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Prickly issue

No need to sleep under a cactus, Mr. Nunez -- or even to deny yourself luxury goods.

May 27, 2008

Fabian Nunez, the new ex-speaker of the California Assembly, has not taken kindly to reporting on his extravagances.

Nancy Vogel, our esteemed colleague here at The Times, discovered that Nunez spent lavishly as speaker, treating himself to fancy dinners ($1,795 for one particularly lovely night out in Paris) and European vacations. He shopped at Louis Vuitton ($2,562 in "office expenses") and gorged at a French winery ($5,149 for a "meeting"). Nunez did all this on the dime of his contributors; they did not, he naturally insists, get anything in return.

Still, publication of these facts bugs Nunez, and last week he appeared to have had enough. Why did he think critics were so fascinated by these details? His reply: "Because of the fact I am Mexican, they think I have to sleep under a cactus and eat from taco stands."

It's not quite clear who "they" are, but for the sake of argument, let's assume it's white people who work at newspapers, specifically this one. Let us then make clear that we don't begrudge Nunez luxuries, and we'd hate to see him stuck under a cactus. By all means, Mr. Speaker Emeritus, eat well, see the world, bring home baubles and trinkets for yourself and your loved ones. Just do it with your own money.

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