Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was Jack Abramoff’s best friend in Congress. The two were so close that Rohrabacher was the only member of Congress to sign a letter asking a federal judge to give Abramoff a reduced sentence.

“Over many years, I’ve known a far different Jack that the profit-seeking megalomaniac portrayed in the press,” Rohrabacher wrote. “Jack was a selfless patriot for most of the time I knew him.”

But when President Bush visited Rohrabacher’s Orange County locale yesterday to pitch immigration reform, the OC Congressman wanted nothing to do with W.

“I don’t want to be behind him looking glum and not applauding,” Rohrabacher told the LA Times. “So as not to be rude to the president—which I think is inexcusable—I think I’ll just be staying away.”

Wow. Is Rohrabacher insinuating that Jack Abramoff is less toxic than President Bush?

As political scientist John Pitney said of the White House: “I’m not sure they had their OC antennae up.”

UPDATE: Also see New York Times today: “Once Boon, Ties to Bush May Be Bust.”