Hey, remember when Tom Daschle’s little tax problem forced him to withdraw his nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services, and I said good riddance to spineless corrupt rubbish? Looks like I had something there:

While I feel very strongly that consumers should have the choice of a national, Medicare-like plan, my colleagues do not. . . But we were concerned that the ongoing health reform debate is beginning to show signs of fracture on the public plan issue, so in order to advance the process of developing bipartisan legislation and to move it forward, it’s time to find consensus here.

A Daschle spokeswoman later explained that Daschle is totally for the public option. . . as long as it doesn’t "derail" healthcare reform. Which he must think it does, since he just floated a plan (PDF) that replaces it with optional state-level "insurance exchanges."

Back in February, I pointed out that Daschle received close to $2.5 million from the healthcare industry and its lobbyists over two years, and he’s still on Alston & Bird’s payroll. But despite that glaringly obvious fact, Daschle is treated as a Serious Statesman with A Serious Plan instead of just the latest healthcare industry shill trying to kill off the public option with a half-assed substitute. Even the White House made appreciative and respectful noises about the dream team of Daschle, Bob Dole, and Howard Baker:

"With this report, they have demonstrated what can be achieved with bipartisan effort. The Bipartisan Policy Center has produced a significant report, and the White House applauds their efforts," added [White House Press Secretary Robert] Gibbs.

"Bipartisan" apparently now means Democrats and Republicans working together to do the bidding of the healthcare industry, and the Obama Administration views it as worthy of applause.