Here's the difference between Pat Powers and me: He doesn't think that state employee diverting, if not outright stealing, over a hundred million dollars from the state of South Dakota is a big deal, but he thinks a Democratic gubernatorial candidate plagiarizing words from other Democrats' websites deserves three screaming blog posts in a row.

Here's another difference: I'll admit that, on the latter point, he's entirely correct.

Rep. Susan Wismer, Democratic candidate for governor

Rep. Susan Wismer, Democratic candidate for governor

I wanted to spend my evening reveling in one of Rep. Susan Wismer's best campaign promises yet: elect her, and she'll direct Attorney General Marty Jackley to charge Joop Bollen with theft by deception. (She'd better have that order in the chute ready to go: she says the statute of limitations is seven years; Bollen signed his conflict-of-interest contract on January 15, 2008; we inaugurate the winner of this gubernatorial election on January 6, 2015.)

But I can't, because some meathead on Team Wismer plagiarized chunks of her Issues page.

Hey, Meathead! I don't know who you are, but I am talking to you.

You're telling me that you're writing about a woman who wants to be governor of South Dakota, and you think it's smart not just to steal text, but to steal text from people running to govern Wisconsin and Texas? You're telling me that Wismer is so hard to write about that you couldn't come up with anything on your own? You're telling me you can't simply tell Wismer's story and Wismer's positions in her own words? Do you realize how bad this makes your candidate look?

Plagiarism. I hate plagiarism. I make no excuses for plagiarism.

And Wismer's first impulse was to make excuses for plagiarism:

Wismer downplayed the incident when asked about it Thursday afternoon.

"This isn't academia. This is politics," Wismer said. "We all do what we can to save time" [David Montgomery, "BuzzFeed: Wismer Copied Issue Statements," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.09.25].

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggghhhhh! Jumpin' Pete Jiminy Hanukkah Trashcan-Kickin' Sakes!

Permit me to calm down for a moment and acknowledge the accuracy of Wismer's initial response. Indeed, this isn't academia. If it were a classroom, I would make this a teachable moment. I would explain to my student (for the second time, because when I teach writing, we cover this on the first day) what plagiarism is, why her action constitutes plagiarism, and how she can avoid plagiarism in the future.

But this isn't my classroom. It's politics, where the consequences are such that we don't have time for teachable moments. We barely have time for the butt-chewing Meathead and Wismer deserve.

No, we do not all plagiarize. You do not save time by plagiarizing. Someone will catch you, everyone will read about it, and you will spend all week scrubbing the website and rewriting the issue statements that you were supposed to write in the first place. You (er, your candidate, not you, because you no longer work for the campaign, right? right?!) spend the rest of the campaign leaning into a constant hail of easy shots that your opponents are entirely justified in taking.

(I actually don't think Governor Daugaard will say one word about this incident. He won't think he needs to. But his surrogates will have a field day.)

Wismer quickly (but not quickly enough) figured out that she had responded poorly:

I understand the seriousness of these allegations. Under no circumstances would I ever condone the stealing of another person’s work. I am disappointed in this situation. My staff has put processes in place to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen on my campaign again [Susan Wismer, quoted in Andrew Kaczynski, "SD Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Somehow Plagiarized Biographical Sentence," BuzzFeed, 2014.09.25].

I'm going to do Wismer one favor and not quote the rest of her apology, which starts to turn back into an excuse that she should not be making. Just stop right there. Someone on the team stole text. Stealing text is bad. Heads have rolled. I'm sorry.

I want to compare Pat and me again on our willingness to hold the captain of the ship responsible... but no. I don't get a tidy conclusion or a message focused on the argument that Democrats are winning, because some Democratic meathead did something really, really stupid.

Some meathead plagiarized. Meathead's boss will now catch all sorts of crap... and deserve it.