For readers who live outside the US, Pat Robertson is a TV preacher who ran for president in 1988 and got 6 or 7 votes from the soft-headed.
Although his run for public office was a flop, his Christian network continues to bilk little old ladies out their Social Security checks and if you want to run for president as a Republican, you make the trek down to Virginia Beach, pucker up and plant one on Pat's saggy white butt cheek.
Back in 1984, the night Ronald Reagan was re-elected, I resigned myself to another four years of troglodyte rule the way I usually do on election nights - with a lot of scotch and repeated playing of the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want."
Feeling masochistic, I turned to Robertson's 700 Club, a sort of Christian Tonight Show for what Lee Atwater, famed GOP trickster, affectionately called "the extra-chromosome Republicans." Pat and his Stepin Fetchit sidekick, Ben Kinchlow, were opining about the election results.
Pat reported that "another Christian," Jesse Helms, had been re-elected in North Carolina and with Percy's defeat in Illinois, that put Jesse next in line for the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a job that Jesse had publicly salivated over for years.
Ben reminded Pat of Helms' promise to the people of North Carolina that if re-elected, he would remain head of the Agriculture Committee which was important to the state. "And Senator Helms is a man of his word," Ben said.
Pat agreed. Senator Helms is a man of his word and would keep his word "unless he can find some way out of it."
And there it was. The Christian right's sense of ethics. You should always keep your word unless you can "find some way out of it."
Oh, and what did Helms do? Did this man of integrity keep his promise to the people of North Carolina and stay at Agriculture? Well, it took him a few years but he did indeed find some way out of it. He took over Foreign Relations where he wrought a particularly ugly brand of reactionary mischief, so far to the right that even some Republicans blanched.
So, as our state flags fly at half-staff today in honor of our departed Senator, I would like readers to remember Jesse the way he really was. A man with the reputation for always keeping his word.
Unless he could find some way out of it.