Gov. Chris Gregoire is trying to gild a pile of manure when she says, "The Legislature has come together and done significant work on behalf of the people," on the state budget mess.
The Legislature, with Democrats in control of both houses, and the governor's office also in Democratic hands, has known at least since November that the state budget was in crisis.
Yet all dithered through a 105-day session, putting off until now any meaningful attempt to resolve the staggering problem.
Now the governor has called the Legislature back for a special session aimed solely at the budget crisis -- although the magnitude of the budget problem is such that implementing changes could require altering other laws, too.
It costs money to keep the Legislature in session, and compared to the $5 billion in state spending that must be slashed in the next 30 days, it's more than a trifle.
With estimates ranging between $16,000 and $20,000 a day, the 30-day special session could run to a total cost of $600,000 -- enough to make a dent in the state's deficit.
The delay in addressing this most important of all the Legislature's duties leaves state agencies in suspense over how many people they must let go, if any.
And local schools, as was pointed out in a story in the Herald Tuesday, are in a terrible bind, not knowing how much money they will lose, even as they are required by law to notify in a timely fashion all who might lose their jobs as a result.
The Senate has a budget and the House has a budget and the governor had a budget. The Senate and House must sort out their differences and send a bill to the governor before anyone's questions begin to be answered.
A veto by the governor is, of course, possible, but seems unlikely.
We've hoped for a hero or heroine to push through a resolution to the chaotic money situation in Olympia. Some Republicans, and Democrats, too, have tried, but the blame for the Legislature's financial troubles is due more to the faltering national and state economies than either political party.
But the special session is the Democrats to own.
They have the power.
They have the votes.
They have the leadership positions in the House and Senate.
They had the agenda, and they just let the regular session slip away.
For the next two years, at a minimum, our local schools will be directly and profoundly affected by what comes out of this session and the governor's office.
State government owed us all better than it has delivered.
It owed students and teachers a great deal more of a sense of surety than it provided.
Looking ahead, when we finally receive a state budget that the governor signs, we don't want to hear any self-congratulations coming out of Olympia from any of the parties to our fiscal mess.
The questions and the consequences of their answers are no less easy to find now than they would have been if the legislators had done their job in the first place, during the regular session.
All the gilding from a circus parade can't cover up the image of time wasted and work left undone in the regular session.