Darrell McGraw is not a dumb guy. Fran Hughes is no slouch, either. You'd think they'd know that when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

But now they are in a hell of a hole. The deeper it gets, the faster the attorney general and his top deputy seem willing to dig.

Digging the hole was Hughes' idea. Following her too clever advice, old Quick Draw cut the federal government out of his million-dollar settlements with pharmaceutical companies for alleged overcharges.

The Feds were not to be denied, however, and got their share by withholding Medicaid payments to West Virginia.

McGraw never should have dug the hole in the first place, but, having dug it, this was clearly the time to stop digging. Instead, he delved deeper, challenging in court a federal withhold of more than $400,000.

McGraw received further indication that it was time to stop digging when a district court ruled in favor of the Feds. Nevertheless, he continued excavating, filing an appeal to the unfavorable decision.

Now the federal appeals court has ruled against him.

You would think, at this point, that McGraw and Hughes had reached the bottom of their hole and could dig no further. Guess again.

"This is a battle and you don't always win every skirmish in the battle," Hughes told MetroNews. "This is not going to stop us."

While it may be true that "you don't win every skirmish," losing them all is a clear sign that it's time to admit defeat.

We appreciate her flair for metaphors, but still think that she and McGraw are in more of a hole than a battle -– a hole they will get buried in.

West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse are calling for Hughes to be fired.

Executive Director Richie Heath charges that "the Attorney General's scheme was unambiguously improper and has caused unnecessary waste of taxpayer resources." He argues that Hughes "should be fired for authorizing such a ridiculous scam."

We can dig it.

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