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OUR VIEW: Don’t applaud misbehaving political leaders

In recent months, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was asked by the media if he smokes crack cocaine. And for at least five months, Ford fed the media denials.

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Now, the political head of Canada’s largest city has been reduced to nothing more than a figurehead after that town’s council stripped him of just about all governing power in the wake of this soap-opera scandal north of the border.

Had Ford’s escapades been acted out in a television drama, they would serve as great entertainment. Since they’re real, however, Ford’s antics are nothing short of disturbing.

Court documents outline allegations of drug use, drunkenness and verbal and physical abuse of city employees. Although he denied it for months, he now has admitted to smoking crack cocaine — but only after video showed him in the act.

He also has been accused of sexual impropriety.

During a Toronto city council meeting earlier this week, he used animated gestures to mock a member of the council. He then knocked over a woman councilor during a strange dust-up that occurred at the meeting.

And, of course, he blames it all on the media. He said the Toronto newspaper has mounted a vendetta against him on behalf of “rich and elitist” political opponents.

Ford isn’t the only disgraced politician featured in the news this week. Here in the United States, U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., has been caught purchasing cocaine. Radel was busted in a federal sting and was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Radel and Ford really deserve no mercy. Both have been elected to high office and both have allegedly and wantonly broken the law. Unfortunately, some people still view them as renegades, to be revered and respected, something like Jesse James in the Old West.

To those misguided souls who react this way, we have one request: We ask that you thoroughly examine what, exactly, you are applauding.