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Surely, the good senator from Pennsylvania can find something more important to do than investigate the NFL

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Sen. Arlen Specter just doesn't get it.

While he's out running around worrying about whether the New England Patriots stole signals during a football game, the country he supposedly represents is teetering on an economic cliff.

Gas prices are nearing $4 a gallon, homes are being foreclosed on at record numbers and folks are scared about what might be next.

And, in case he forgot, the country's at war.

The honorable Republican from Pennsylvania needs a reality check.

Specter is accusing the National Football League of covering up the "Spygate" scandal that came to light last season. Yes the Patriots were caught with their hand in the cookie jar ? they stole signals from other teams against NFL rules. And the team, and its coach paid dearly. The NFL levied a $500,000 fine against Pats coach Bill Belichick and a $250,000 fine against the team, which also lost a first-round draft choice.

But to hear Specter explain, all of civilization could be in jeopardy:

"If you can cheat in the NFL, you can cheat in college, you can cheat in high school, you can cheat on your grade-school math test. There's no limit to what you can do," the New York Times quoted Specter as saying.

Now it's official ? any student caught cheating in school can sue the New England Patriots for setting a bad example. Can a politician really raise questions of ethics with a straight face?

Specter needs to wake up. You would have thought he would have learned from his Republican Congressional colleagues in the House who were embarrassed by their actions during the hearings on the MLB Mitchell Report earlier this year. At those hearings many of the Republicans made a spectacle of themselves as they gushed over Roger Clemens. When they weren't asking for autographs they were shamelessly politicizing that process.

That hearing shouldn't have been held either.

Now Specter threatens to politicize sports issues once again.

Does he have a conflict or interest in all of this? Specter, a Philadelphia Eagles fan, says he's representing some 12 million Pittsburgh Steeler fans that felt cheated because the Patriots might have used their dastardly deeds against that team. Just for the record, the Patriots defeated the Steelers during the AFC championship playoff game in 2005 and then went on to beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl that year.

And, by the way, Specter also happens to have received a good chunk of financial contributions from Comcast, a Philly-based company at odds with the NFL Network over broadcasting rights.

Yes, the NFL is a big-time, money-making industry. But so is professional wrestling, and there's no one calling for investigations there. At least not yet.

The NFL will have the sense to police itself or suffer the consequences. In the meantime, doesn't Specter and the U.S. government have something better to do?