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On Wednesday, one day after US Attorney General John Ashcroft announced his resignation, President Bush nominated Chief White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to assume the top job at the Justice Department.

Gonzales, a longtime Bush crony from Texas and former Enron defender, can be expected to tread the legal paths pioneered by his predecessor, though without the fundamentalist overlay. While fairly mainstream in some areas of human behavior, Gonzales has been a big fan of monarchial (i.e., unconstitutional) powers for the White House, and has eagerly supported military torture, commenting once in a memo to the President that the Geneva Conventions are "quaint."

It's reasonable to expect him to try to keep Guantanamo detainees in Limbo, to deny due process to "enemy combatants," to press for expanded wiretap and Internet monitoring, and to lobby for permanent adoption of the legal shortcuts encoded into the "Patriot" Act. He might be somewhat less terrified by pornography, and a bit more sensitive to the legal needs of ethnic minorities, than Ashcroft, but he is likely to side eagerly with industry in IP enforcement. And Ken Lay will, no doubt, be sleeping easier for the next four years.

There is some hope that he might have achieved the degree of sexual maturity needed to unveil the bronze tits on Lady Justice that the twitchy Ashcroft could not endure. ®

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