...then there’s still defending Dennis Hastert stupid.

Hastert, if you’ve been distracted lately, pleaded guilty earlier today to the (I’ll admit) weird crime of lying about why he was withdrawing money from the bank, and admitted guilt to the much more horrific crime of being a serial abuser of his students.

Rememeber how Tom “The Hammer” Delay and others had lined up to defend Hastert’s character? It’s worth noting that the letters were written before the particulars of the accusations against him were made public. That would give them something of a break (“Hey, I only thought he was accused of financial crimes!”) in terms of the wording of the letters, at least. Except that the judge gave the letter-writers the chance to withdraw their support after it became clear that they weren’t defending a liar, but an ephebophile, but they decided, “Nope, I’m good.”

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If you wanted to squint really hard and still defend the letter-writers, I guess it’s theoretically possible to imagine them saying, “I have a hard time believing that the allegations are true.” It happens—a former coworker of mine was convicted of an even more horrific crime, and my first reaction was to think about how different that was from the person I “knew” at work, but a) I got over that after literally a minute; and b) I sure as hell never wrote a letter defending him.

But now, after he’s admitted, in open court, that yep, he did it, the people who supported him must be running for the hills, right? Well...

Former House colleague Tom Ewing played the “I never personally witnessed him molest anyone” card:

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“I’m speaking of the time I served with him in public office,” Ewing, who represented Illinois’ 15th district from 1991-2001, said on Wednesday. “And he is not accused of any wrongdoing during that period.

He added, “His community of Yorkville loved Dennis Hastert and he served in their school system. I don’t know — he didn’t seem to have — he certainly didn’t have that reputation.”

Former California Representative John Doolittle is still going with, “You know who the real victim is here?” And if you’re thinking, “Wait, no way is he that stupid”...remember how I said the part about getting over shocked disbelief in about a minute?

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“I don’t know anything about the people who have come forward,” he said. “I know somebody was trying to extort him for money and instead of punishing that person, why I guess they’ve been given immunity so they can cook up some phony crime of structuring and go after Denny Hastert and try and hurt his reputation and everything. That bothers me.”

How the hell do they find these people? And then elect them to positions of power for years on end (10 years in the House for Ewing, 18 for Doolittle)?