USC president would welcome Texas A&M

Harris Pastides

Last week, Joe Wilson's office assured The Post and Courier that the investigation of his taxpayer-funded travel expenses was limited to $12 worth of souvenir goblets.

Turns out, the South Carolina congressman has made at least 30 international trips in the last eight years, costing us about $100,000.

The temptation here is too great to resist, so here goes: Joe Wilson, you lie!

The Office of Congressional Ethics (now there's an oxymoron) is after Wilson for traveling excessively on the government's dime. He is listed as No. 29 out of 435 House members in terms of travel spending.

Now Wilson says those trips were necessary because he's on the House Armed Services Committee and needs to visit the troops. Which makes sense. Who would want to see USO entertainers such as Trace Adkins and Toby Keith when they could get a visit from a congressman?

Where are those facts?

Now, Wilson's opponent in the upcoming election -- Marine Corps combat veteran Rob Miller -- is making great hay out of this, which is his right.

But the Democratic Party should stay out of it, because fleecing the taxpayers is a bipartisan sport in Washington.

Of the six members of Congress currently under investigation for frequent flying, three are Democrats and three are Republicans. It's always that way, no matter who's in charge at the moment.

In fairness, the sum total of all this spending wouldn't solve the Social Security problem, but it might pay for unemployment benefits in a certain Southern state.

The thing is, these guys are traveling much more than those records even suggest. Check out and you will find the privately funded trips taken by members of Congress. According to that site, Wilson has taken nine other trips funded by special-interest groups to the tune of $37,000. Most everyone else in the delegation spent less than that, save for one.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, has taken 90 trips on someone else's dime, at a cost of $194,000. Many of those trips were to give speeches or for "fact-finding" missions.

When is someone going to pay for an S.C. State missing-money-finding trip?

Weekend in Havana

When confronted last week, Wilson told McClatchy newspapers that he had been asked about expenses other than the goblets, but "I don't remember specifically."

You can bet that when a politician can't recall something, it's either really embarrassing or indictable.

But Wilson shouldn't worry too much about this little probe messing up his re-election chances. Some voters apparently don't care about the details. Why else would they make sure the state's two most frugal travelers -- Bob Inglis and Henry Brown -- won't be returning to Congress next year?

Brown took five trips that cost about $4,000 funded by private sources, and Inglis took two that cost a grand total of $770. Meanwhile, everyone else was whooping it up in Kabul, Tel Aviv and Havana.

These Congress guys are abroad so often, you wonder how they have time to do such a good job screwing up this country.