I never thought I’d say this, but: Bring back John Ashcroft!

Yes, in retrospect, Ashcroft’s looking better and better. He may have stuck us with the unwieldy and unnecessary Patriot Act, but he was still more loyal to the Constitution than Alberto Gonzales. Even under sedation, Ashcroft refused to endorse George Bush’s illegal wiretapping.

And it’s now clear that Ashcroft had a better appreciation for the law than Michael Mukasey.

At first, Bush’s nominee to replace Gonzales seemed like a nice enough guy. An experienced federal judge. Prominent New Yorker. Sponsored by top Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.). A sure bet for confirmation.

But that was before Mukasey had been brainwashed by the Bush White House. The Mukasey we see today has made two fatal errors. He insists it’s sometimes OK for the president to act outside the law. He also refuses to declare waterboarding an illegal form of torture, even though it’s been against the law in this country since the late 1800s.

With those two stances, Michael Mukasey has automatically disqualified himself from serving as attorney general.

Surely, at a minimum, the nation’s top law enforcement officer must agree that no man is above the law, not even the president of the United States. The alternative is the kind of imperial presidency, if not dictatorship, practiced by George Bush and Dick Cheney. Better to burn the Constitution than continue down that path.

The Senate should vote NO on Michael Mukasey. Bring back John Ashcroft.