As a native Missourian who has lived in the Show-Me state off-and-on for a lifetime, I have have met John Ashcroft on several occasions. The first time was in the very early 1970's when he was working at Southwest Missouri State College in Springfield (now Missouri State University) and running for Congress. Some friends and I were sitting around a typical college apartment late one night after a typical college party had ended, and young Mr. Ashcroft knocked at the door, came in, and shook hands all around. As a college Young Democrat I knew that he wouldn't be getting my vote. But I was polite - as I always am - and shook his holy hand.
Holy? Yes, John Ashcroft was the son of the President of Evangel College and Central Bible College in Springfield. Daddy was a major wheel in the Assemblies of God Church, a sad fact of life that would color his son's view of the world up until the present day.
The arch-conservative and highly puritanical Mr. Ashcroft couldn't be bothered with serving in Vietnam. During the war years he took six student deferments and one occupational deferment - though how being a college administrator at a podunk school really merited a draft exclusion has always been a question of concern to the thinking classes.
John Ashcroft lost that primary race for Congress in 1972 to a used car dealer from Sarcoxie, Missouri. Later that year he licked his wounds and accepted an appointment to the state auditor's position when the incumbent, Kit Bond, was elected governor. Two years after that Ashcroft was defeated when he tried to be elected state auditor in his own right. John Danforth, who was Attorney General of Missouri, came to his friend's rescue and appointed him as one of his assistants. It was during that time that Ashcroft shared an office with future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. It is doubtful if they got together at the Thomas pad on weekends to watch movies.
John Danforth was elected to the United States Senate in 1976, and his buddy Ashcroft finally managed to get himself elected to a public office. He served as Attorney General of Missouri for eight years, and in 1984, during the Reagan craziness, was elected governor of the state where he served for eight more years. During those eight years he doggedly saw to it that state employees did not receive one damned dime in raises. He also put more cops on the streets, increased prison space, and oversaw a marked increase in the number of juveniles brought to trial and locked away.
After leaving the governor's office in early 1993, John Ashcroft sat at home reading the Good Book and speaking in tongues for several months until a suitable job opening presented itself. That opening occurred when his mentor, John Danforth, decided not to run for re-election to the United States Senate. Ashcroft was again able to slide into an elected office on the Danforth coattails. It was during his term in the Senate when he helped to form a barbershop quartet called The Singing Senators. The other members of that august group were Jim Jeffords of Vermont, Trent Lott of Mississippi, and Larry Craig of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Men's Room.
John Ashcroft's campaign for re-election to the Senate in 2000 put him into the record books - by becoming the only incumbent United States Senator in history to be defeated for re-election by a dead man. To this day, one of my proudest moments as a good public citizen was casting my vote for the dearly departed - Mel Carnahan.
But once again, John Ashcroft was pulled from the ignominy of defeat by a good Samaritan. Shortly after George Bush stole the presidential election of 2000, he announced that Ashcroft would serve as Attorney General of the United States. After one term, during which the United States suffered its most lethal domestic attack in history, Bush sent the righteous Mr. Ashcroft packing. Having been accustomed to living on the public dole, he then dusted off his Rolodex and set up shop as a lobbyist.
And that, in a nutshell (albeit a big, ugly nutshell) is the resume of John David Ashcroft. Today, however, it was learned that he isn't done yet. What could possibly cap such a stellar career? How about heading an ethics committee for a notorious mercenary outfit that has sucked down our tax dollars by the billions?
Yup, John Ashcroft is going to Blackwater - now called Xe - where he will teach those crazy bastards to behave in an ethical manner!
Life just doesn't get any stranger than that!