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This year, Thanksgiving spills into an extra week now that the corps of stooped, elderly baggage screeners at Kansas City’s airport has seen all of the metro’s air travelers through the holiday safe and sound.

We also give thanks for the flip-flopping of Missouri Republicans Sam Graves, Kenny Hulshof, Todd Akin and Roy Blunt, and Kansans Jim Ryun, Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran. Those weren’t champagne corks you heard the Friday before the holiday; that was the sound of these men’s heads popping out of utter darkness as they finally decided to federalize airport security after previously voting “no.”

Still, we mourn the loss of employment for KCI’s charming pensioners, who haven’t yet let a hijacker pilot a Vanguard jet into the side of the Power and Light Building (even if, as The Star reports, airport security failed on average once a week during the past ten years). At least their replacements will be Transportation Department workers instead of John Ashcroft‘s jack-booted Department of Justice slugs.

Ashcroft’s FBI took nearly until Thanksgiving to find the anthrax letter addressed way back in early October to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. After South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle got his, the FBI seized all Capitol mail and Ashcroft made a big show of concern about anthrax on TV. But it turns out he was actually wasting time as a lobbyist for Dick Armey (the House majority leader whose name conveniently describes the Republican majority itself). Ashcroft presumably wanted to weasel out of doing FBI background checks on the new feds. According to the Associated Press, he begged right-wing Missouri Republican Representative Jo Ann Emerson in late October to vote against making passenger screeners federal employees, even whining, “I’ve got my plate full.”

“I said, ‘I know you do, but I have incredible faith in your wisdom and judgment,”‘ Emerson told the AP.

Emerson later explained her vote in a statement saying, “As a conservative, nine times out of ten, I would vote for privatization and smaller government. This was the tenth time. I believe that airport security is a national security issue, and one of few roles of government. Airport security needs to be a career, not just a temporary job. And we cannot afford to have gang members, convicted felons and illegal aliens securing this line of American defense.”

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