Just tonight, on the John Stewart show, I learned that Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, was the target of some terrible, dirty politics in the election of the Speaker for the next term. Straus, a traditional mainstream Republican who focuses on fiscal issues and calls himself a fiscal conservative, is disdained by conservative activists who have targeted him since the fall election, when the GOP piled up a 101-49 majority over Democrats in the House . There were loud protests from Tea Party activists in the groups Americans for Prosperity, the Austin Tea Party Patriots, the Texas Pastor Council, and Texas Eagle Forum who insisted on a more conservative leader, and organized to oust him. Pro-life advocates including key Catholic clergy worked hard against Straus because of his weak pro-life record. Further, anti-gay forces worked behind the scenes in the race for speaker of the Texas House; it was made public when The Texas Observer posted a story in which John Cook, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, explained his opposition to Speaker Joe Straus. The race to lead the Texas House of Representatives took a very nasty a religious turn, with some conservatives in the state suggesting that the speaker of the House, who is a Jewish Republican, should be replaced by a "Christian conservative." Cook said “I got into politics to put Christian conservatives into office.” And apparently some conservative Republican activists working to unseat Straus circulated e-mails that emphasized his Judaism. I understand Straus handled the nastiness with diplomacy, grace, and intelligence.