The solution to a growing virus called Trent Lott should have been simple.

If the Senate Majority Leader is, as many suspect, a racist, then he didn’t deserve to lead.

If, as he claims, he is just plain dumb and stupid for praising retired Senator Strom Thurmond’s failed 1948 run for President on a racist platform, then he didn’t deserve to lead.

Either way, Lott didn’t deserve to lead anything, except maybe a collection of bigoted cowards who hide their faces under white sheets and meet at night to burn crosses.

Right up until he finally called it quits today, the only one who wanted Lott to stay was Lott himself and the petulant Mississippian was throwing a daily temper tantrum to prove even more how he’s lost it.

Privately, he told Senate colleagues that if they forced him out of the Majority Leader’s job, he’d quit the Senate and let the Democratic governor of his state appoint a member of the other party to his job, putting his party’s slender hold on the majority at risk. Now he says publicly he intends to stay in the Senate but insiders say he is bitter and may not stick to that promise.