If listeners' jaws did not drop, they weren't paying attention.
In an interview on WKOW-Channel 27 last week Wednesday, state Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) was inveighing against efforts by state Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) to expel state Rep. Jeff Wood (Independent-Chippewa Falls) from the Legislature for repeated driving-while-intoxicated arrests. He pegged such exercises as something of a slippery slope.
"Can you cheat on your spouse?" he asked, adding that "a lot of people in this building" might fail this standard. "Do you have a child out of wedlock? I think that's a good question to ask Rep. Nass."
Asked to explain his remark, Pocan reflects that "those who are first in line to be the morality police" often have their own issues in this regard. And in fact, newspaper accounts have said the unmarried Nass was ruled in 1991 to be the father of a New Berlin woman's child and later ordered to pay additional child support.
But Pocan says he didn't mean to accuse Nass of any particular indiscretion: "I was just going down a broad list of things that I know in the past have been true of various legislators."
Pocan then alleges a particular indiscretion, the subject of recent attention by One Wisconsin Now: years-old charges that Nass elongated his commute to Madison to snare a federal tax break. "Some people," clucks Pocan, "might consider that tax evasion."
Wood, he notes, has not yet been charged or convicted in his most recent alleged DWI. Pocan thinks he's entitled to a break in any case: "This is a guy who's publicly admitted he has a problem. We could be a bit more sensitive."
That's Pocan, all right. Mr. Sensitive.