George W. in the Garden of Gethsemane
This letter was originally published on January 29, 2002 at www.michaelmoore.com
An Open Letter to George W. Bush
When it's all over in a couple months, and you're packing up your pretzels and Spot and heading back to Texas, what will be your biggest regret? Not getting out more often and seeing the sights around Rock Creek Park? Never once visiting the newly-renovated IKEA in Woodbridge, Virginia? Or buying your way to the White House with money from a company that committed the biggest corporate swindle in American history? I got a feeling you didn't miss much by not spending an entire Saturday afternoon assembling a Swedish bookcase--but you should have known that there was no way you would ever finish your term by hopping into bed with Kenneth Lay.
It's kind of sad when you think about it. Here you were-the most popular president ever!--the recipient of so much good will from your fellow Americans after September 11, and then you had to go and blow it. You just couldn't stay away from your old cowpoke friend from Texas, Kenneth Lay. Kenny has always been there for you. You needed a way to fly around to all the primaries and campaign stops in the 2000 election--so Kenny gave you his corporate jet. Did you tell the voters when you arrived in each city that the bird you flew in on was from a billionaire who was secretly conspiring to give the bird to all his employees and investors? He flew you around America on the Enron company jet, and for that favor you touched down on tarmac after tarmac to tell your fellow citizens that you were "going to restore dignity to the White House, the people's house."
You said this standing in front of an Enron jet! Man, you loved Lay so much, you not only affectionately referred to him as "Kenny Boy," you interrupted an important campaign trip in April 2000, to fly back to Houston for the Astros' opening day at the new Enron Field--just so you could watch Kenny Boy Lay throw out the first pitch. How sentimental! I mean, you loved this man so intensely that, when you were awarded a set of keys the Supreme Court had made for you so you could live in the White House, you invited Kenny Boy to set up shop--at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! He interviewed those who would hold high-level Energy Department positions in your administration. You not only let Kenny Boy decide who would head the regulatory agency that oversaw Enron, you let him hand-pick the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission--a former lawyer for his accountant, Arthur Andersen!
Kenny and the boys at Andersen also worked to make sure that accounting firms would be exempt from numerous regulations and would not be held liable for any "funny bookkeeping" (don't you wish you were this forward-thinking?). Then the rest of Kenny Boy's time was spent next door with his old buddy, Dick Cheney (Enron and Halliburton, as you'll recall, got the big contracts from your dad to "rebuild" Kuwait after the Gulf War). Lay and Dick formed an "energy task force" (Operation Enduring Graft) which put together the county's new "energy policy." This policy then went on to shut down every light bulb and juicer in the state of California. And guess who made out like bandits while "trading" the energy California was in desperate need of? Kenny Boy and Enron! No wonder Big Dick doesn't want to turn over the files about those special meetings with Lay!
The only thing that surprises me more than all the Enron henchmen who ended up in your cabinet and administration is how our lazy media just rolled over and didn't report it. The list of Enron people on your payroll is impressive. Lawrence Lindsey, your chief economic advisor? A former advisor at Enron! Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill? Former CEO of Alcoa, whose lobbying firm, Vinson and Elkins, was the #3 contributor to your campaign! Who is Vinson and Elkins? The law firm representing Enron! Who is Alcoa? The top polluter in Texas. Timothy White, the Secretary of the Army? A former vice-chair of Enron Energy! Robert Zoellick, your Federal Trade Representative? A former advisor at Enron! Karl Rove, your main man at the White House? He owned a quarter-million dollars of Enron stock. Then there's the Enron lawyer you have nominated to be a federal judge in Texas, the Enron lobbyist who is your chair of the Republican Party, the two Enron officials who now work for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and the wife of Texas Senator Phil Gramm who sits on Enron's board. And there's the aforementioned Mr. Pitt, the former Arthur Andersen attorney whose job it is now as SEC head to oversee the stock markets. George, it never stops! My fingers are getting tired typing all this up--and there's lots more.
Don't get me wrong, George--I do not think you're an evil man. You don't need any crap from people like me--heck, you got mother-in-law problems! Now, I have a very good relationship with my mother-in-law, but then, I never told her to put $8,000 of her money into a company my administration knew was going belly-up. You say you didn't know? Your bag man--Don Evans, the man who squeezed all that money for you from Enron as your campaign finance chairman (and is now collecting his reward as your Commerce Secretary)--has admitted that he got calls from Enron begging for help last year because they were going under. Didn't he tell you this? Then Paul O'Neill, your Treasury Secretary, admitted that Enron and Kenny Boy called him, too, for some special favors to save Enron. Didn't he mention this to you? They claim to have called your chief of staff, Andrew Card, and he said he didn't bother to inform you. What does your mother-in-law think about these boys her daughter's husband consorts with?
I love watching the O'Neill and Evans show. What a couple of cut-ups! They're, like, all proud of themselves for "not doing Enron any favors." Actually, I think it's more like they didn't do your MOTHER-IN-LAW any favors. Enron got LOTS of favors. And why not? Kenny Boy has been your number one financial backer since you ran for governor. No other American or Saudi has given you more money than Kenny Boy and his gang at Enron. O'Neill, Evans, Cheney, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham--ALL of them gave Lay and Enron special favors from day one. The New York Times last May was so concerned about how Kenny had the run of the place (1600 Pennsylvania Ave.), they referred to Lay as the "shadow advisor to the president." And what advice! Who was it that wanted you to deregulate the energy industry further? Kenny Boy! Who was it that convinced you to explore the sick idea of PRIVATIZING our water supply and then allow private corporations to "trade" it in the future? Kenny Boy! Who was it that wanted Social Security to be tied to the stock market? Yup, Kenny Boy! (Imagine, if you will, what would have happened to our precious Social Security funds had they been invested in Enron stocks as you, George, suggested be done during your campaign as yuppies everywhere clucked along in agreement over that genius idea.)
O'Neill's and Evans's admission that they "did nothing" when Enron told them of the company's shell game and impending collapse is reason enough for you and yours to hit the Beltway and never return to that sacred trust we call Our American Government. They are proud of "doing nothing?" By doing nothing, millions of Americans have been swindled. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs. Thousands more have lost their savings and their retirement. Yet your cabinet secretaries gloat over what a "good job" you and they did by "doing nothing." Let me ask you this: If someone was setting a house on fire, and they called you to help them set it on fire, and you said no you wouldn't help them--BUT then you also DIDN'T call 911 and inform the police that someone was going to burn down a house, do you think you would have committed a crime? Of course you would have! You had prior knowledge and then you knowingly and purposefully HID this information from the authorities and the people living in the house! You only admitted that you knew a house was going to be torched when you were confronted by the police. Are you complicit? Yes! Are you an accessory? Yes! Who would even think of going around boasting, "Hey, look what a great guy I am--a friend of mine told me he was going to commit an act of arson, and then I decided NOT to tell ANYONE about it!! WHOO-HOO!!"
Enron and Kenny Boy bought your silence and the silence of your cabinet members. You yourself didn't have to actually raid the 401(k) accounts of those poor people in Houston (many of whom probably voted for you every time your name was on a ballot). All you had to do was remain silent, change the government regulations that let them get away with it, and install their hand-picked cronies to sit on the "oversight" boards which were supposed to be keeping an eye on them. While doing all this, you told the American people that these rich friends of yours were not getting any special breaks--when, in fact, Enron had already scammed their way out of paying ANY taxes in four out of the last five years. Your economic "stimulus" bill that you got the House to pass after 9/11 had a section that would give Enron a gift of $250 million of our tax money. You were pushing this bill in November and December, long after your administration knew that Enron was raiding the vault and screwing its workers and investors.
You and your Republican friends are quick to point out that Enron had their claws into the Democrats as well. Yes, they did, and thank you for making the case why we not only need an alternative to the current make-up of the Democratic Party, we need private money removed from our electoral process ASAP.
But, George, let's be real--the Democrats only got a pittance from Enron compared to the millions you and the Republicans received. Democrats just don't have the killer instinct to do anything right, and they certainly don't know much about making money the old-fashioned way, one off-shore tax shelter at a time. I would expect nothing less from a Party that couldn't even put their candidate in the White House after he had already won the election. The Democrats are like a Yugo--you know it won't last long or work well, but it will occasionally get the job done. Fat cats know they can buy the Democrats at discount prices, and so they do. Anyone who tries to deflect this scandal away from you, George, or away from the Republicans, or away from the whole dirty way we elect our leaders, is someone who is desperately trying to cling to what's left of a very crooked system that has to go and go now.
The saddest part of this whole affair was the day the scandal was revealed--and you denied that you even knew your good friend, Kenneth Lay. "Ken who?" you said. Oh, he's just some businessman from Texas. "Heck, he backed my opponent for governor, Ann Richards!" was your way of trying to deflect the truth that was hitting you like a Mack truck. You knew that he, in fact, endorsed YOU and gave you THREE times the money Ann Richards ever saw from him. I hardly ever talk to the guy, you said. You were like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, denying he knew Jesus, three times. And then the cock crowed. And Peter felt shame and ran away. What shame do you feel tonight, George, for the lies you have told? What shame do you feel using the dead of 9/11 as a cover for your actions, hoping that our sorrow for those lost souls and our fear of being killed by terrorists would distract us from what your boys and Kenny Boy were up to during those horrific weeks in September and October?
It was during those very days, while the rest of us were in shock and sadness, that the executives at Enron were selling off their stock and shifting assets to their 900 phony partnerships overseas. Did they notice the remains of the dead being pulled from the rubble while they were downloading their millions, or were their eyes glued only to the bottom third of the TV screen as the stock ticker with the rigged Enron price crawled across the images of firemen desperate, in tears, to find their fallen brothers? The country was behind you when you said you were fighting the evildoers who did this. In fact, all the while, the real fight your friends at Enron were conducting was the fight against the clock, to see how fast they could transfer all the loot to their personal accounts and run away. Those were the evildoers, George, and you knew it. And because you, by design or negligence, allowed this to happen, it is time for you to resign. The cock has crowed for the last time. At the very least, your mother-in-law deserves better. Yours,
Owner of 7th LARGEST COMPANY IN AMERICA! (revised ranking)