Down the Tubes


Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R), builder of the Bridge to Nowhere, owner of at least one Incredible Hulk tie, has become the fifth sitting senator convicted of a crime. The first to be convicted of seven.

It is the highest-profile felony conviction in a sweeping four-year federal investigation into corruption in Alaska politics, and a rare conviction by a jury of a sitting U.S. senator.

As the verdict on the first count was read, Stevens slumped slightly. When the second count was read, his lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, reached over and put his arm around Stevens' shoulders.

As Stevens exited the courtroom, his wife, Catherine, kissed him on the cheek.

Moments earlier, he told her, "It's not over yet." She responded, "You got that right."

And then he added, "Not over yet."

No, it's over.

If Ted Stevens refuses to resign upon his conviction, he faces expulsion, which has been extremely rare in the history of the U.S. Senate.

It might be a moot point. In eight days Democrat Mark Begich, the mayor of Anchorage, will almost certainly defeat Stevens. There's the minor question of whether Stevens quits and Gov. Sarah Palin appoints a placeholder, but the writing's on the wall.