To understand the spendaholic nanny-staters running things in Washington today -- by which I mean all the Democrats there and, on any given day, at least half of the Republicans -- you have to consider the old tale of the scorpion and the frog.

The spring rains have swollen the creek, submerging the rocks and leaving the scorpion no way to cross. He approaches the frog and says “Brother frog, with your strong legs you still cross the creek each day with ease. Won’t you carry me across on your back?”

“Do you think I’m a fool?” the frog asks. “If I let you climb on my back you’ll sting me and I’ll die.”

“That’s ridiculous,” the scorpion replies. “If I were to sting you while we’re crossing the creek, we’d BOTH drown.”

The frog thinks it over, agrees the scorpion’s argument makes sense, and obligingly lets his neighbor climb up on his back for the trip across the stream. Half-way across, the scorpion stings him.

With paralysis spreading through his limbs, the doomed frog has time to croak out one more question before they both slip beneath the surging waters to their deaths.

“Why did you do that?” the frog asks. “Now we’re both going to die.”

“I couldn’t help it,” the scorpion replies. “It’s just in my nature.”

After the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, no less a Democratic light than Bill Clinton said the final straw that caused Americans to turn them out -- after half a century of corruption and irresponsibility -- was the party’s overreaching on guns, in an attempt to please their inner city constituencies of single moms and nanny-state intellectuals by characterizing hunters and other gun owners as murderous yokels.

It certainly didn’t help that the Democratic party had become known for “taxing anything that moves,” or that Miss Hillary had gone down in flames seeking to set up a form of socialized medicine that would have made it illegal to “bribe” your own doctor by offering to pay him in cash.

Well, the Democrats have now been back in total control of Congress and the White House for less than two months. So, in the midst of the worst economic recession in decades, do they wisely hold back their stingers till they reach the far shore, treading lightly for now on tax hikes, turning doctors into slaves of the state, and advancing their time-worn, cumbersome but useless “gun control” agenda?

It’s just not in their nature. They can’t help themselves. Already, new Attorney General Eric Holder has announced (in a Feb. 25 news Justice Department conference) “We would like to ... re-institute the ban on the sale of assault weapons” -- a purposeful misnomer for one-shot-at-a-time semiautos, since true “assault” rifles and machine pistols capable of full-automatic fire are already heavily regulated and out of reach for all but the rich. Mr. Holder also told the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing that he wants to close the non-existent “gun show loophole” (same-state firearms sales between private parties are legal without a background check everywhere, not just at gun shows, where they’ve largely vanished due to political pressure), and to ban “cop-killer bullets.”

Since cops are mortal, any bullet can kill one. This hoplophobe’s term of art actually means “bullets which can penetrate a Kevlar vest” ... which includes the projectiles of virtually every hunting or rifle cartridge manufactured. Ban “cop-killer bullets” and you’ve reduced most firearms other than pellet guns and .22s to the usefulness of a 12-pound metal club.

Meantime, the Democratic Congress rushes through hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending -- 8 percent raises all around -- and the same Barack Obama who set hearts aflutter with his promises of “fiscal responsibility” and deficit reduction in a Tuesday night speech agrees the next day (Feb. 25) to sign them all. The market plunges.

A day later, Mr. Obama promises a trillion dollars in punitive new taxes on “the rich” -- including higher taxes on capital gains to punish investment -- and another stab at Hillarycare. Again, the market plunges.

Pretty soon, “Market plunges another 4 percent” will be relegated to the back-page “briefs.”

The Democrats speak of “an end to partisanship,” just as Napoleon and Hitler spoke of “an end to the squabbles between nations” -- meaning that squabbling would be at an end after everyone had become a subject of the occupying French or Germans.

Where do they heed the wise, “bi-partisan” counsel of those who urge them to slash their spending and to stop borrowing?

If the stock market plummets, where do investors move their remaining money, in search of a safer haven? To bonds. And what do you do, when you buy a bond? You loan your money to the government. If government borrows all the available assets, of course there’s no credit left for private-sector investment -- credit lines that fund factories and car lots. And the answer of the Keynesians -- the guys now in charge in Washington -- to THAT is to “stimulate the economy” through more government spending. Of course, that requires them to borrow more money by selling more bonds ... leaving less credit available out there for the kind of private-sector folks who want to build factories and create real jobs -- the kind that don’t involve digging holes and filling them in again.

They tried this from 1930 through 1940, turning the “stock bubble correction” of 1929 into what we still call The Great Depression. (Unemployment was worse in 1937 than in 1930; you can look it up.) Now, they’ll do it again.

They can’t help themselves. It’s in their nature.