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Published: Tuesday, 5/9/2006

McCloskey just couldn't learn from his mistakes

Well, this is just downright embarrassing.

Portions of former city councilman's Bob McCloskey's plea agreement on federal bribery charges are absolutely cringe-inducing.

C'mon, the document practically reads like a parody.

McCloskey stuffs a wad of cash amounting to thousands of dollars into his pants pocket - and then cracks a joke about having to dash so he can be punctual for a session at Government Center on ethics?

Outside of The Daily Show,

or maybe Saturday Night Live on one of its rare good nights, you just cannot make this stuff up.

And that, in turn, makes the whole mess beyond pathetic.

For once and for all, we have laid to rest that nagging Toledo trivia question: Just how dumb IS Bob McCloskey, anyway?

Answer: Uh, pretty darn, actually.

Already under indictment in Lucas County for felony bribery, McCloskey asked an unidentified business owner to chip in to his legal defense fund.

As the plea agreement outlined, McCloskey acknowledged that he shouldn't take money from the business owner, "but he was willing to take it anyway."

Bob McCloskey: Not just a politician, but a politician with attitude.

Back in 2000, District Councilman Mike Ashford had just taken office when McCloskey offered to host a fund-raiser for him.

Not long afterward, Mr. Ashford objected to the liquor-license renewal of one of the business owners who'd attended his fund-raiser.

"Bob didn't talk directly to me, [but] I knew Bob was upset," Mr. Ashford recounted. "I guess later on we had a conversation, and I told Bob that just because they contribute does not mean that you automatically vote for one of their issues."

Another city hall regular remembers that he once tried to impart that same lesson to McCloskey.

"I wanted him to understand that a campaign contribution was not a binding contract," said this politico, who would only be identified as a "faceless bureaucrat."

Looking for "a story earthy enough to appeal to Bob," Faceless Bureaucrat looked westward, back in time to the 1960s, when a powerful California politician named Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruhbecame famous for this quote about special interests and state government:

If you can't drink their booze, take their money, [have sex with] their women, and vote against them in the morning, then you don't belong in this place.

"So I tell this story to Bob," said Faceless Bureacrat, "and Bob says, 'Oh, I could never do that!'‚óŹ"

You know, in a way, McCloskey might merit some respect.

I mean, a guy who gets bought and stays bought - isn't that its own special kind of honor?

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