HEATH SHULER: ACTUALLY A DEMOCRAT. As the invocations keep coming, I rise to defend Congressman-elect Heath Shuler, who must be getting damned sick and tired of having his marvelous underdog win characterized by the side that got skunked last week as a de facto win for its principles, and even by his own, winning side as a shrewd tactical abandonment of its own. Here's a very good local account of Shuler's win. Shuler didn't win because he was slightly less conservative than Charles Taylor, the Republican he whacked. He won because the party Mr. Taylor represented has so revolted the American public that the "R" next to someone's name was enough. (And God help anyone if the actual Republican president brought his leprous public image by to call.) This was how Taylor lost in Asheville and Lincoln Chaffee lost in Providence, and it's the only thing that those two have in common. Democrats won last week because they were Democrats and also because they were reckoned by most of the country to be Not Insane. Shuler's got enough problems as a rookie legislator without being the Poster Child for everyone's personal political trips.

--Charles P. Pierce