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Originally published June 6, 2010 at 4:00 PM | Page modified June 7, 2010 at 10:25 AM

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Rep. Reichert's cynicism is showing

Congressman Dave Reichert has to rebuild his credibility with environmentally oriented voters in the 8th District. His remarks to Republican precinct committee officers make him look like a cynical politician — especially in regard to his concern for the environment.

WHAT was 8th District Congressman Dave Reichert thinking?

Reichert, three-term congressman from Auburn, told a recent gathering of Republican precinct committee officers that to remain in office there are "certain moves, chess pieces, strategies I have to employ."

He said he toes the party line most of the time but suggested a few select environmental votes keep environmental groups from spending millions of dollars to defeat him. How cynical.

Reichert should never have shared such feelings with a group of people, even if his enthusiasm for the environment wavers at times.

Reichert has several months to burnish his reputation and redeem himself, but how naive to ask a group of Republicans if there are any strangers or reporters in the room?

Someone taped the remarks and leaked them to a liberal blogger. Such is the nature of media and technology in the modern age.

Reichert now says he was only joking when he asked if reporters were in the room and always assumes he is being recorded.

Treacherous gobs of oil threatening beaches and wildlife along the Gulf Coast put in stark relief the need for every politician running this fall to state a clear position on pollution, drilling and broader environmental sentiments. In our state, no politician has more explaining to do than Reichert.

He supported the Wild Sky Wilderness, which, he explained, was all but a done deal when he arrived in Congress.

No politician has to vote 100 percent with any constituency. We elect these folks to pick and choose which bill they will support or turn down.

But to tell a group of sympathizers he votes for environmental issues to stay in office harms his green credentials.

The congressman said he could have chosen his words differently, but insisted, adamantly: "I am an environmentalist at heart. My record on the environment speaks for itself."

Politicians in this predicament have a range of tools, from a direct apology to the obligatory "What I meant to say."

Reichert should do a better job of explaining himself. Certain damage has been done.

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