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Friday, February 03, 2006

ENRON TRIAL - DAY 3

As Dan Whitcombe reports for Reuters, prosecutors in the trial against former Enron CEOs Ken lay and Jeffrey Skilling have used their first witness to paint a picture of lies and deceit by the men to cover up the company's shaky finances.

The witness, Mark Koenig, was Enron's chief of investor relations, putting him in position to witness at least two efforts by Lay and Skilling to artificially raise the company's earnings to meet or beat Wall Street's expectations so that the stock price would rise.

Koenig is one of 16 former Enron employees and execs to plead guilty to actions taken during their stint at Enron. Lay and Skilling have, of course, high-priced lawyers which will do every high-priced lawyer trick in the book, including going after Koenig's credibility. Regardless, the consensus among legal observers is that the first week went passably well for the prosecution. Defense lawyers will cross-examine Koenig starting next week.

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House GOP Chooses Rep. John "Any Port in a Storm" Boehner as New Majority Leader

As Larry Margasak and Sharon Theimer reoport for the Associated Press, House Republicans voted Thursday for a new Majority Leader to replace Tom DeLay, who stepped down last year due to both fallout from his indictment for violating Texas campign laws and to his close relationship with the scandalous corruption monger Jack Abramoff.

And the winner was . . (drum roll) . . John Boehner!! That's right, THE John Boehner, representative from Ohio, the man who got in hot water for passing out campaign checks from tobacco companies to members on the floor of the House of Representatives prior to a vote.

Any port in a storm, I guess.

The race was largely between Boehner and Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, who had served as DeLay's stand-in for the last several months and was widely seen as DeLay's protege and the inheritor of DeLay's legacy. Both Blunt and Boehner followed in Tommy "the Hitman" DeLay's footsteps, using leadership PACs to rake in tons of corporate dough to mete out to impoverished GOP campaigners to build up loyalty and power.

In the aftermath of the Duke Cunningham and Abramoff scandals, both parties have been jockeying to claim the title of the Party of Reform. In one recent crucial move to appease the American public, it was agreed that former members of the House could no longer use the members' gym. Hopefully they take on the pivotal issue of lobbyists using the House drinking fountains next.

While the parties posture, neither has done much beyond diddly squat to address the real problem in Washington D.C.: big money's role in elections has put people in office that care more about themselves or the wealthy interests in this country than they do about their constituents.

Until we get some action on that score, both parties can shuffle corruption clones in and out of leadership positions all they want. It still won't do a cotton-pickin' thing to shift power from the corruption-riddled backrooms of the Beltway to the living rooms of the rest of America, where the power and strength of our democracy belongs.

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