Wake up, West Virginia

By The West Virginia Record | Feb 19, 2010

Kids growing up in dysfunctional homes often have no idea how abnormal their families are.

Not until they get older and start visiting friends do they realize other people's houses aren't filthy, that other dads don't drink too much or abuse them and their moms, that drugs are prescribed by doctors, not illegally bought from dealers.

Normalcy is a revelation –- something they hadn't experienced, much less sought -- and they return to the squalor of their homes with a profound sadness.

People who don't travel much can be similarly deceived. One of the most effective checks against rebellion in the late and unlamented Soviet Union was the captive people's utter ignorance of conditions in the free world. Not knowing how others lived, they could not know how bad their own situation was.

One wonders if self-imposed ignorance helps explain the complacency of many West Virginians with regard to the idiosyncratic behavior of our state attorney general.

Compare Darrell McGraw to Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, for instance, and see if old Quick Draw's shortcomings don't suddenly become more glaring.

McCollum is working with the Florida Legislature to institutionalize reforms he made in the hiring of private law firms to represent state agencies, which include capping fees and publicizing details of contract arrangements. It's all about transparency and good government, he says, and maintaining the public trust.

"We have heard reports of outside law firms getting sweetheart deals to represent states and walking away with millions in fees, and it's repugnant," McCollum said.

He didn't specify which states to which he was referring, but West Virginia surely would be among them. As we've chronicled often on these pages, Quick Draw McGraw's lawyer friends have walked away with millions thanks to the West Virginia taxpayer.

"This legislation will insulate the Florida Attorney General's Office from any situation that could involve a pay-to-play arrangement," McCollum declared.

Imagine that. Florida has an attorney general who rejects opportunities for self-aggrandizement out of respect for the rule of law and the public good. In effect, he doesn't waste millions of taxpayer dollars.

What's wrong with West Virginia?

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