By VIC SPROUSE

CHARLESTON -- There now is absolute confimation that we have officially entered the Seventh Circle of Hell (a little "Liar Liar" movie reference for my lawyer friends out there).

Who'd a thunk it?

In my 13th -- going on 14th -- year in the Legislature, I don't believe I've ever seen the trial lawyers jump jacklegged to the defense of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

But, if you check out The West Virginia Record, it has happened.

Well, well ... isn't that just cozy?

This venue bill (and all the efforts in the singing of "Kumbaya" between the Trial Lawyers and the state Chamber) was SO good ... that even the trial lawyers supported it and are now serving as the muscle for the Chamber. Launching a few RPG's my way.

You have to love West Virginia.

And, horror of horrors, one of my greatest offenses of my rant was the misspelling of Tom DonoHOE or DonoHUE's name.

Ohhhhh, the humanity.

Of course, we all only wish we could be as intelligent (or at least have as good a spell checkers on our computer) as the Trial Lawyers' Association.

Look, the editorial from the head of the Trial Lawyers misses the point as well.

I don't believe I ever called the venue bill horrible. It was certainly better than nothing. That's the argument the West Virginia Chamber has made all along.

You sponsored it ... You supported it ... well, no sh*t. I did sponsor the orginial bill in the hopes that something as strong as the 2003 legislation would pass. And, why would I vote against it, when given the choice of this bill or nothing.

But, even the state Chamber said the bill was watered-down and not all that was needed, but as they said a step in the right direction.

But, again, that's my point.

That's what we do here. To keep everyone happy, to make sure everyone gets a good helping at the proverbial "table," we support and push bills that are "better than nothing."

And, my overall point was this.

If the state Chamber is not pushing for the most substantive legal reforms, who in the hell is? It's not the state Chamber's job to share cookies and milk with the trial lawyers.

If the bargaining position of the state Chamber is let's find a way to work this out and the bargaining position of the Trial Lawyers' is let's roll back some of these reforms, then we end up right where we are, small, baby-step changes and 50th place in every category.

And, of course, the Trial Lawyers bring up the "can't we all just get along" theory of government.

That if we take little baby steps and keep everybody happy, then we as a state will be just hunky-dory (is that spelled correctly? I can see the supercomputers at the Trial Lawyers' Association trying to figure out the correct derivation of the "dory" portion of the "hunky-dory" and if they figure out it's wrong ... wow, champagne corks will be popping as they once again showed their intellectual superiority).

Look, we should all care if the U.S. Chamber considers West Virginia a judicial hellhole. Why? Well, because they are voicing how many major corporations out there feel.

And, trust me, the head of the trial lawyers' association saying it isn't so isn't going to change their opinion of us. Only sweeping reforms will.

Wait, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the head of the U.S. Chamber, Mr. DonoHUE/HOE read the column by the head of the Trial Lawyers Association and said, "You know, we had it all wrong. If the West Virginia Trial Lawyers head says they aren't a judicial hellhole, well, that's good enough for me."

Sprouse has served in the Legislature since 1995 and resides in Charleston. He graduated from Penn State University with a Chemical Engineering degree and currently owns and operates several fitness centers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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