ILLINOIS GOV. ROD Blagojevich and Pennsylvania state Sen. Vince Fumo may not have broken any laws.
Could be the presumption of innocence is a shelter so sturdy it will protect them even from the heavy weight of the allegations piling up against them.
Who knows? It may be possible to auction off a U.S. Senate seat or to funnel millions of dollars in other people's money into accounts you have free access to without violating the criminal code.
Maybe they're not guilty, just crooked.
They still could be poster boys for the Pathological Arrogance Foundation. I'd write a check.
It's worth a small donation to learn how anybody can get that full of himself without exploding.
The transcripts of Blagoje- vich's blatant bartering of Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat would embarrass a grave-robber. But the guv showed up for work a day after his arrest as if nothing had happened.
Maybe nothing will. Patrick Collins, a former federal prosecutor who sent the last governor of Illinois to jail, told the Washington Post yesterday that the tapes of Blagojevich's sleazy back-room dealings alone aren't enough to convict him.
But it's enough to tell you what a slimy slug he is. It's enough to make you want a bath after you read the details of his high-level huckstering.
A job for his wife, a million in campaign funds, maybe an ambassadorship. This guy felt entitled to every dime he could scheme from the highest bidder.
Even after it was common knowledge that his conduct was being probed by federal investigators, he hung out his shingle to solicit illegal offers.
Now, as the stain spreads, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and the Service Employees International Union have to struggle to keep from being tainted by the open sewer that is Blagojevich's mouth.
They may be guilty of nothing, but they can never be completely innocent as long as their names are being mentioned in the same breath as his.
Illinois has more governors in the big house than the State House. If lawmakers there allow this guy to pick their next senator, they all should be swept out of office with him.
Just weeks after an election that made people feel that their investment in one politician would pay dividends, Blagojevich reminds us that crooks are an occasional byproduct of the Democratic process.
Fumo's alleged plunderings may pale by comparison to the swashbuckling piracy outlined in the Blagojevich indictment.
But let's not sell our local entry short. Getting a utility like Peco Energy to steer 17 million of our dollars to his favorite charity makes Fumo the envy of every two-bit grifter in America.
Guys working short cons and shell games for loose change have to be in awe of a man who can get the Delaware River Port Authority to kick in millions on his say-so to "benefit" a neighborhood charity.
People in other neighborhoods who run raffles and beef-and-beer nights to raise money for window boxes and block parties would trade their handicapped-parking spaces for a rainmaker like Fumo.
Fumo is not charged with steering the money to his favorite charity. Swelling the coffers of his favorite charity with money from companies that owe him favors is not, strictly speaking, against the law.
Drawing down huge sums of that money to finance political campaigns and witch hunts, or using that money and state employees to clear the underbrush on your sprawling farm or ferrying friends around Cape Cod in a yacht owned by the Seaport Museum or services rendered at your mansion by staffers, may be illegal.
Or there may be a loophole in the law large enough to accommodate even this level of influence-peddling and manipulation.
We have to leave that for judges and juries to decide.
But there is a difference between the presumption of innocence and the benefit of our doubt.
You don't need a jury verdict to confirm what your nose is telling you.