Not that Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) was out for revenge or anything. But he did seem to enjoy at least a small measure of satisfaction in making mega-GOP-donor Sam Fox squirm during yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to consider Fox's nomination to be ambassador to Belgium.

Fox contributed $50,000 to fund the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads that sought to smear Kerry's Vietnam War record in the 2004 presidential campaign.

The panel did not vote on Fox yesterday, but committee member Kerry got in his say. He walked in a bit late and explained that he did not intend "to play some sort of 'gotcha' game," but he wanted to know: How does the nominee feel about the level of "personal destruction" in politics these days?

Fox replied that he was "very concerned" that politics have become too "mean and destructive," especially with the participation of independent "527" groups such as Swift Boat Veterans. He tried not so subtly to redirect Kerry's line of questioning by saying, "Sir, you're a hero," adding that no 527 group "can take that away from you."

Why then, given Fox's dim views of 527s, did he give such a large chunk of money to help Swift Boat? Kerry asked.

Fox explained that he and his wife donate generously to GOP political causes. "When we're asked, we generally give," he said. He said he could not recall who asked for the Swift Boat donation but explained that he thought it was important to give to a 527 working on behalf of Republicans because a 527 "on the other side" was stooping to such low levels as comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler.

"So two wrongs make a right?" Kerry asked.

Fox said he thought the dirty work of 527 ads was "disgraceful," but "that's the world we live in."