Rand Paul's plagiarized hits keep on coming:

As first reported by BuzzFeed, there are unmistakable similarities between an opinion piece Paul wrote for The Washington Times on drug sentencing in September, and an article written by Dan Stewart of The Week a week earlier.

BuzzFeed highlighted two excerpts from Stewart's piece — an introduction to mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses and the story of a man affected by them — from which Paul appears to have borrowed heavily.

And finally, Paul was forced to respond in a way that was not an invitation to a duel. Politico's Tal Kopan writes about a statement from Paul's office:

“In the thousands of speeches and op-eds Sen. Paul has produced, he has always presented his own ideas, opinions and conclusions. Sen. Paul also relies on a large number of staff and advisers to provide supporting facts and anecdotes – some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly,” Paul senior adviser Doug Stafford said in a statement Tuesday. “Footnotes presenting supporting facts were not always used.”

That's some serious cowardice, right there. It puts the blame on a mass of nameless Paul staffers, suggests that Paul really just suffers from a footnoting problem—which is simply not true, as anyone who has read about even one of these charges of plagiarism could attest—and tries to brush everything under the rug with a phony sheen of accountability. This is a wholly unsatisfying conclusion to this whole plagiarism thing, but I kind of think that Paul is going to manage to get away with it.

UPDATE 10:47 AM: Paul talked with the New York Times to say that no staffers will be fired. He sounds peeved:

“What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers,” he said.

Poor baby! Why won't everyone just leave him alone to copy papers in peace?