If mom was right, and you are “known by the company you keep,” the animal rights nuts at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have a serious identity problem. The Denver Post reports that before he resigned amid accusations of soliciting prostitutes and using crystal meth, disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard was lined up to narrate a 15-minute PETA slaughterhouse video. Asked by the Post about his fallen would-be spokesman, PETA vice president Bruce Friedrich replied:

We were very disappointed that Pastor Ted pulled out. This project needs someone who is committed to thinking outside the box the way Pastor Ted did. We are continuing to look for another evangelical who is preaching about moral issues.

We certainly agree that Haggard was an outside-the-box thinker, but that’s not always a good thing — as PETA demonstrates on a daily basis. And it’s not clear whether it was Haggard’s three-year relationship with an “escort” or his alleged drug use that made him a “moral” preacher. We might ask a similar question about Friedrich, who promotes himself as a shining example of “Christian Mercy” while advocating arson.

Considering PETA’s habit of indiscriminately embracing celebrities and criminals, some are bound to be more embarrassing than helpful. Who can forget Pam Anderson’s sex-tape scandal? PETA’s praise of Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh for his 11th-hour vegetarianism? Or Edward Furlong’s arrest for attempting to “liberate” some grocery-store lobsters? Or Dennis Rodman’s … well, everything. Sure, PETA has Alec Baldwin, but it’s been mostly downhill for him since The Hunt for Red October. (Except for his Saturday Night Live holiday turn as Pete Schwetty. We’ll give him that one.)

We can accept that PETA’s leaders solicited help from “Pastor Ted” before they knew how radioactive he would later become. But praising him in public after his scandal broke indicates that the group no longer has any meaningful standards — If it ever had them at all. Since the door appears to be wide open for new PETA spokesmen,might we suggest O.J. Simpson as a vegan-rehabilitation project? And while we’re at it, Nazi Holocaust denier David Duke could help broaden PETA’s already strong appeal among anti-Semites. Just a thought.

If PETA’s latest shenanigans have you steamed, we’ve got just the ticket. Spread good will this holiday season — and a dose of reality — by giving a PetaKillsAnimals.com shirt or bumper sticker to that special someone!