Bribery is bribery, and there’s no excusing it in our public officials. But in the "punishment fits the crime" department, there’s something wrong with the proposed sentence of Dollar Bill Jefferson when you compare it that handed down to Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

From Duke’s wiki:

Cunningham resigned from the House on November 28, 2005, after pleading guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes and underreporting his income for 2004. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion. On March 3, 2006, he received a sentence of eight years and four months in prison and an order to pay $1.8 million in restitution.

That’s 100 months of prison time for $2,400,000 in bribes (and $1.8m to be restituted, but let’s set that aside for a moment) or one month for every $24,000 in bribes.

Now get a load of how long federal prosecutors want to put away Dollar Bill Jefferson:

Federal prosecutors are seeking the harshest prison sentence ever handed out to a member of Congress for former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), arguing that his “stunning betrayal of public trust” warrants what could be a life sentence for the long-time lawmaker.

The Justice Department is asking a federal judge in Alexandria, Va, to lock up Jefferson, 62, for up to 33 years, according to documents filed by prosecutors on Friday.

Surely Dollar Bill’s bribes must be in the tens of millions of dollars, too, right? Wrong:

According to DOJ estimate, these bribery schemes – which involved companies in west Africa – could have netted Jefferson and his family “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Jefferson got $478,000 in bribe money, including $367,500 from Kentucky businessman Vernon Jackson. Jackson himself received a 87-month sentence, or more than seven years.

So Dollar Bill will get 396 months, if his prosecutors get their way, for $478,000 in bribes — oh, sure there’s lots more he "could have netted" but I bet there was lots more Duke "could have netted" as well.

That’s one month for every $1,207 in bribes.

(Not to mention the $90,000 recovered directly from Dollar Bill’s freezer that hardly needs restituting: it’s in the feds’ hands and has been since seizure.)

Of course, Duke’s a Republican, and Dollar Bill is a Democrat. Everyone knows that Democrats should be punished more severely than Republicans, especially when they are getting bribes from companies wanting to do business with African countries instead of defense contractors protecting American troops. IOKIYAR isn’t just for the law-abiding.

There’s another difference, too, of course. Why does a twenty-fold discrepency seem so familiar? Is bribe-taking by African-American Congressmen the new crack cocaine? Have sentencing disparities by race reached this far into our federal prosecutorial workforce?

Will no one call out this obvious racism?