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2002-02-18

"The Best Democracy Money Can Buy": A Look at Enron, Argentina, and George Bush’s Theft Of The 2000 Presidential Elections with Investigative Journalist Greg Palast

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The taint of the Enron scandal keeps spreading, implicating an ever-wider array of Washington politicos. Among the latest to fall within its shadow are Army Secretary Thomas White and former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed. According to today’s Washington Post, Reed sent a memo to Enron just weeks before the 2000 Presidential Election in which he offered to help the company deregulate the electricity industry by working his "good friends" in Washington. At the time, Reed was serving as a campaign adviser to Bush.

For a hefty 6-figure fee, the conservative political strategist proposed a broad lobbying strategy that included using major campaign contributors, conservative talk shows and, yes, Washington connections. As Reed explained in his memo to Enron: "In public policy, it matters less who has the best arguments and more who gets heard–and bywhom."

The memo offers a glimpse into the relationship between Enron and the ultra-conservative, who was first recommendedto the company in 1997 by Karl Rove, now a senior adviser to President Bush. Enlisting Reed’s aid would have been in character with Enron’s strategy of aligning itself with high-visibility political figures and pundits. Others who have accepted pay from Enron for their advice and other help include Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey,Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, economist Paul Krugman, CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, and incoming Republican National Committee chairman Marc Racicot.

Well, we are going to turn now to investigative reporter Greg Palast, who has been examining Enron’s influence-peddling for years. The British tabloid the Mirror calls him "The Liar" and British Prime Minister Tony Blair says his reports contain "Not one shred of evidence." Palast’s undercover investigations of corruption within the Blair Government for Britain’s Observer have made him "New Labour’s Public Enemy Number One." He was named the BBC’s Guerilla News Networks Reporter of the Year this year for his work on the World Bank and the IMF. Well, I spoke to Greg Palast two weeks ago, just days after a scathing report was released placing the blame for Enron’s collapse directly on top executives like Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. During our conversation, we also spoke of Argentina and the stealing of the 2000 Election. But first, here’s what Greg Palast had to say about Enron.

Guest:

  • Greg Palast, investigative reporter who writes for the BBC, the British Guardian and the British_Observer_. His latest book is ??The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

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