Catch Me, I'm Falling!
So let's get a few things straight: George W. Bush was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible insider trading more than 10 years ago and was not cleared. (No, contrary to the mantra from those Beltway hack pundits, he was not cleared: As The Washington Post noted, the SEC's report stated that its dropping the case "must in no way be construed as indicating that the party has been exonerated.") What is true is that the SEC?then under his father's administration?took no action against W, saying that it "appears" that Bush didn't engage in illegal activity, but left the possibility open that it would reexamine the case pending the arrival of further information (yeah, right). So now Bush tells us that he's confident that Vice President Dick Cheney, currently being investigated by W's SEC for possibly having cooked the books at Halliburton and walking off with a profit of more than 20 million bucks, will be cleared by the SEC. Are we actually supposed to trust the outcome if indeed Cheney is cleared? Is it not time for an independent investigation of the Vice President?
Not to worry, the White House tells us. Harvey Pitt, director of the SEC, who was appointed by Bush and whom Bush has defended against calls for his resignation by Sen. John McCain and others, assures us that he will impartially judge Cheney?and also adds, by the way, that he will be able to impartially judge all of the corporations he's investigating even though many of them are his former clients, companies that he represented, as an attorney, against charges of corporate abuse!
Meanwhile Bush's secretary of the Army, Thomas White, a former Enron executive, cashed out his Enron stock for $12 million, but he told congressional investigators last week that he can't remember exactly how much money he made as an Enron executive?that it was more than $20 million, but that he's unable to recall if it was more than $30 million. Cute, isn't it, that he's just sort of misplaced 10 or so million dollars while many Enron employees have watched their life savings dwindle to nothing? While some former Enron employees may indeed be thrown out of their own homes, White is building a posh house on a beach in Florida?just like that WorldCom guy.
As my Southern Italian immigrant grandma used to say sarcastically when she saw such blatant displays of greed, "It's a nice country, America."
Oh, I can just see the bloodthirsty e-mails: "But Clinton?" "But the Democrats?" "But Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe?" Earth to Clinton-haters, come in please: Bill Clinton is not?I repeat, not?the president of the United States any longer. This is your man in the Oval Office now, and while he might not have gotten any blowjobs from interns, he certainly seems to have gotten quite a few from oil company executives at Harken Energy and elsewhere. And Cheney?well, it seems he may have gotten blowjobs, handjobs, every-kind-of-job from Halliburton, enough to make even the most ardent west-side hooker collapse in exhaustion. Now, if the DNC's Terry McAuliffe, an investor in Global Crossing (a company now under SEC investigation), turns out to be guilty of any improprieties surrounding his $18 million cash-out of stock from that company before it fell, then he should be punished just the same. Corporate corruption is corporate corruption.
But there is one big difference: McAullife is not?I repeat, not?the president of the United States, nor is he the vice president or the secretary of the Army, nor is he one of several other former CEOs now sitting in the President's cabinet. So let's cut the diversionary tactics and get with the program.
Actually, some conservative pundits do seem to be acknowledging that all of this really is deep doo-doo for the Prez, and at least one has come up with a frightfully honest proposal for getting Bush's woes off the front pages. Flagged by the online publication The Rittenhouse Review, which warned readers, "we're not making this up," this is a doozy, not to mention that it goes far toward confirming suspicions of White House critics about the upcoming Iraqi expedition.
"Go on, Mr. President: Wag the dog," wrote John Podhoretz in the New York Post, begging Bush to invade Iraq soon, in a column headlined "October Surprise, Please." "You're in some domestic political trouble, Mr. President. You need to change the subject? Your enemies are delirious with excitement about the corporate-greed scandals and the effect they might have on your popularity and the GOP's standing in November."
As another (former) New York Post columnist, the long-time gossip columnist Suzy, used to say, "Catch me, I'm falling!"
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, led by that indefatigable blowhard William Donohue, seems so traumatized by the priest sex-abuse scandals that it is ready to cut a deal and accept homosexuality in the priesthood if only we will stop calling the clergy pedophiles (a sort of twisted Catholic version of defining deviancy down). Well, not really, but get a load of this: In response to the July 3 episode of the wonderfully tasteless South Park, in which a bishop complains to the pope that "we'll never be able to have sex with boys again," the Catholic League sent out this clarification: "The scandal in the Church is not about priests having sex with prepubescent boys. It is about priests having sex with postpubescent young men. The former is called pedophilia and the latter is called homosexuality. So if [South Park's creators] really had guts, they would do a show on gay priests."
Can you imagine if, before the sex abuse scandal, South Park had actually done a show on gay priests? The Catholic League would have sent out missives saying that there are no gay priests and how dare they portray priests that way. But hey, now they want a show on gay priests?anything to get them away from the dreaded p-word (and of course put the blame on some group).
Actually, South Park didn't technically get it wrong even if Donohue were right: 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds are called "boys" by many?as in "teenage boys"?so the bishop, in telling the pope, "we can't have sex with boys again," could very well be talking about "postpubescent young men." But no matter, since Donohue, as usual, is not right: This is not a scandal about gay priests; it's a scandal about cardinals and bishops who looked the other way while priests sexually abused youth who were put in their care. Seems to me that South Park, portraying a bishop whining to the pope about how the cover's now been blown, got it right.
Michelangelo Signorile can be reached at [www.signorile.com](http://www.signorile.com).