Bettencourt's Worst Argument Ever: Voters Were Misled on Drainage-Fee Vote (UPDATED With Judge's Decision)

Paul Bettencourt, the Republican who never met a government that couldn't be smaller, is in court this week leading the charge against the new drainage fees in Houston.

Voters approved the fees in a referendum, but Bettencourt, according to the Houston Chronicle, is arguing that those darn voters just didn't know what they were approving.

"If the public had known any word about a dollar sign in the referendum, it wouldn't have passed," he argued.

Beyond the matter of whether the use of the word "fee" was an extremely clever ruse to hide the fact that, well, it was a fee to be paid, Bettencourt seems to be arguing that George W. Bush should have been kicked out of office.

Voters were told he was a bipartisan "compassionate conservative" who treasured peace and abhorred "nation-building" and had a stellar career in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam (because through some stroke of absolute random luck, he got a highly coveted slot in that unit, preventing him from actually fighting.)

Maybe if voters were more well-informed on the matter, they might have voted differently.

Just as hilariously, Bettencourt is touting to the court a poll -- paid for by drainage-fee opponents -- that shows 65 percent of voters would not have supported the measure "had they known the City Council would grant exemptions to certain institutions, leaving others to pay the entire assessment."

Not much of a leading question at all. We're pretty sure you could finance a poll showing 65 percent of Houstonians would have opposed the fee "had they known that Christian churches and other places of worship, places which need every spare dollar to help the poor, would be charged the full fee instead of getting exemptions."

Update: And the court agrees, apparently. The judge grants the city's motion for a summary judgment.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly