Do not underestimate the significance of what happened in the Alabama Ethics Commission Wednesday.
Do not underestimate what happened to the life, the career, and the legacy of Gov. Robert Bentley.
It was - make no mistake about this -- a boot to the gut, a kick to a man who was already spiraling down. It was a stunning blow to a man who was in many ways already broken.
It is hard, today, to imagine Bentley serving out the remainder of his term.
It's hard to envision him surviving the summer.
And it had little to do with the sweet nothings he whispered to former aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason. It had nothing to do with sex, or tawdry come-ons, or simple mistakes of the flesh.
It had everything to do with the kind of arrogance that always gets politicians in trouble. It had to do with using the people's money and equipment - not to mention public employees - to conceal or cover up his own improprieties. It had to do with using campaign money as he saw fit, for thinking the law is just a suggestion that did not apply to him.
Bentley knew it. He knew it was a momentous day even before the commission found probable cause to believe he violated the Alabama Ethics Law and the Fair Campaign Practices act. The commission referred four potential felonies to the Montgomery DA, each one of them a possible 20 years in prison.
It is a serious thing. Perhaps more serious than the governor's heart condition. Which is why Bentley showed up to testify before the Ethics Commission Wednesday, to unsuccessfully refute the witnesses that came before that body and incriminated him.
The public was not allowed to see it, but former Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier testified in the morning, and former campaign strategist Angi Horn Stalnaker. His former bodyguard, Ray Lewis, spoke before the panel. These are his former friends, people who he has, in the last 18 months, worked to discredit and destroy.
And they weren't the only ones. Secretary of State John Merrill testified. So did another former bodyguard, and others.