Your strings are showing.

In the wake of Tuesday's palace coup, serious writers and opinion leaders have traced the evil to its source, Art Pope. Even the News and Observer gets the story straight.

All right, let's put this in old-timey terms. The Democrats will be the McCoys, and the Republicans will be the Hatfields in our little story. So the fussin' was going along pretty well, as usual, and then one day in 2003 it turned out that there was a standoff, specifically when the Republicans -- our Hatfields, remember -- and the Democrats -- McCoys -- were all tied up in the state House or Representatives.

So ol' Rep. Richard Morgan (Hatfield) of Moore County decides he's going to make a deal with Speaker Jim Black (McCoy) to share the speakership, which would represent bipartisan power-sharing. Oh boy, that made Rep. Leo Daughtry (Hatfield) of Johnston County mad, along with a lot of other Republicans. Cousin Leo had speakering ambitions himself.

In feuding terms, see, Cousin Richard had just done the equivalent of smoochin' up with one of the McCoy girls. Some of his cousins have been after him for disloyalty ever since, even though the power-sharing worked fairly well when you consider that the House actually accomplished some things it needed to accomplish.

Tuesday, they got him. Thanks in part to an infusion of money from former legislator and Raleigh businessman Art Pope, who didn't like Morgan's 2003 deal at all, Morgan wasn't just up against his GOP primary opponent, Joe Boylan. He was battling mailings, funded by corporate money from Pope (a Morgan complaint questions the legality of using such corporate contributions).

The mailings also targeted Morgan allies such as veteran Wake County Rep. Rick Eddins, who along with Morgan himself became a casualty in the Tuesday balloting. State party leaders as well had joined in opposition to Morgan and to others who dared to buck the party line.

This could be characterized as a family squabble, but the problem is that it foreshadows trouble in the General Assembly in terms of bipartisan cooperation on issues that demand lawmakers work together: public education, health care, state employees' salaries, emergency preparedness, lobbying and ethics reform.

But which pundit managed to write two riveting summaries of the election without once mentioning the hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into key races illegally by Mr Pope? You guessed it. The one who works for Art Pope. I don't know if this little puppet ever had any credibility or not, but if he did, it is now long gone. The strings are visible for all to see.