For opposing democracy and oppressing its citizens' freedom, China's leaders are "foreign thugs" and "jackboots" worthy of contempt, according to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
But Russia's authoritarian practices, including a habit of using assassination to quiet government criticism, gets a weird pass in Rohrabacher's brain, which surely digested ample legitimate reports of Vladimir Putin's corruption and campaign to erode all civil liberties.
Nonetheless, over the last decade, Orange County's senior career politician repeatedly praised Putin and even wept at a conservative political forum about what he sees as callous American abuses of Russia.
Rohrabacher quadrupled down this week on his sentiment during a telephonic town hall meeting after one caller expressed dismay about Russian intelligence hacking operations and advocated for an independent prosecutor to investigate.
The congressman downplayed Putin's burglaries of computers tied to Hillary Clinton's campaign because the espionage produced "accurate information" to harm the Democrats and, besides, he claims, the Unites States secretly meddles in Russia's elections too.
"About the Russian involvement in the election . . . which actually disclosed the emails of Hillary's campaign manager and people who are higher up in the opposition there in the Democratic Party." said Rohrabacher, who unsuccessfully lobbied to become Donald Trump's secretary of state and, given his mimicking of the president's pro-Russian lines, may still want an administration job. "But, uhhh, none of the things that were made public were inaccurate. They were all accurate and I, certainly the Russians, we don't condone them hacking into our system at all."
This is where the big "but" arrived, equating the U.S. morally with Russia and creating a excuse that an independent investigation isn't necessary.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"However, just let us note that the United States hacks and wiretaps, ahhh, everybody in the world. And the Russians do too. We shouldn't, uhhh, [my emphasis] they shouldn't be doing that during our election. We do it all the time to them."
To listen to the entire town hall session, go to the website CrazyDana.com, created by Orange County resident Jeff Pearlman, one of the nation's most talented sportswriters, author of five New York Times' best sellers and, most recently, the wordsmith of Gunslinger, a biography about ex-Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre.
So far, two Democratic Party challengers have announced intentions to unseat Rohrabacher: Harley Rouda and Boyd Lachlan Roberts, both residents of Laguna Beach.
Though gerrymandering gives the congressman about a 60,000 Republican voter registration advantage, Democrats feel energized that Barack Obama won the district in 2008 followed by Clinton in 2016.