Rep. Chris Bell has officially filed his ethics complaint against Tom DeLay. Hold on to your hats, it could get bumpy from here.
Talk of retaliation is already in the air.
A DeLay ally, Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.), said Republicans "are going to have to respond in kind" by filing ethics charges against key Democrats. From now on, he said in an interview, it's a matter of "you kill my dog, I'll kill your cat." Doolittle said he plans to file ethics charges against a prominent Democrat but would not name the target.
Bell called Doolittle's comments "incredibly irresponsible."
Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., said he would urge his colleagues to avoid retaliation.
"I would hope Republicans resist the temptation to do tit-for-tat," he said.
Bell also said that he expects DeLay to retaliate.
"I expect the full wrath of Mr. DeLay's attack machine," he said. "Sadly, I've heard reports that he and his cronies are already talking of retaliation."
Obviously, it's too early to tell how this will play out. I think DeLay may finally be in some trouble, but I freely admit that I'm influenced by what I want to happen. In any event, the entertainment potential here is pretty high. DeLay has already made a major contribution:
"Evidently he is very bitter about losing his primary and is using the ethics committee to express his bitterness," DeLay said of Bell. "I have never liked the politics of personal destruction."
DeLay called for President Clinton to resign after his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.