After Newt Gingrich resigned from his post as Speaker of the House (and his seat in congress) in 1999, there has been an unspoken truce between the Republicans and Democrats in congress. Gingrich, who rose to prominence in his (ultimately successful) crusade against then-speaker Jim Wright, was the victim of a politically motivated smear campaign by David Bonior (D-MI), who filed 75 seperate ethics charges against Gingrich. 74 of them were dismissed immediately, and while he was found guilty on the last, the IRS later cleared him of the charge.
Now, soon-to-be Ex-Representative Chris Bell (D-TX), defeated in the Democratic primary, has filed a three-prong ethics charge against Tom DeLay, the Republican Majority Leader in the House, charging him with illigal fundraising, abuse of office, and quid pro quo situations. The GOP has announced that they are going to respond in kind against a Democratic leader. This may come as a shock to Democrats, who are unaccustomed to such a response. (Gingrich never filed a single counter-charge against Bonior, although he probably should have done so). I wonder if Bell's action was designed to punish the Democratic Party in response to his defeat in the primary, as it is probably not in the party's best interests to start a parade of ethics investigations right before a critical election cycle.