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Across party lines 

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As governor, Mike Huckabee was generally responsible regarding public finance. It’s jarring to find presidential candidate Huckabee proposing to replace the federal income tax with a 23 percent national sales tax. Unrealistic and unfair, the proposal would soak the poor and still leave government underfunded.

But we’ve often said of Huckabee that he’s at his worst when he’s hanging out with Republicans. (The Republican governor who had to deal with a Democratic legislature was a more serious and capable fellow.) Now he’s hanging with Republican undesirables 24-7. And this sales-tax thing is certainly in line with the tax policy of the national Republican administration, which wants to exempt all income from taxation. President Bush is doing a pretty good job of that too, with his tax cuts for the upper classes.

The 23 percent tax plan has knocked around Washington for a while. Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel is also for it. Gravel is a Democratic presidential candidate, but Huckabee could have heard that Gravel has a bunch of good bipartisan ideas, which is true. The national sales tax is not one of them, however. Huckabee should copy the others instead. Gravel wants Congress to pass a law declaring the Iraq War over. He wants President Bush criminally indicted because “He lied to the American people and it has cost us more than 3,000 people.” He supports gay marriage and the legalization of drugs. He’s ridiculed by David Broder, and only the best candidates get that treatment. Tax plan aside, Gravel is the sort of person that Huckabee should buddy up to, if he aspires to real public service. A fusion ticket could be just the ticket for this election.

 Some say there are no good lawyers. We say, what about Atticus Finch? Perry Mason? The barrister played by Charles Laughton in “Witness for the Prosecution”? Good people, and smart too.

It’s only the other kind of lawyer that brings the profession into disrepute. Learned counsel such as the Georgia personal-injury lawyer who jetted back and forth across the Atlantic even though he’d been told by health authorities that such behavior would expose others to the highly dangerous form of tuberculosis he was carrying. “Others, schmothers,” we can hear him saying. “I get to do anything I want to! I’m a lawyer!” Public-health officials on both sides of the ocean are now searching desperately for 80 people who sat near him on the flights, while TB Tom himself receives first-rate medical care back here in the States. He’s probably planning a lawsuit against the other passengers for depriving him of his property, the TB germs. But, as we said, not all lawyers are alike. On the one hand, there’s this tubercular savage. On the other, there’s James Stewart in “Anatomy of a Murder.”

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