“America’s Most Popular Populist,” Jim Hightower, Raises Hell About Bush, Enron and Corporate Power

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Enron’s lead investigator testified yesterday that former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay told investigators that heshould have paid more attention to his company’s bookkeeping but felt “betrayed” by others at the company who keptinformation from him. In four hours of interviews with the special board committee investigating the company’scollapse, Lay indicated that he knew the company was using Enron stock to protect investors in its off-the-bookspartnerships. That unusual strategy helped Enron hide large debts and losses.

Yesterday President Bush rejected a call by Senator Ernest Hollings for a special prosecutor to investigate Enron,saying his Justice Department could do the job. Enron was a major contributor to the Bush presidential campaign andhas ties to a number of administration officials. In the wake of Enron’s collapse and the disclosure of the company’spolitical contributions and close ties to prominent government officials, many reports have been focused on theprospect of untoward — or even illegal — behavior on the part of elected officials. Many are calling forofficeholders to return Enron contributions, and some officials have already done so.

Meanwhile yesterday, War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to approve the largestproposed increase in defense spending since the Reagan administration and heard not a word of protest from Democratsor Republicans. Rumsfeld said the budget proposal is designed to accomplish three main goals: winning the so-called”war on terrorism,” modernizing the military, and modernizing a small but significant part of the armed forces tocounter new threats, from cyberwarfare to chemical, biological and nuclear attacks. Concerns about homeland securitypermeate virtually every facet of proposed federal spending as the Bush administration moves to redefine thegovernment’s mission in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Today we are joined by one of the country’s greatest muckrakers, a native Texan. He is known as “America’s mostpopular populist,” to talk about Bush, Enron and corporate power.


  • Jim Hightower, writer, radio commentator, public speaker, and author of ??If the Gods had Meant us toVote They Would Have Given us Candidates. Hightower publishes a monthly populist political newsletter, “TheHightower Lowdown,” which recently received the Alternative Press Award for best national newsletter. He is also theauthor of ??There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos; ??Eat your HeartOut; and ??Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times.

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