Lobbyist Picks Convenient Time to Quit Ivory Coast Gig

Famed Democratic lawyer Lanny Davis, who was paid $100,000 a month to represent President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast, quit yesterday, probably because it's hard to defend a murderer like Gbagbo, who lost his reelection bid last month.

According to the New York Times, Davis recently stated in a Justice Department filing that he was representing Gbagbo in an effort to "present the facts and the law as to why there is substantial documentary evidence that President Laurent Gbagbo is the duly elected president as a result of the Nov. 28 elections." The only problem here is that African leaders and the entire international community disagree. Gbagbo lost the election to former rebel Alassane Ouattara, and he now refuses to relinquish power.

But this is nothing new for Davis, who has a history of representing dictators and various other assholes for lots and lots of money. As Salon's Justin Elliot put it last week:

You're the leader of a small African country facing an international outcry after reversing the results of a presidential election and dispatching your forces to suppress and kill opposition protesters. What do you do to turn the tide and keep your grip on power?

Call Lanny Davis.

Ben Smith at Politico has Davis' full resignation letter here. In it, Davis rightly says there is "no excuse for a return to violence or civil war." But the thing that really sealed the deal for him was Gbagbo's refusal to take a call from Barack Obama. Never mind the fact that Davis was being paid to defend a strongman's violent tactics... Gbagbo dissed Barack Obama and that is unforgivable.

But perhaps the best thing about Davis is that he was hazed by George W. Bush at Yale, as he was joining the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. From US News & World Report:

[Davis] tells us that he faced the normal five-hour hazing, ending with him standing beside a DKE brand shoved in a vat of hot coals. At this point, Bush and the others blindfolded Davis and asked him to lift his shirt. He did. Then Davis felt it: the hot sizzle of skin. But it was only a cigarette. "They really psyched me out," he says.

That's a nice little anecdote to add to a storied career. Davis can forever say he was literally burned by George W. Bush. So say what you will about Lanny Davis, but don't accuse him of "shilling" for dictators, okay? He doesn't like that word when it's attached to his good name. Lanny Davis wants to be known as a peacemaker.

[Image via AP]