Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Governors Gone Wild
Imagine this as a screenplay. Right before Christmas, a factory in Chicago gets their credit cut off by a greedy banker, played, of course, by Michael Douglas, and the company fires the entire workforce without even the benefits they have worked to earn. The workers, led by John Leguizamo and Jamie Lee Curtis, urge their companions to protest and, just like Rosa Parks, they finally get tired and decide to sit down. They believe they're going to jail, but the sympathetic police captain, Morgan Freeman, who used to be a working stiff, is hesitant to arrest anyone so close to Christmas. Two days later, the factory is surrounded by media and supporters and even the newly elected President, Denzel Washington, voices his support. But here's where the plot gets tricky. The workers' sit-in gets so much attention that the Governor, already under investigation, decides to get involved.
The arrogant Governor of Illinois, played by Alec Baldwin because of the hair and the temperament, comes to the workers' aid and puts pressure on the mega-bank, in this case we'll call it the Bank of America, to come off of some of the $25 Billion they've just been given by the government, to help out the working man. This makes the CEO of BoA, Kevin Spacey, worried about company image and his pension, and the Board goes into conference to consider the Governor's threats to cut off all state business with the bank. The next morning, the Governor's threats look like extortion as he is hooked up and carried away by the FBI who have been listening to his conversations, just as he invited them to do. Gary Hart appears here as himself. They even hear his greedy wife screaming in the background about appointed jobs and lucrative positions. I know it sounds impractical, but I really believe Kim Basinger could give an Oscar turn in this role. But just as things look grimmest for the factory workers, and they watch as their main supporter does a perp-walk, the bank decides it's Christmas time and peels off a few singles from their wad of billions and gives it to the company owners, Ben Kingsley and Judd Hirsch. I haven't decided yet if the bosses will give the money to the workers, or buy them each a Christmas turkey and kick them out the door.
Cut to a dimly lit office with a smiling President Denzel sitting with his Chief of Staff, portrayed by Hugh Laurie. They are both Chicago politicians and should be concerned that the Governor's arrest will rain on their inaugural parade, but they are chuckling. A recording just turned up where the Governor referred to his former colleague, the President-elect, as a "motherfucker" who would not give him what he wanted, and a no-nonsense Special Prosecutor, Nick Nolte, holds a press conference shredding the disgraced Governor's reputation and exonerating the new President. But here's the kicker. It turns out that the old bareknuckled Chicago poll, the President's Chief of Staff, was the one that blew the whistle on the Illinois Governor in the first place to protect his new boss. The two men clink snifters of cognac before a roaring fire while a montage shows all the factory workers' kids getting just what they wanted for Christmas and the company owners basking in the warmth of their generosity. As Sonny Corleone said to Michael just before he shot the police captain, "Yeah, they just might like a story like that."
Governor Rod Blagojevich, if not ending the Obama honeymoon, at least flushed the toilet while the Love Train was still in the station. He proves that greed, arrogance, and idiocy know no party, yet he is in a class all by himself for naked corruption. I had just written about former Tenn. Governor Ray Blanton and his pardon-selling scandal when Blagojevich goes and puts Obama's former Senate seat on eBay. Tennessee has had corrupt officials, but we only put them in jail one at a time. If, wait-who am I fooling, when Governor Blagojevich is sentenced, he can do time with Illinois' former Governor Ryan, a Republican. In fact, justice would dictate that they be cell mates, with conjugal visits from Bubba and Eugene. This blatant contempt for basic honesty may not taint Obama, but it certainly embarrasses him at an inopportune time, and gives ammunition to his enemies when his concentration needs to be elsewhere. If Blagojevich had a shred of decency, which is questionable, he would take the Elliot Spitzer route; apologize profusely, resign, and disappear. Or as they say in Texas, make like horseshit and hit the old, dusty, trail. The sooner the better.