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Francis Underwood has nothing on Roy Moore. The real-life Republican Senate candidate in Alabama embodies the mind-bending moral contradictions of a Southern Gothic protagonist far more creepily than the degenerate made-up Democratic president from House of Cards or the fallen actor who portrays him. Mr. Moore oozes icky like an August afternoon in Mobile.

You cannot make this up. Mr. Moore, now a 70-year-old man who has been repeatedly accused of preying on teenage girls while in in his thirties, was twice removed as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama. The first time, in 2003, was after he flouted a higher-court ruling ordering him to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments he had erected in the Alabama Supreme Court building, a violation of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state. The second time, a decade later, it was because he ordered state officials to ignore a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage and instead enforce Alabama's ban on such unions.

And he could now be headed to Washington as Alabama's junior senator. Tuesday's special election to fill the vacancy created when President Donald Trump appointed Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney-General is officially too close to call, which is a miracle in a state where the word Democrat is usually not uttered in polite company. But, this time, many Alabamians are torn between their righteous hate-on for Democrats and the sick feeling Mr. Moore evokes in them.

You see, the Democratic candidate, a former U.S. attorney who once prosecuted two members of the Ku Klux Klan for their involvement in the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham Baptist church that killed four black girls, harbours sinful thoughts. He supports a woman's right to control her own body.

That is pretty much a deal-breaker in Alabama. A plurality of Alabamians are evangelical Christians who see abortion under any circumstances as an evil sin punishable by an eternity spent in hell. They have sought to make the practice illegal since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state bans on it in 1973. The Democratic Senate candidate, Doug Jones, made a big boo-boo by telling MSNBC that he was "not in favour of doing anything that is going to infringe on a woman's right and her freedom to choose." With that, his odds of winning all but went to kingdom come.

His prospects seemed brighter for a while, after the Republican National Committee pulled its support and funding for Mr. Moore when the latter was hit with allegations of sexual improprieties with minors. For a few fleeting weeks it seemed even the GOP had a conscience. But the party ultimately could not resist the temptation of passing tax cuts for the rich and its leaders decided they could not sacrifice a reliable Republican seat in the Senate. Especially since they'll need it if Mr. Trump is to replace one of the remaining liberal judges on the Supreme Court and create a conservative majority that would reinstate abortion bans and uphold the Second Amendment right to bear arms and arms and arms. What's a little (more) hypocrisy when the stakes are this high?

Besides, the die was cast anyway when you-know-who weighed in on Twitter with an endorsement for Mr. Moore. "The Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama," the combover-in-chief wrote. "We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges, 2nd Amendment and more." V.A. stands for the Department of Veterans Affairs, for which, like the military itself, Republicans claim to possess a morally superior love.

The RNC began pouring money into Mr. Moore's campaign last week, just in time to help him mount the kind of get-out-the-vote effort that can make all the difference in a special election, when turnout is low by even U.S. standards. If Mr. Jones has a hope in hell, he will need to ensure African-Americans get to the polls. They make up a quarter of the electorate but usually vote at a fraction of the rate of the white evangelicals who make up half of the state's voters.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any ickier, Mephistopheles himself showed up in Alabama to campaign on Mr. Moore's behalf. "If they can destroy Roy Moore, they can destroy you," Steve Bannon, the ex-White House adviser back running Breitbart News, warned the crowd.

It all makes Francis Underwood look like a choir boy.

Breaking his silence on the issue, U.S. President Donald Trump is discounting allegations of sexual assault against Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore and said Tuesday that voters should not support Moore's "liberal" rival.

The Associated Press