- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Enron and Kyoto
Enron was a leading supporter of the Kyoto global warming treaty, but that did not deter the Bush administration from dumping the pact, writes conservative activist Cliff Kincaid, president of America's Survival Inc.
"Enron was a big backer of the treaty, also called the Kyoto Protocol, and yet Bush has abandoned it because of questions about the science behind the theory and the cost," Mr. Kincaid said in a prepared statement.
"So it turns out that the company we are led to believe was exercising influence over the Bush administration through campaign contributions doesn't have any influence at all on this issue. This fact makes a mockery of implications that Bush did the bidding of Enron.
"Enron became a member of the International Climate Change Partnership and the Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council. These companies bowed to environmental demands to endorse the treaty. Enron, a politically correct company that invested in solar and wind power boondoggles, was also involved in a United Nations conference to develop Communist China's coal resources," Mr. Kincaid said, citing an April 23 Business Week article.
Mr. Kincaid also cited a Sunday article in The Washington Post, which "described some of Enron's lobbying on behalf of the treaty," including a meeting that Enron Chairman Kenneth L. Lay had with President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore in which Mr. Lay advocated a "market-based" approach to the problem of global warming. This was a strategy identified in an Enron memo as "good for Enron stock."
The newspaper added that Enron officials were elated with the Kyoto Protocol and said it would "do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries."

No whiff of scandal
"Even a liberal is baffled by how the media can justify turning Enron into a Bush political scandal," the Media Research Center's Brent Baker writes.
"MSNBC analyst Lawrence O'Donnell, a former aide to Democratic senators, declared on 'The McLaughlin Group' over the weekend: 'It is a business scandal story. There is absolutely not even a whiff of political scandal in this thing so far. And it's really funny to watch the Washington press corps try to manufacture it.'
"The media viewpoint bewildered O'Donnell: 'Let's get it straight. The big, big contributor to the Bush campaign, goes to the Bush administration and says, "Please help us," and the Bush administration says "no." The scandal is going to have be explained to me.'
"Newsweek's Eleanor Clift tried to convince O'Donnell: 'You get Ken Lay, the CEO, calling the Treasury secretary and the Commerce secretary, and they don't pass that information on to anyone, when if they advised someone maybe a lot of people could have saved their holdings.'
"Of course, Enron's stock fell steadily throughout 2001 amidst news stories about troubles at the company, so investors were not totally in the dark," Mr. Baker pointed out.

Where's the scandal?
The Bush administration refused to intervene on behalf of the Enron Corporation even after former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin phoned his old department to seek a bailout, New York Times columnist William Safire notes.
Mr. Rubin, a star in the Clinton administration, now is a top boss at Citibank, which is owed $800 million by Enron.
"As a card-carrying scandalmonger, I am moved to ask: Where's the [Bush] scandal?" Mr. Safire asked.
"Democratic Representative Henry Waxman, after eight years with his eyes tightly shut, apparently thinks it scandalous that Bush's men at the first call from [Enron Chairman Kenneth L.] Lay did not promptly step in to save the company from the consequences of the greed or predations of its managers. Bush is thus damned for what he did not do.
"But at the same time, other scandalmongers are damning Bush for what he may possibly have done such as getting briefed by anybody on his staff and thereby 'knowing,' or by having taken political contributions from today's villain back when Lay was a Houston hero.
"But based on what we now know, it's not a political scandal. Bush's people, including former employees or consultants of Enron, did right by refusing to bail a campaign contributor out of its mess at public expense or by misleading investors. Taxpayers should be grateful."

A free pass
"Reporters rustling furiously through the story of Enron's demise in search of a political scandal seem determined not to find one in former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's Nov. 8 phone call to Treasury Undersecretary Peter Fisher," Timothy Noah writes in the "Chatterbox" column at www.slate.msn.com.
"Rubin asked Fisher, a fellow Democrat, what he thought about having Treasury intervene to avoid a downgrading of Enron's debt rating. Rubin is chairman of the executive committee at Citigroup, which happens to be one of Enron's biggest creditors. Because Fisher told Rubin he thought Treasury intervention a bad idea, the media herd concluded that you couldn't nail the Bush administration for any ethical infractions and moved on. But wait! What about impropriety on behalf of a former member of the Clinton administration? Rubin was trying to use his access to the Treasury Department to bring financial benefit to his employer, and, thereby, himself. Isn't that unethical?" Mr. Noah asked.
"You wouldn't get that impression from the coverage.
"Why is Rubin getting a free pass? Apparently because he's put out the word, through an anonymous intermediary, that he prefaced his remarks to Fisher by saying, 'This is probably not a good idea.' He was just thinking out loud! But of course, if Rubin really thought it was a bad idea, why was he calling a Treasury official in the first place? In fact, self-effacement can be an excellent strategy for manipulation and/or self-protection. Chatterbox would guess that at least 60 percent of all adulteries begin with somebody saying, 'This is probably not a good idea, but why don't we rent a hotel room?'"

Bush's opportunity
"Now and again a bounce in the political seismograph suggests someone has said something useful," Wall Street Journal editor Robert L. Bartley writes.
"Vice President Cheney's remark that 'conservation may be a sign of personal virtue,' for example, raised hackles precisely because it exposes the secret core of the environmentalist worldview. Budget Director Mitch Daniels almost got himself excommunicated by Congress with the remark that its war motto was 'Don't just stand there, spend something.' As always, it is the truth that makes a political flap," Mr. Bartley said.
"The conventional political wisdom, of course, is that to avoid flaps you avoid unpleasant truths. But in the wake of September 11, it seems to me, the public is reassessing what kind of leadership it wants. The heroes of the moment are President Bush, [Defense] Secretary [Donald H.] Rumsfeld, Rudy Giuliani, 'redneck' policemen and firemen, the Delta Force, etc. This is quite a different crew from the arbiters of political correctness, long accustomed to having their prejudices taken as moral writ in this society, or at least in the media.
"President Bush's era-making opportunity lies precisely in having a few well-chosen flaps to clarify his own moral authority and that of similarly hardheaded men and women. This is how three generations ago Franklin D. Roosevelt established a political era that still casts a lingering if fading shadow today. He did not genuflect to the previous moral authority of the business elite; instead, fairly or not, he assaulted 'the Ishmaels and the Insulls, whose hand is against every man's.' Business remains a tainted class today, while the degenerate remnants of the FDR 'brain trust' still believe they wield an authority most of society would today never grant them."


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