You probably won’t be too surprised to know that those days are over. It seems Americans will forgive their politicians anything, as long as they’re on the correct side of the aisle. We now elect—and re-elect—people with all kinds of sordid pasts, including DUI arrests. Is it because nobody cares anymore, or because there is a lack of choice? How is it possible that a person who thinks it was okay to drive a car while drunk, risking the lives of everyone else on the road, has the judgment required to hold public office? Apparently here in America, anything is possible.
Here are just a few of the many American politicians elected with DUI records:
U.S. Congressman from Texas, Kevin Brady, was arrested for a DUI in 2005 on the Friday night of homecoming weekend at his alma mater, the University of South Dakota. A year later in November 2006, the Republican congressman defeated his Democratic opponent by more than 2 to 1, despite the arrest. What’s up with that, Texas? DUIs are serious, bad business. For shame.
In March 2007, Arizona State Congresswoman, Trish Groe, was arrested for driving drunk with a suspended license—a felony. The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, which meant she wouldn’t have to give up her seat in the Arizona House of Representatives. She spent only 10 days in jail, though it was her second drunk driving arrest. Despite admitting she was a “functional alcoholic,” Groe was reelected to her seat in November 2008. How is that a good idea, Arizona?
Oklahoma State Senator Jeff Rabon has a long history of drunk driving. In 1989, he was busted twice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, pleading guilty of DUI, driving with a suspended license, driving without insurance, and driving with an open container. For all of that, he received a one-year suspended sentence, two one-year suspended sentences, and 40 hours of community service. Then, he got elected to the Oklahoma Senate. In 2007, he was involved in a 3-car accident that resulted in another DUI arrest. Perhaps Oklahoma voters should have paid more attention to his past before electing him to office.
George W. Bush
On Labor Day weekend of 1979, George W. Bush drove drunk in Kennebunkport, Maine, was pulled over, and arrested. He was 30 years old at the time—old enough to know better. Of course, back in the day, a DUI wasn’t considered as serious as it is now, so all it cost him was $150 and a brief period of no driving in Maine. It certainly didn’t cost him two terms as President of the United States, did it?
When it comes to DUIs, Cheney outdid his boss by double. In the span of eight months, Cheney was busted twice for driving drunk—in November of 1962 at age 21, and again in July 1963 at age 22. Most of the records have been destroyed, but according to a Cheyenne, Wyoming, municipal court docket, he had his license suspended for 30 days and forfeited the $150 bail bond for the first arrest. The second only cost him $100. And he still got to be Vice President. Twice.
What the heck is going on?!
According to one count, 45 state and federal politicians were arrested for DUIs between 2000 and 2008. Many were reelected despite knowingly putting innocent people’s lives at risk. Another source posts a running tally of elected officials busted for drunk driving, including Rhode Island House Minority Leader Robert Watson, who was very recently caught at a checkpoint in East Haven, Connecticut. Not only was he arrested for DUI, but was also charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Who knows what will happen to him. If we’re lucky, he’ll resign in shame. But if he’s like most politicians, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep his office, and then get reelected.
And if Americans will elect a President and Vice President with DUI convictions, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised if Watson and other recent offenders get put back in office as well.