Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans is a bawdy spectacle. Parades and revelry start at daybreak and continue well past sundown. But the fun of "Fat Tuesday" officially ends at midnight as Ash Wednesday ushers in the forty days of abstemious Lent.

The religious significance of the occasion –- and the clear demarcation between self-indulgence and self-denial -- is lost on those revelers who are seen every Ash Wednesday, bleary-eyed and bead-laden, staggering about in the morning mist as church bells call the faithful to penitential services.

It's not hard to imagine State Attorney General Darrell McGraw and Chief Deputy Attorney General Fran Hughes as two of those late night revelers who keep their Carnival going well past the calendar close -– McGraw dressed as a gunslinger, perhaps, Hughes as a saloon girl with a derringer in her garter, and all the local churchgoers in their Sunday best wondering how these two managed to miss the memo about the end of Mardi Gras.

McGraw and Hughes may never have been to Mardi Gras, but they have made a carnival of our court system and they clearly don't know when to quit.

Quick Draw won million-dollar settlements with pharmaceutical companies for alleged overcharges and, with Hughes' convoluted advice, finagled the Feds out of their share of the mandated rebates. Not to be denied, the Feds withheld Medicaid payments to West Virginia.

Unwilling to admit defeat, McGraw challenged the federal withhold, but the district court ruled against him, as did the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals when he appealed.

Still, the determined duo partied on.

McGraw now is asking for an en banc review of the appeals court decision.

If his request is granted, the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals probably will rule against him. Then what? Will he and Hughes take his law-challenged case to the Supreme Court for one last chance to wear a foolscap?

Fran and Darrell, it's not courthouse carnival time anymore. It's over.

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