By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Bad timing? Political Action Committee ad thanks Valadao, and other Reps for voting against Obamacare

As I sat lazily in my comfortable easy chair Sunday morning, gingerly sipping coffee and clinging to my beloved Marilyn Monroe mug, I held my television’s remote control close, and while patiently thumbing through my Sunday copy of The Fresno Bee, I watched the morning talk shows, while reviewing my favorite online newspapers via my IPad: The Washington Post, New York Times, Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and of course The Leader.

A typical Sunday morning is dominated by The Bee, Chris Wallace (I admit it, I watch Fox News) Chuck Todd (Meet the Press), and George Stephanopoulos (This Week). This is my Sunday morning routine, my retreat from the weekend blues.

I need my Sunday morning news talk show fix – like Trump needs his Twitter. I’ll admit it, I’m a junkie and I’m addicted to news. I devour the news channels – and newspapers – as quickly as Trump can consume a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I more than make up with my news fixation with another. On Sunday night, I faithfully tune in to “The Walking Dead,” the zombie apocalypse show dedicated to the House of Representatives and White House.

Congressman Valadao's Health Care Ad

Meanwhile, as my IPad rests forlornly on my lap, I review my retinue of online newspapers while watching Chris Wallace beat up on Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Preibus – something about the president’s inability to repeal his campaign’s No. 1 promise, to repeal Obamacare – and make MSNBC pay for it.

Bad timing? Political Action Committee ad thanks Valadao, and other Reps for voting against Obamacare

As I’m watching Wallace needle Preibus, a political ad suddenly appears on my 60-inch television screen, and it’s extolling the virtues of our local Congressman, David Valadao. The 15-second ad, paid for by a right-center Political Action Committee calling itself the American Action Network, thanked the Hanford Congressman for his vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Valadao was not Trump’s biggest fan, particularly when it came to immigration. He knows there’s a problem, but says there’s a better way. He favors reasonable paths to citizenship for those undocumented persons who contribute to this country, not the wholesale “rounding up” favored by Trump. And on health care, he apparently was a “yes” vote to repeal Obamacare – as were most of his fellow Republicans.

The problem is, our nice-guy Congressman didn’t get to vote for repeal. Turns out no one voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act because Trump, after talking with Speaker Paul Ryan, cancelled the vote. It just wasn’t going to pass, thanks to several factors.

Valadao and the Republican House of Representatives, didn’t get to cast any votes, and after passing nearly 60 wasteful votes over the past six years to repeal Obamacare – knowing full well it wasn’t going to happen – things looked different in 2017. The Congress had a friend now in the White House, or so they thought.  

Instead of repeal and replace, Obamacare was saved by – of all things – a combination of factors, including rising poll numbers for Obamacare and the intransigence of a group of far-right Republicans known as the Freedom Caucus. Throw a few moderate Republicans into the mix and Obamacare remains the law of the land – as the Speaker of the House sadly conceded Saturday afternoon.

Back to American Action Network’s untimely ad. On Sunday, just a day after the Obamacare repeal died on the vine, it appeared on Fox News Sunday. Television ads don’t come cheap, particularly on network and cable television. Seems like a waste of hard-earned political capital, and it certainly didn’t do any favors for Valadao, or any of the other dozens of Congresspersons, highlighted in various parts of the county.

In other news.

Our neighboring representative, Tulare’s Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is making a name for himself – and some say – both Democrats and Republicans – not in a good way.

Some in Congress and the press say Nunes may be in over his head on the Intelligence Committee.

Having met Nunes on a couple of occasions, it’s fascinating to watch his climb to power. While his political resume mentions his college (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), which I refer to as the Harvard of the West (I earned a degree from Cal Poly) and his election, at 22, to the College of the Sequoias Board of Trustees, it forgets that Nunes lost his first attempt to win a seat in Congress.

Not mentioned in any of his official biographies was that in 1998, Nunes ran for Congress in the 20th Congressional District, against Democratic Incumbent Calvin Dooley.

However, the would-be congressman never faced off against Dooley. Nunes failed to make it out of the primary, losing instead to businessman Cliff Unruh. Dooley went on to crush Unruh in the November election to win yet another term.

Nunes wasn’t finished. Thanks to redistricting, he took advantage of his new district and ran again in 2002 – in what turned out to be a much friendlier district. This time around, facing a familiar electorate, he convinced voters that he was their man.

I remember seeing him on the campaign trail, at a crab feed in Riverdale, where he worked a friendly crowd like a pro. He was working hard, shaking hands, and kissing babies while travelling the District in a Winnebago, his name emblazoned proudly on the its side.

Unfortunately, many, on both sides of the aisle, say Nunes has not distinguished himself well as the Intelligence Committee Chairman, and lately he’s getting criticism for his handling of the investigation into the Trump-Russian connections, and while there’s no clear evidence yet that there was collusion between members of Trump’s campaign and those unscrupulous Russians, he has done little to investigate any ties, and instead has been concentrating on the numerous leaks emerging from government sources.

Democrats, and a few Republicans, are howling to get Nunes kicked off the Intelligence Committee. They contend that Nunes, rather than conducting an honest investigation, is kissing up to Trump (Nunes was a member of Trump’s transition team) insisting that he’s nothing more than the president’s loyal surrogate who happily responds to the president’s bidding, like a lap dog.

At the center of all this, Nunes, last week, briefed the president about intelligence reports he said picked up incidental conversations Trump had with others. No crime there and the conversations apparently had nothing to do with the Russians, but rather than report such findings to his committee, he went directly to the president.

Turns out someone in the White House provided these reports to the congressman, but Nunes isn’t telling.

The problem is that while he’s supposed to be investigating Russian ties to Trump’s campaign, he’s providing mysterious documents to the person under investigation, and leaving his fellow committee members out in the cold.

On Monday, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer called on Speaker Ryan to remove Nunes from the Intelligence Committee, unlikely since the Republicans hold both houses of Congress.

Obviously, he’s getting a lot of flak from both sides of the political aisle. Sen. Lindsey Graham, according to Washington Post Columnist Jennifer Rubins, said the following about Nunes: “The problem that he’s created is he’s gone off on a lark by himself, sort of an inspector Clouseau investigation here,” said the folksy senator from South Carolina.