Top Republicans Line Up To Support Right-Wing Sen. Ron Johnson's Leadership Bid

October 03, 2011 2:19 pm ET — Jamison Foser

Sen. Ron Johnson

Less than a year into his first term, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is running for Vice Chair of the Republican Conference, the fifth-highest leadership position among Senate Republicans. Gannett reports that Johnson doesn't yet have an opponent, and has already lined up support from senior colleagues:

So far, Johnson is the only declared candidate for the leadership post, which is opening as a result of a domino effect. [...]

Johnson has received endorsements from veterans [South Carolina's Jim] DeMint, Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, as well as fellow tea party-type freshmen Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah.

Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have also announced their support for Johnson. Graham explained: "He's a sincere, hardworking member of the Senate who represents the spirit of the 2010 elections."

It's true that Sen. Johnson represents the Republican Zeitgeist, though probably not in the way Graham meant.

Johnson spent $9 million of his own money getting elected to the Senate last year — but got his money back, and then some, when his plastics company paid him $10 million in deferred compensation shortly before he was sworn in:

Unlike most deferred package deals, however, it appears that the company had not set aside a specified amount annually that would be paid out when he left the firm. Instead, Johnson said the $10 million payment was "an agreed-upon amount" that was determined at the end of his tenure with the company.

Agreed upon with whom?

"That would be me," he said.

So, after Ron Johnson spent $9 million of his own money getting elected to the Senate, Ron Johnson and Ron Johnson worked out an agreement that Ron Johnson's plastics company would write Ron Johnson a check for $10 million. That's convenient. Asked to explain why the deferred compensation payment so closely resembled the amount he had spent on his campaign, Johnson refused, saying, "It's a private business. I've complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don't have to explain it any further to someone like you."

After running for Senate as an outsider "railing against lobbyists and the corrupting influence of Washington D.C.," Johnson chose a lobbyist to be his chief of staff because, he said, "I obviously need to hire people that understand this town."

Washington isn't the only thing Johnson needs help understanding. During his Senate campaign, he tried to explain away global warming by saying, "There's a reason Greenland was called Greenland. ... It was actually green at one point in time." That's a nice story except for the fact that Greenland's ice cap is hundreds of thousands of years old.

Last summer, Johnson accused Democrats of "trying to blackmail" Republicans into raising the debt ceiling and insisted that default "doesn't have to be a crisis." Then, when Standard & Poor's downgraded America's credit rating following the near-default and explained that the GOP's unwillingness to compromise was a key part of their decision, Johnson blamed Democrats for the downgrade.

He votes to give huge oil companies billions of dollars in tax breaks each year — and tells poor kids to tighten their belts. And when Johnson reads clear statements from "job creators" that they aren't hiring because of insufficient demand for their goods and services, he nonsensically concludes that what's needed is a regulatory moratorium rather than demand-increasing economic stimulus.

No wonder Republicans are lining up to support Johnson's leadership bid.