Political capital


Though anecdotal evidence might suggest otherwise, Virginia’s economy is actually doing quite well—especially when compared to the nation as a whole. Our unemployment rate is currently 6 percent, compared to a dismal national average of over 9 percent, and, according to a recent study released by USA Today, Virginia’s economy is now the 10th largest in the country.

But things are still pretty tough out there. Good jobs remain scarce, and what work there is often comes with the added bonus of forced overtime and possible finger amputation. (We’re looking at you, Danville IKEA plant!)

There is, however, one occupation that never seems to suffer a recession: the dream job of smug, jet-setting elected official. Sure, you have to kiss all kinds of voter butt (along with their unhygienic babies) to get the job, but once you’re in, the sky’s the limit!

Don’t believe us? Well, just take a look at Tim Kaine. As you may know, he recently left a job with the Democratic National Committee, where he spent all of his time asking people for money, to run for the U.S. Senate, which requires him to spend all of his time doing the same thing. And guess what? It’s working! The man has raised $2.25 million bucks in the past three months alone, and he isn’t even a senator yet.

And fundraising is only part of the fun. Once you’re elected, you get all kinds of exciting vacation and travel opportunities. We previously wrote about the group of Virginia lawmakers who jetted off to Paris on a “fact-finding” mission sponsored by a uranium company. Well, guess who they ran into while they were there? Our very own Bob McDonnell, whose office made clear that the Governor wasn’t there on Virginia Uranium’s dime. No sirree—he was visiting the Paris Air Show as a guest of Rolls-Royce. See? Totally different thing.

But McDonnell couldn’t stay in Paris very long, because he had to hightail it back to Vail, Colorado, in order to attend a super-secret seminar being thrown by infamous right-wing billionaires Charles and David Koch. And once he got there, guess who he found lounging around the chalet? Why, his very own attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli. Gee, what are the odds?

Finally, if all of the fundraising and free trips aren’t enough for you, there’s always the lucrative world of ethically suspect investing. And the current king of this time-honored legislator’s pastime has to be Richmond-area Rep. Eric Cantor. As Salon.com recently pointed out, Cantor currently has up to $15,000 invested in a fund that “shorts” U.S. Treasury bonds—meaning that it only makes money if the value of the bonds declines. This would seem to represent a sizable conflict of interest for Cantor, who was a lead negotiator in ongoing talks to raise the U.S. government’s debt ceiling (which would in turn support the value of Treasury bonds). We say “was,” because Cantor petulantly walked away from the debt talks on June 23, at which point his fund’s shares jumped over 7 percent in one week.

Now that’s what we call an investing strategy! Sure, it might not be the world’s most honest living, but it certainly beats operating the FleshMangler 5000 at the IKEA factory.