Like Tony Soprano, Attorney General Darrell McGraw takes it personally when less-distinguished folks question his judgment.
The crosshairs of such a man -- he the unchecked, who buys subpoenas by the barrel -- must be harrowing.
This is the only explanation we can muster as to why the West Virginia Legislature has opted not to stand up for itself, challenging McGraw's misappropriation of its state power and our state tax dollars for his own political gain. The "Sunshine Act," a measure that would require the attorney general to, among other sacrifices, tell the people who he is suing on their behalf, is reportedly stalled under the Capitol dome for lack of will to engage.
Not that we suppose engaging with McGraw would be happy fun. In politics as in life, the battles that really matter never are. And this one -- which portends to confiscate the illegitimate lifeblood of an egomaniacal warrior lawyer glad to sue away this state's reputation if to boost his own career -- will be messy and ugly.
It also will be well worth it.
Far from the "consumer" champion he describes himself to be, Attorney General McGraw is a cancer on our state's business climate. His activist antics and hysterical rhetoric are framed almost as if to warn expanding companies that West Virginia isn't worth their trouble.
Case in point: when called out to answer criticism that he's handing out state-derived "consumer" lawsuits as a means of rewarding his plaintiff lawyer campaign contributors, then using state settlement proceeds himself, McGraw played the anti-corporate heavy. Speaking to the MetroNews Network, he called his critics in the business community "outlaws," "crooks," and "thieves."
He should talk in such pejoratives -- because now that the sunlight is shining, the people eventually will dole them out themselves.
They'll read the stories of how McGraw's lawsuits really went down against Purdue Pharma and other companies. They'll see how his lawyer pals made millions; how voters and the state got nothing; and how no greater good was done for the "consumer" after all.
"Sunshine Act" or not, this attorney general will never again operate in the darkness.
Maybe the Legislature will soon change its mind. Either way, better informed West Virginians will name their own "crooks" and "thieves" when they head to the ballot box again in 2008.