Only Tom DeLay, the Republican poster boy for crime and corruption in politics, would leave Congress by uging his fellow Republicans to "stand on principle." That’s like a Mafia boss telling his cronies to obey the law.

Reports Suzanne Gamboa of The Associated Press:

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay urged colleagues Wednesday to "stand on principle" and ignore the media in a farewell speech to fellow Republicans.

DeLay, facing trial in Texas on campaign money laundering charges, is leaving Congress Friday, ending a 21-year career in the House.

Several rounds of applause and cheers could be heard from behind the doors of the Republicans’ weekly private meeting. When the doors were opened to let a congresswoman in, members could be seen on their feet, cheering and applauding.

DeLay said later to reporters that he had advised GOP House members: "Don’t listen to you guys in this town" and "stand on principle."

"We have been able to make history for 12 years and we’ll do it again," DeLay said he told colleagues.

Later Wednesday, three Democrats marked DeLay’s departure with proposed legislation to reform labor laws in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory. Rep. George Miller D-Calif., said DeLay and convicted ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff have thwarted a decade of efforts to lift the islands’ exemption from a range of U.S. labor, wage and immigration laws.