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Bad influence 

We've said before and we'll say again (editorialists don't fear repetition) that Mike Huckabee is not such a bad fellow until he gets around a bunch of Republicans. Then he commences showing out, hoping to prove that he belongs in the wrong crowd too.

This is Huckabee at a debate among Republican presidential candidates, after Rep. Ron Paul of Texas injected a rare note of sobriety by suggesting that America bring its sons and daughters home from Iraq:

“When I was a little kid, if I went into a store with my mother, she had a simple rule for me: If I picked something off the shelf at the store and I broke it, I bought it. I learned I don't pick something off the shelf I can't afford to buy. Well, what we did in Iraq, we essentially broke it. It's our responsibility to do the best we can to try to fix it before we just turn away.”

He's trying so hard to sound pro-war, like the big Republican candidates, he concocts an argument that's utterly senseless: If you break something in the store, then you have to stay in the store and break more stuff? Hard on the inventory, and not at all what that shop owner in Hope wanted. He wanted little Mikey out of there.

Apparently possessing some concern for human life and American ideals, Ron Paul sounds like he'd be a suitable companion for Huckabee, drawing out his better nature. But — isn't it always the way — Huckabee would rather hang out with the popular if mischievous set, the Giulianis, Romneys and McCains. He imitates them when he demands greater expenditures of blood and money in Iraq, and greater profits for Halliburton and other well-connected contractors.

Hard as he tries, Huckabee hasn't made much of an impression on the major candidates yet. Arkansas's former governor has been largely ignored, except that Romney and Giuliani have accused him of membership in a weird religious sect.

If Huckabee is a shade too nice to make it big in the modern Republican Party, another Arkansan, Asa Hutchinson, is not. Hutchinson is rumored to be among a small group of potential successors to Alberto Gonzales, the discredited former attorney general. When he was head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Hutchinson repeatedly showed he's free of pity, rousting cancer patients frantically seeking pain relief in their final days, and trampling on state laws that allowed the sale of marijuana. “Asa Hutchinson,” it was said, “is the only man in Washington that Dick Cheney is afraid of.”

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