Scandals that Blow

Rating: NNNNNyou have to hand it to those crafty Republicans. When it comes to scandals, they get the choice ones.Sure,.

Rating: NNNNN

you have to hand it to those crafty Republicans. When it comes to scandals, they get the choice ones.Sure, the fallout from the bankruptcy of Houston-based energy trading giant Enron raises two tired, but undeniably important, political issues — and they don’t only apply south of the border.

One issue is the influence corporate campaign dollars have on policy decisions and the need for campaign finance reform — that is, curbing the influence of corporate bucks in elections. The other issue is the need for effective government oversight to protect the public interest from greedy CEOs and shareholders (particularly important here on the eve of Ontario’s blind leap into the open electricity market).

Enron, of course, is intimately tied to the Republican party. Company executives are close to the Bush family and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Bush Jr. presidential campaign in 2000.

But despite the forests of newsprint devoted to this eyebrow-raising yet all too familiar power dance, do Americans really care?

Do they care that the White House is stonewalling on congressional requests for information on energy company execs who met at the White House to develop Bush’s regressive energy policies? Do they care that vice-president Dick Cheney is calling for increased presidential powers to ward off congressional inquiries?

Of course not, or at least that’s what the polls suggest. Just like the complex Iran-Contra affair and the collapse of the junk bond market in the 80s that left thousands in financial ruin during a previous Republican presidency, I’ll wager Enron will be a footnote to the Bush Jr. era.

It’s mind-boggling how a blow job in the White House can shake America down to its democratic core, but a tale of gross corporate mismanagement and unchecked campaign spending barely registers beyond the chattering classes.

Who knows what will ultimately come out of the Enron fiasco? But I seriously doubt that it will involve a presidential impeachment vote.

I’ll admit, even though I actually get off on poring through campaign financial disclosures, that I still tend to glaze over when folks like Democracy Watch send me their latest notice on money-for-political-favours out of Ottawa. (Sorry, please keep sending them.)

I know I should care. I know I should whip up some righteous indignation when the regulated telephone giant pays for the prime minister’s round of golf with Tiger Woods.

But let’s face it — unless a telephone company executive or a PGA pro strokes Chretien at 24 Sussex, it’s not going to resonate with John Q. Public. Corporate mismanagement and political favours? Big deal. What else you got?

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