- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2002

So far, the Dec. 2 Enron bankruptcy debacle has failed to produce a shred of evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of anyone in the Bush administration. Every revelation involving contacts between senior Bush administration officials and Enron executives confirms that nothing zero, zilch, nada was done either to prevent the collapse or cushion the plunge.
In fact, all the available evidence suggesting that favors were exchanged for Enron campaign contributions implicates the Clinton administration. In 1995, a $100,000 check from Enron to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) seemed to purchase some highly coveted seats for Enron executives on an overseas trade mission led by then-Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor. Earlier, Enron Chairman Ken Lay accompanied the previous commerce secretary, Ron Brown, to India. Mr. Clinton instructed his chief of staff, Mack McLarty, to help Enron obtain a contract to build a power plant in India, for which the firm received $398 million in U.S. taxpayer assistance. In 1996, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rulings favorable to Enron coincided with another $100,000 contribution from Enron to the DNC.
What did Enron receive from the Bush administration? Well, it seems that Enron distinguished itself as the biggest victim of President Bush's first outright reversal of a campaign pledge: On March 13, 2001, Mr. Bush, citing the nation's short- and long-term energy problems, changed his mind on a campaign promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Enron had hoped to get fabulously rich trading carbon-dioxide credits, which the Clinton administration had intended to create as part of the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. Two weeks after Mr. Bush deep-sixed limits on CO2 emissions, his administration poured salt into Enron's wounds by formally junking the Kyoto treaty, which Enron had embraced with gusto. According to an internal Enron memo, the Kyoto Protocol would "do more to promote Enron's business" including its substantial interests in natural gas pipelines "than almost any other regulatory initiative." Ouch.
Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking member of the House Government Reform Committee and California Democrat, has been incessantly whining about any influence Enron may have wielded on the Bush administration's National Energy Policy Development Group, headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. What ostensibly concerns Mr. Waxman is the fact that Mr. Cheney had a half-hour meeting with Mr. Lay last year and that the vice president's aides met five times with Enron representatives. As it happens, Mr. Lay repeatedly met with Clinton energy-policy officials, including Mr. Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Energy Secretary Federico Pena. According to an Enron memo, Mr. Pena requested comments from Enron officials regarding the Clinton adminstration's Comprehensive National Energy Strategy. Mr. Pena even told his Enron pals to keep his staff informed about congressional developments in energy policy.
Compared to the extensive financial help the Clinton-Gore adminstration bestowed upon Enron following the firm's soft-money donations, the Bush administration simply stood aside as Enron's house of cards collapsed, letting the unforgiving forces of capitalism take their toll.

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