THE SOB STORY OF KEN AND LINDA LAY 2/11/02 I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or throw up.The televised tear-jerker entitled "Ken Lay, What A Guy!" starred Linda Lay, the wife of Enron CEO Ken, in an Emmy Award-winning performance. Like the wives of prominent politicians who get caught with their pants down, Linda was thrust in front of the cameras to shed wifely tears and testify to the inner goodness of her husband, who's been caught with this hands in the pants pockets of Enron investors and employees, bringing them and their company down. Only it wasn't his doing, wailed Linda on NBC's "Today" show, explaining that Ken is a "moral human being who would do absolutely nothing wrong." Well Linda, all those employees who lost their jobs and life savings because of executive-suite finagling on Ken's watch might have a different perspective on your man's morality. Oh, but Linda cried to the tv interviewer, it's not about those people...it's about us! When asked directly how she felt about the employees' losses, she snapped back: "We've lost everything." In Shakespearean tones she moaned, "It's gone. There's nothing left." Well, not exactly nothing. For example, her sob story tv performance was broadcast from the Lay's $7 million penthouse towering above an exclusive Houston enclave, so don't look for them at the homeless shelter. Indeed, while pleading poverty, she was seated in a room outfitted with oriental rugs, wood paneling, imported marble, and exquisite furnishings. That room cost more than your and my houses combined. Her idea of "nothing" is that she and Ken are having to sell three of their four vacation properties in Aspentwo of which are priced at $6 million each. Then there's all the money Ken socked away in his gravy years$200 million in the last three years alone. Do you think a big wad of that might be in one of those secret offshore accounts that the Enron executives set up for themselves? This is Jim Hightower saying...I think I'm going to throw up.
ENRON GOT "NO FAVORS" FROM GOVERNMENT 2/13/02 It's hard to write satire in America, because our daily news feed is filled with so much absurdity that ridicule is rendered redundant. Take the official political reaction to the Enron scandal, which is that while Enron honchos had to use forklifts to deliver all the campaign cash they gave to assorted politicians, they got nothingabsolutely nothingin return for their money. How do you satirize that? Got nothing? Enron used the Bush White House like its own coin-operated favor-dispenser. It had put about $700,000 into George W's election bid, and it began to collect as soon as Bush's tush hit the presidential chair. Here are a few examples: One, Enron execs got six private meetings with Dick Cheney to help write the Bush energy billwhich just happens to include 17 special interest provisions that would benefit Enron; Two, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's first formal action was to scuttle a Clinton initiative to shut down off-shore tax havens that let corporations skip-out on paying their taxeswith 881 of these off-shore accounts, Enron had more than any other of the corporate tax dodgers; Three, Bush let Enron hand-picked the head of the agency that regulates its business; Four, George's infamous "stimulus" package contains a $287 million tax rebate for Enron; Five, Vice President Cheney personally intervened to try to make India pay more than $2 billion to Enron for a power-plant scam that Enron was running there. All of this is nothing? Then there's Enron's homebase of Texas. Governor Rick Perry, appointed an Enron executive to head the state commission that regulates the company. The next day, Perry got $25,000 from Enron's CEO. Likewise, the judges on the Texas Supreme Court have pocketed some $135,000 in Enron campaign cash, then ruled for the company in five out of six cases brought before them. This is Jim Hightower saying...Enron always got what it paid for. "Embattled PUC leader steps down" Austin American Statesman 1/19/2002 "Enron Ruling by Nominee to US Court is Being Noticed" by Jim Yardley 1/22/2002 "Before crash, Enron Chief urged stock buys" Austin American Statesman 1/19/2002 "The United States of Enron" New York Times by Frank Rick 1/19/2002 "Enron got It's Money's Worth" Los Angeles Times by Robert Scheer 1/22/2002 "How the White House Energy Plan Benefited Enron" Prepared for Rep. Henry A. Waxman 1/16/2002
THE PEOPLE SPEAK ON ENRON 2/14/02 While George W's p.r. flacks keep insisting that the Enron scandal is too complicated for us commoners to followthe people themselves seem very engaged and have no trouble connecting all the dots to see the big (and ugly) picture being drawn here. One place to find what folks are thinking is in one of the mass media's last democratic forums: Letters-to-the-editor columns. As I travel around the country, I'm impressed by the savvy people are showing as they pen their thoughts, practically all of which express outrage at what Enron represents. Here's a sample: Carol Fletcher from Pflugerville, Texas: "Enron failed to pay any income taxes in four of the past five years, all the while lobbying for and receiving tax rebates. The hubris of Enron and similar companies is nauseating. I hope to see candidates take a stand with specific recommendations, not just rhetoric, as to how to end this corporate gluttony." C.L. Fincher of Little Rock: "Oh, yes, we little people understand exactly what happened at Enron, and we are furious about it. Our course of action is crystal clear: appoint a special prosecutor who is acceptable to both parties." Anne Kirby, Palo Alto: "In addition to punishing the wrongdoers, we should see to it that the money they made in this scandal is taken from them and returned to the investors they duped, especially their own employees." Peter Hill of Boston, commenting on a fired Enron worker who now has no money for his son's illness: "If this country had universal health care, a company's failure would not mean the end of health coverage for laid-off employees." John Koppel of Bethesda, Maryland: "Enron's collapse was a product of a culture of greed, dishonesty, ethical blindness, and wishful thinking that has characterized much of corporate American and that has been allowed to flourish essentially unchecked for the last 20 years (largely because politicians from both parties are dependent on campaign contributions from big business). This is Jim Hightower saying...Bush Inc. might be fooling themselves, but they're not fooling the people. "Enron and the culture of greed" Austin American Statesman 1/23/2002 Letters to the Editor