Don't Blow This Chance, Washington

When the history of the 105th Congress is written, it will likely record that an ambitious onetime actor, Senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), and a small group of moderate GOP senators preserved the integrity of their party and the institution in which they serve. But just barely, and just before the public's contempt for the money-politics scandal engulfing Washington turned to complete revulsion--and perhaps a dangerous backlash. Under heavy pressure from the moderates, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), reversed position. He will now allow Thompson to conduct a broad probe of both illegal and improper campaign fund-raising practices, including "soft" money contributions. This provides a final opportunity for politicians to redeem themselves in the eyes of the people. Both Democrats and Republicans should take it.

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