Embarrassing, maybe worse.

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The level of political malpractice has become an existential threat.

IN THIS SPACE, we often have expressed the view the American two-party system is broken, dominated by oversized political ambition and ego, and the influence of big money. So look at this:

• Last week it was revealed the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped finance opposition research by a former British spy into alleged Russia ties for Donald Trump, resulting in a dossier of salacious and largely unconfirmed accusations against Trump and his relationship with the Kremlin. Reports say the former Brit spy initially had been hired by unnamed Republicans during the GOP primary election contest.

• Also last week it was revealed a data collection company called Cambridge Analytica, which did work for the Trump campaign, directly contacted WikiLeaks and the infamous Julian Assange trying to come up with dirt on Clinton. Cambridge Analytica's vice president was Steve Bannon, who went on to be hired by Trump as his White House strategist. The White House denies anything wrong took place.

• Rhetoric heated up regarding the 2010 acquisition by Russians of a Canadian company controlling substantial amounts of uranium. The U.S. State Department, when Clinton was secretary, had to sign off on the deal. Republican critics, including Trump, allege corruption and claim the Clinton Foundation was getting millions at the time from Russians. Hillary Clinton calls the allegations "baloney."

ADD ALL THAT to the continuing investigations swirling around the 2016 presidential campaign and who did what to whom. Without running through all that again, it suffices to say the swamp is still plenty slimy around Washington.

Then there's the unseemly feuds between rival politicians. Americans have come to expect vile exchanges between Republicans and Democrats, and the current crop does not fall short on the scale.

But it's astonishing, almost on a daily basis, to watch the level of rancor and insult between President Trump and various Republicans in Congress. As if the now-routine name-calling isn't enough, the back and forth has risen to the level of some GOP congressmen questioning Trump's fitness for office, and vice versa.

Is this really the kind of country we live in now?

ONE MIGHT ASSUME the saving grace in all this would be the Robert Mueller investigation. After all, he is the former FBI head with a tenure untainted by any kind of scandal. He was appointed special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election from an independent perspective. The appointment was made by the deputy attorney general in Trump's own Department of Justice. While everyone else in partisan Washington is drawn to cameras and microphones like flies to manure, Mueller scrupulously tries to avoid them.

But just a couple weeks ago, Trump tweeted: "The Russian hoax continues ..."

Meanwhile, with the House and Senate investigations, any pretense of nonpartisanship has broken down. Democrats spin and salivate to point fingers at Trump while Republicans twist themselves into pretzels to excuse the kind of behavior from their own leader that would have them screaming for impeachment of an opponent.

In this demoralizing political environment, it's easy to despair that facts and truth ever can drill through the slime and definitively answer important public questions.

IT NEEDS TO BE SAID: These two political parties are not the solution; they are the problem. Tune out the high rhetoric as they drape themselves in the flag - all either party cares about is power, and the spoils of power. They do excel, however, at one thing. They are masterful liars, vowing their devotion to improving the lives of everyday Americans. Question for the folks: How's that working out for you?

Both sides are more than willing - the word is eager - to shade the truth and ignore anything that doesn't fit the narrative advanced by the party. If the leadership of this country, both sides of the aisle, can't be trusted to care about facts and truth, their continued presence has become an existential threat to American liberty.

For now, the people are sovereign. For now, the Constitution still stands. For now, the people could - emphasis on could, if they'd just vote - rise up and throw these rascals out at the earliest opportunity.

For now.

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