The NCGOP is attempting, once again, to distract from their own problems and create artificial ones for Governor Cooper. For February, the imagined “slush fund” resulting from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline negations has been fodder for the majority party in the General Assembly.

If they believed there were honest problems with the arrangement, you might think that a reasonable sit-down with the relevant parties would occur. Nope. As the N&O reported, just days after starting his job, Cooper’s legislative affairs director Lee Lilley received a warm welcome by way of an hour-long grilling session from Republicans on the joint appropriations committee.

Rep. Darren Jackson described the event as “shameful” and an “ambush.” The Republican members of the committee were hell-bent on either discovering or concocting a scandal. Rep. Dean Arp is quoted as saying “The appearance of evil is insurmountable.” What? The fund is in place to mitigate the cost of environmental damage that the pipeline may yield. If protecting the environment is evil now, I’m not sure that Cooper can breathe without GOP criticism.

Should we really pretend that the Republicans in the state are bending over backwards to defend the constitution? For too long, we accept the idea that Republicans stand for the constitution just because they say that they do; we take them at their word when, time and again, they prove themselves wrong.

The Republicans have been taken to court over their gerrymandered districts, their “bathroom bill” HB2, stripping the governor of his appointment power, drawing judicial districts that will pit incumbent minority judges against one another, voter ID laws that targeted African-Americans with “surgical precision” — there will likely be something new by the time this article goes up.

The goal here seems obvious now: the GOP in North Carolina has so systematically tarnished their reputation that the new course of action is to smear the governor and bring him down to their level. Apparently, the most popular governor in recent history, after years of spotless service as attorney general, has become a crony and a crook. That’s what they would have you to believe. Don’t buy what they’re selling. Pat McCrory has shared the story on his accounts, no doubt planning his 2020 comeback. His only chance of winning, it seems, is to hawk imagined corruption about his future opponent.

For Democrats and Governor Cooper in particular, take some advice from George Bernard Shaw: Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.