If Tuesday's near party-line vote not to censor Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., is an example of how the Democrats plan to become the "most ethical and transparent Congress in history," they are off to a rather lackluster beginning.

Murtha, an ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is accused of threatening Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, on the floor of the House after Rogers had questioned a $23 million earmark slated for Murtha's district. Murtha is considered one of the leading proponents of pork barrel projects and was incensed his proposal was even questioned.

It's important to note two Democrats were so uncomfortable with the hypocrisy they broke ranks with their party suggesting further discussion be in order. We note this because one of them was Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.

The new Democratic majority, led by Pelosi, vowed to reform the practice of placing earmarks in spending bills. Murtha apparently didn't get the word or may have decided such rhetoric is critical as a way of changing control of Congress, if not actually changing the way business is conducted.

At this point we're not sure which is the most disturbing message - the fact ethics really aren't that important or that debate on wasteful spending is out of order.

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