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Boss Jim, the most powerful man in Georgia

As long as I have covered politics, I never realized until now that one of the most powerful people working the government scam right under my nose was a seemingly meek, bleeding-heart Democrat named Jim Martin.

Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and his sidekick consultant Tom Perdue (no kin to Gov. Sonny) have set me straight. Their TV ads tell me Martin is responsible for the state's highest tax increase. As a state legislator, Martin raised his own expense account by 27 percent, they inform me. He has been the villainous manipulator of so many irresponsible and greedy power grabs that I cannot possibly list them here, Saxby's folks say.

Wow! How could I have missed Martin? There I was wasting my time trying to fathom what Zell Miller or Tom Murphy might do next. I worried over Sen. Paul Coverdell and Gov. Jimmy Carter. In my rush to splash ink on these notables, I barely noticed Martin. I never thought of him as a behind-the-scenes power. I thought he was just another back-bench lawmaker and later a bureaucrat whose moderate politics were much too soft to compete with Georgia's killer Republicans. Now, I know differently. Martin misled me. He apparently was, in reality, the ever-devious Boss Jim, wearing a disguise worthy of Lon Chaney.

When he finally decided to reveal his true identity and run for the U.S. Senate, Saxby and his corporate buds wasted no time in exposing Martin for who he is - a ruthless, care-not Democrat with untold powers over taxes and expense vouchers. They also tell us Martin is a big buddy of Barack Hussein Obama, just elected president of most of the United States.

I should have known that Sax would let the cat out of the bag. Remember the first time Chambliss ran for the Senate and ordered up a series of informational ads?

In those remarkable spots, Chambliss ran photos of incumbent Sen. Max Cleland with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. He let Georgians know that Max sort of hung out with those bad guys. Never mind that Cleland left three limbs on the battlefield of Vietnam when he was an American infantry captain. Sax, of course, whipped Max good at the polls.

Now Chambliss makes campaign appearances with a triple-amputee (not Max) seated on the platform just to show he has no hard feelings. Of course, Sen. Chambliss somehow missed the Vietnam mess. He said he couldn't go because he had a hurt knee. I certainly understand how he felt. I have bad knees, and nothing hurts worse. I think I injured them while I was guarding the Rhine River against Chinese Communists during the Korean War.

Sorry, folks. An old man's mind wanders. Back to Sax and Boss Jim. Since (as some of you know) I am a betting man, I have just wagered $50 on Chambliss to win the Dec. 2 runoff election. I had to give to the bookie 1,000 votes and Martin. I feel pretty good about my wager. Saxby has outspent Martin on TV commercials by a wide margin. Georgia is still a deep-red state. Despite all, Saxby is a decent-looking candidate with just enough gravitas to be a senator but not a windbag.

Still, I worry about Sax when he gets back to D.C. for his next term. He may get a bit lonesome on the Hill. W. won't be there to cheer him up and advise him on how to vote. His little buddy, Johnny Isakson, the other Cracker senator, is in the same boat. He has an R by his name, too. Lucky for Johnny, however, he has not quite earned the kind of reputation Saxby has. The ruling Democrats will be on the lookout for Saxby just so they can slam the door in his face when he approaches or hang up on him when he calls. Johnny hasn't made enough of a mark for the Obama organization to be laying for him.

When you look at Saxby and Johnny, you have to wonder how Georgia could have ended up with these two guys in Washington to represent them in these dire times. They'll be lucky to get appointments to the window-washing and elevator-maintenance committees.

You also ought to keep in mind that what Saxby does in Washington in his second term will stay in Washington. It sure as heck won't make it back home to help Georgians - not after he beats Boss Jim, who is indeed a pal of the Barack bunch.

Syndicated columnist Bill Shipp writes on Georgia politics. E-mail him at shipp1@bellsouth.net.