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Lobbyists do cosmetic cleanup 

Lowdown

Even a hog must sometimes gag at the stench of its own sty. So maybe that's why some corporate lobbyists have launched a campaign to spiff up K Street, Washington's corridor of shameless, high-dollar influence-peddlers.

The pay-to-play profession is so soiled and stinky that even the odious Newt Gingrich couldn't stand it, claiming in his hapless presidential run earlier this year that he's a corporate "consultant" — NOT a lobbyist.

Adding to the industry's reputation for ick is the sight of Jack Abramoff, the convicted sleazeball lobbying hustler who has now embarked on a "remorse tour," charging groups across the country $10,000 a pop to hear him talk about — get this — ethics reform!

Sad to say, but lobbying is a huge, and hugely profitable industry.

There are 535 members of Congress, one president, and 23 cabinet officers in charge of overseeing our national government, but they are constantly swarmed by 12,000 registered Washington lobbyists!

These hired guns hauled in a whopping $3.3 billion last year for helping Big Oil, Big Banks and other Biggies gouge us.

Unsurprisingly, the American people are disgusted by them.

So, the head of the American League of Lobbyists (yes, lobbyists have their own lobbying group) now says that a spritz of magnolia-scented Glade or maybe one of those pine-tree-shaped air fresheners is needed to improve K Street's smell.

Would he include actually stanching the stench by banning lobbyists from doling out campaign cash to lawmakers they're hustling?

Oh, gosh, no — that might actually work! Instead, the lobbyists' lobbyist is proposing less pungent reforms, such as giving "ethics training" to those in the trade.

Wow — imagine how that would've changed Jack Abramoff!

To make real change in this corrupt system, check with the people's watchdog group, Public Citizen.

Go to citizen.org.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

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