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Who Else Has 'Potomac Fever' In the Swamp We Call Congress?

The possibility of two ethics trials by the House of Representatives ought to shame a Congress whose leaders promised more ethical purity than when Republicans ran the place. But shame is an unknown quantity on Capitol Hill.

"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno wondered last week what it says about ethics in Washington when you can try to negotiate a deal with the ethics committee.

New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel and California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters are both facing trials over their alleged misdeeds.

Unless a deal is struck quickly, those trials could take place in September, less than two months before congressional elections.

Compounding the bad image for Democrats is a birthday bash scheduled for Rangel (he turned 80 this year) at a swank New York hotel with the top ticket priced at $2,500. All the proceeds will go toward his re-election to a 21st term. Rangel’s birthday isn’t this month. It’s in June. Who does he think he is, the Queen of England?

The late author Fletcher Knebel once wrote a column for the old Evening Star newspaper. It was called “Potomac Fever.” The fever is an ailment that affects whichever party rules Congress.

What’s needed is not just a change in who controls Congress, but a change in what controls individual members.

If more members would start putting the country before self, we might not even need an ethics committee. But let the trials and the finger-pointing begin. The public needs to know who else is infected with Potomac fever.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated newspaper columnist and a Fox News contributor.

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Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.