Village Voice vet Wayne Barrett finally lets loose on the lame “Troopergate” scandal with a withering cover feature that, frankly, made us a bit nostalgic for the alterna-weekly’s better days. Joe Bruno, of course, is overzealously pursuing Eliot Spitzer for overzealously pursuing Joe Bruno, and, legislatively speaking, zilch is getting done as a result. To Barrett, it’s a GOP smear campaign pure and simple, with the bonus effect of keeping the spotlight off Bruno (who probably did abuse his airplane privileges). “The Republicans are trying to depict Spitzer as a tyrant who will use police powers to silence or defeat them,” he writes, “and they couldn’t be happier to have [Andrew] Cuomo as their witness and cheerleader.”
Cuomo’s grandstanding is the focus of the piece and the main target of Barrett’s anger; almost a third of the story is devoted to a useful refresher course on Cuomo’s family, which has its own history of sneaking free rides on state aircraft. The piece is compelling and definitive — if guilty of a crush on Spitzer, “who starts his day with a 5 a.m. run and who knows what it takes to push his taut frame through a stiff Albany wind.” Oh, yeah, baby! Too bad the momentum in the windy Albany has already, to an extent, shifted away from the Troopergate: This week, Spitzer’s getting raked over the coals for his plan to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Here’s how terrifyingly nuts the upstate discourse has gotten, by the way: “Osama bin Laden is somewhere in a cave with his den of thieves and terrorists,” Assembly minority leader James Tedisco actually said, “and he’s probably sabering the cork on some Champagne right now, saying ‘Hey, that governor’s really assisting us.’” Yes, sabering the cork. Tedisco might want to lay off the Ali Baba stories, but at least it’s a policy dispute.