hesitate to speak out when his sense of injustice is tickled – how many other columnists do you know of who aren’t afraid to point out that sex-offenders are actually human-beings?

Which is why I was so surprised by his kid-gloves report on his recent sit-down with Rep. Roy Blunt. He seems to go out of his way to help ol’ Roy reestablish his tarnished “outsider” credentials. Because Blunt, a former House Majority Leader who served as Minority Whip until 2008, lost a couple of popularity contests with other very big men on the GOP campus, McClellan concludes that he “does not sound like an insider to me.”

McClellan should know by now that the big dogs always have to fight to stay on top of the heap and they don’t always win every fight. And Blunt was one of the biggest of the big dogs right up until 2008 when the New York Times characterized him as “the second most powerful member of his party in the House of Representatives.”

McClellan handled the accusations that have been leveled against Blunt the fundraiser with equal gingerness.  Without referring to the content of the widely distributed ads run by the League of Conservation Voters, which lay out Blunt’s considerable take from energy industries, McClellan dismisses them as simply “negative” campaigning.

The only reference McClellan makes to Blunt’s well-known ability to pull in the corporate bucks is to quote his contention that “he has gotten contributions from every county in the state” because he can “represent their values and understand their concerns.”  However, according to the Washington Post in a 2005 article about Blunt and Delay, respectively the second and first most important people in the House at that time, Blunt’s fundraising networks had considerably more reach and smelled a lot worse:

Blunt and DeLay are fundraising powerhouses. Their political organizations use multiple fundraising committees, have rewarded family members and have provided an avenue to riches for former aides now in the private sector.

Indeed, as Politico reported earlier this year, if Blunt is losing some of his fundraising mojo, it is probably due to the newfound Republican disgust with the corruption with which this quintesential insider has been identified:

Much of the apprehension among rank-and-file Republicans stems from the former House minority whip’s deep Washington ties and worries about how his record in House GOP leadership will be used against him.

Maybe if McClellan had done his homework, he wouldn’t be so willing to help re-christen Roy Blunt as Missouri’s latest Mr. Smith who wants to go (back) to Washington. I would certainly hate to think that McClellan, so often a model of integrity, pulled his punches because he was just too overwhelmed by the attention of a big GOP player.