Who Killed Enron?

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Who Killed Enron?

It’s the scariest type of scandal: a total system failure. Executives, lenders, auditors and regulators all managed to look the other way while the company ran amok

By Allan Sloan

Jan. 21 issue — Enron was supposed to be the next new thing, a New Economy company with substance to it. Unlike flaky Internet start-ups that substituted ethereal yardsticks like “eyeballs” and “stickiness” for revenues and profits, Enron had real businesses, real assets, real revenues and what seemed to be real profits. It owned natural-gas pipelines and electricity-generating plants and water companies. Not only would it do well, it would improve the planet by substituting the efficient hand of the market for the clumsy hand of government regulation.

From humble beginnings as a natural-gas company, Enron rose in a mere 15 years to No. 7 on the Fortune 500, doing $100 billion of business in 2000. Along the way, Enron became one of America’s most admired companies, and a perennial favorite on “best places to work” lists. The guys running the show were hailed as magicians with newfound secrets that would change the future of business.

But Enron turned out to be another bubble. Unlike a Pets.com or a Webvan, whose implosions did little damage outside of costing dice-rolling speculators some money and techies some jobs, the Enron bubble exploded like a grenade. Today Enron is a smoking ruin, the biggest corporate bankruptcy in American history. A year ago the stock market valued Enron at more than $60 billion. Its stock has since lost 99 percent of its value—and still seems overpriced. Stockholders and lenders are out tens of billions of dollars. Many of Enron’s 20,000 employees lost their retirement savings when the company collapsed. About 5,000 of them, from computer jocks in Houston to newsprint recyclers in New Jersey, lost their jobs, too. By contrast, chairman Ken Lay made $205 million in stock-option profits in the past four years alone, and other big hitters and board members made out, too. What’s especially galling is that a handful of executives and outsiders made millions by investing in off-balance-sheet deals with Enron that played a large role in destroying the company.


The collateral damage keeps spreading.
Prominent among the wounded is Arthur Andersen, Enron’s outside auditor, which admitted last week that some employees destroyed documents.
Andersen’s reputation has been tarnished to the point that the Big Five accounting firms might shrink to the Big Four.
Wall Street’s credibility has been shattered. Utilities deregulation, for which Enron was the poster boy, is now on the back burner. The spectacle of impoverished, unemployed Enronites has thrown a harsh spotlight on the risks of 401(k) accounts stuffed with company stock.
Confidence in financial markets has been shaken—and rightly so. With the action in Afghanistan slowing down, Enron shock waves have finally reached Washington, raising the specter of another ‘Gate. L’affaire Enron is becoming a classic Washington scandal: criminal probes, investigations of destroyed documents, pols being asked what they knew about Enron and when they knew it. There’s no sex, alas—but there sure is lots of money.

Life would be simple if we could blame the whole thing on Enron chairman Lay. Or on George W. Bush, who goes way back with Lay, among the biggest individual contributors to Bush’s presidential and Texas gubernatorial campaigns. But Enron isn’t that simple. It’s something far more scary: a wholesale systemic failure. The multilayered system of checks and balances that is supposed to keep a company from running amok completely broke down. Executives of public companies have legal and moral responsibilities to produce honest books and records—but at Enron, they didn’t do that. Outside auditors are supposed to make sure that a company’s financial reports not only meet the letter of accounting rules but also give investors and lenders a fair and accurate picture of what’s going on—but Arthur Andersen failed that test. To protect themselves, lenders are supposed to make sure borrowers are creditworthy—but Enron’s lenders were as clueless as everyone else. Wall Street analysts are supposed to dig through company numbers to divine what’s really happening—but almost none of them managed to do that. Regulators didn’t regulate. Enron’s board of directors didn’t direct.

Why did all these people look the other way for so long? Money talks. Or, with Enron, shouts. The company put lots of money in pockets of the people and institutions that were supposed to police it. Enron’s incessant dealmaking generated huge fees for Wall Street investment banking houses. And guess what? Wall Street loved Enron, with most analysts rating its stock and bonds as the greatest thing since money was invented, at least until they finally heard Enron’s death rattle. Even when it became clear last fall that Enron was engaging in creative bookkeeping, almost no analysts recommended selling the stock, says Chuck Hill, who tracks analyst recommendations for First Call/Thompson Financial. “They should have thrown in the towel a lot earlier,” he said. Enron paid huge fees—$52 million in 2000—to Arthur Andersen for auditing and consulting services. Andersen allowed it to get away with accounting that was, at best, aggressive and, at worst, criminal. If Andersen had stood on principle, Enron would doubtless have changed accountants. Enron famously made heavy political contributions. Pols got peanuts compared with what Wall Street and Andersen got, but it was enough to help Enron run roughshod over regulators at the national and state levels.


With so many dollar signs floating around and the company’s stock soaring, no one was interested in bad news—a problem that’s hardly limited to Enron. “A lot of people don’t want to hear the straight truth,” says Thomas Donaldson, a business-ethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “Investors don’t want the CEO to say something negative that will drop the stock, even for the short term. There’s a culture of puffery, a culture of winking.” The winking stopped last year when regulators and the financial markets finally reined in Enron—at least five years after its big-time financial shenanigans had begun.

Enron started out innocently enough, born of a mildly innovative 1985 deal to combine two boring businesses: an Omaha-based natural-gas-pipeline company called InterNorth and a Texas pipeline company called Houston Natural Gas. Ken Lay, a soft-spoken statesman kind of guy with a Ph.D. in economics, found a hyperaggressive financial whiz named Jeff Skilling working in McKinsey & Co.’s energy practice in Houston. They had a brilliant insight. Instead of just delivering gas to customers at a modest profit, Enron could use newly deregulated pipelines to match buyers and sellers. In other words, Enron became a gas trader, as well as a gas company. Because trading was much more fun and much more lucrative than building pipes and drilling wells and selling gas at regulated, low-profit prices, Enron morphed into a trading company with a utility attached to it.

And make no mistake, these guys were deregulation’s True Believers. At a dinner I had with Skilling in the late 1990s, he was like a religious zealot who couldn’t stop repeating his favorite mantra as the solution to all the world’s problems. There are rolling blackouts in the Midwest? Deregulate. Some energy companies look like they’re price gouging? Deregulate more. And if salad dressing had dripped onto my tie? ... You get the picture.


With Lay and Skilling in charge, Enron’s revenues and profits climbed sharply. People from all over the country clamored to join Enron and its crusade. TV monitors in the Enron Building in downtown Houston displayed the stock price. Employees could get pumped up by inspirational elevator messages on the way to work. In the best dot-com tradition, employees were treated to subsidized Starbucks, an on-site gym and lavish company outings. Enron wasn’t just a business, it was a lifestyle that rewarded foam-mouthed aggression. “There’s nothing wrong with ambition, but there was simply a warped culture at the top,” says John Allario, 38, who worked six years in Enron’s business-development department before losing his job in the collapse. “They wanted to climb to the top of the mountain and pound their chest and crush anyone or anything that got in the way.”

The most important measure of Enron’s growth was its rising stock price. It was the oil that made the Enron machine run smoothly. After faltering in 1997, Enron shares went on a run in late 1998, doubling, then doubling again. Enron stock options were making employees rich and helped the company attract the best and brightest. Not wanting to miss out on a sure thing, Enronites stuffed company shares into their 401(k) plans. The company required most employees to have a chunk of their 401(k)s in Enron stock—but many employees had far more stock than Enron required, and far less in diversified investments, such as mutual funds.

But what made Enron successful—innovation and daring—got the company into trouble when it decided in its arrogance that it could “financialize” almost anything. Rather than sticking to natural gas and electricity, which it understood, Enron in the mid- and late-’90s branched into whatever struck its fancy: water, coal, fiber-optic capacity, weather derivatives (whatever those are) and newsprint. It bought and sold properties, and traded up a storm. But many of its businesses tied up lots of capital while earning very little or running in the red. In the late 1990s, by my count, Enron lost about $2 billion on telecom capacity, $2 billion in water investments, $2 billion in a Brazilian utility and $1 billion on a controversial electricity plant in India. Enron’s debt was soaring. If these harsh truths became obvious to outsiders, Enron’s stock price would get clobbered—and a rising stock price was the company’s be-all and end-all. Worse, what few people knew was that Enron had engaged in billions of dollars of off-balance-sheet deals that would come back to haunt the company if its stock price fell.


And it was in those too-clever-by-half financial structures that Enron sowed the seeds of its undoing. Before we proceed to the story of Enron’s final days, let’s get out our trusty lightsabers and take an accounting trip, one made more lively by some Enron financial techie’s fondness for “Star Wars.”

Our case involves something called JEDI, as in Jedi knight. JEDI stands for Joint Energy Development Investments, which was an investment partnership between Enron and the California Public Employees Retirement System, known as Calpers. Enron and Calpers invested $250 million each into the partnership in 1993. JEDI prospered—the Force must have been with it—as Enron deftly bought and sold energy stocks, power plants and other investments, earning a 23 percent annual return for Calpers. Very nice. So Calpers welcomed Enron’s offer in late 1997 to do a sequel. They ramped up JEDI II, with each side putting up $500 million. But first, Calpers wanted to cash in its JEDI I stake, worth $383 million. Enron obliged. Instead of liquidating the partnership, Enron went looking for someone to ante up $383 million to take Calpers’s place. That would keep JEDI I off Enron’s balance sheet and its profit-and-loss statement. Making JEDI I part of Enron would have cut the company’s reported profits sharply, and increased its reported debt by more than $500 million.

To solve this problem, Enron ginned up Chewco Investments—as in Chewbacca the Wookiee. Chewco was a partnership of Enron executives and some undisclosed outsiders. Chewco didn’t have $383 million sitting around. So Enron lent it $132 million and guaranteed a $240 million loan. This left about $11.5 million for Chewco to come up with. Not a whole lot, given the size of the deal. But $11.5 million was an important number. Why? Because it was more than 3 percent of Chewco’s capital. And what’s magical about that number? Clearly you’re not an accountant. If outsiders put up at least 3 percent of the capital, accountants are allowed to keep the deal off the parent company’s books. But Enron couldn’t even get this right. It turns out that Enron had provided collateral for about half of Chewco’s $11.5 million investment. This meant Chewco had only about 1.5 percent at risk, not 3 percent. So JEDI and Chewco should have been treated as part of Enron by Arthur Andersen from late 1997 on. But they weren’t. In congressional testimony last month, Andersen chief executive Joseph Berardino admitted the accounting was wrong, but said it wasn’t Andersen’s fault because no one told his firm about the collateral Enron had provided. What Berardino didn’t say then (and he wouldn’t talk to us) is that even if Chewco had met the 3 percent rule, the result would still be outrageously misleading. Keeping JEDI and Chewco off the books inflated Enron’s 1997 profits by 75 percent. And the move inflated profits for three more years, for a total of $396 million. Did keeping JEDI and Chewco off Enron’s books when their impact was so great “present fairly” Enron’s financial situation, as Andersen certified? Not to me. But I’m only an English major.


Now, to the death spiral. Enron had started 2001 in great shape. Its stock was $83, close to its previous high of $90. CEO Jeff Skilling said in January that the stock was really worth $126. But rather than heading north, Enron stock started falling as the year wore on. The continuous decline in Internet and telecom issues helped drag it down, as did falling natural-gas prices. What some Enron insiders knew—but outsiders didn’t—is that the falling stock price was going to cause trouble, big time. That’s because Enron was going to have to fork over lots of money, or give ruinous amounts of stock, to institutions that had lent billions to Enron’s off-balance-sheet entities. The commitment to provide that stock made the off-balance-sheet entities creditworthy, because it reassured lenders about getting their money back.

Skilling quit unexpectedly in August, triggering speculation that something was amiss (he said he wanted to spend more time with his family). Skilling wouldn’t talk to NEWSWEEK, but his spokesman said that Skilling “left believing the company was in very good shape.” Asked if Skilling felt any responsibility for Enron’s failure, his spokesman said he believes that “what happened to Enron is a tragedy. He does not understand the reasons for it.”
The reasons, actually, are sort of obvious. The end began on Oct. 16, when Enron held a conference call to discuss its third-quarter profits. Or, more accurately, losses. Buried in its release was the fact that Enron’s net worth had mysteriously shrunk by $1.2 billion. That was because of a complex off-balance-sheet deal involving four partnerships called Raptor, but Enron didn’t explain that.


For the first time, Enron found itself fielding lots of hostile questions from its formerly docile constituency on Wall Street. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal had been picking away at the Enron facade, revealing, among other things, that Enron’s chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow, had made more than $30 million in fees for running some of the supposedly independent partnerships. That, plus the losses and the vanished $1.2 billion of net worth, started a Wall Street uproar. This went virtually unnoticed in Washington, where all eyes were on Afghanistan. But a few days later the Securities and Exchange Commission informed Enron that it had begun an informal investigation. Enron did what comes naturally to any large company in trouble—it ran for a lawyer: University of Texas Law School Dean William Powers Jr. It put Powers on its board and named him to chair a special board committee to deal with the SEC, and to investigate. Powers hired William McLucas, a former head of the SEC’s enforcement division and a partner at the Washington law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. McLucas assembled a legal task force and hired accountants from Deloitte & Touche to dig into the books.
Guess what? Inside a month, McLucas & Co. found unpleasant truths that Enron’s board (and presumably Andersen) had ignored or overlooked for years. Then again, McLucas didn’t have a vested interest in ignoring them. McLucas’s conclusion: Enron’s profits had been grossly overstated and its debts understated for five years.
On Nov. 8, Enron issued a report, clearly crafted by McLucas, saying that its numbers dating back to 1997 could no longer be relied on. About 10 days later, it issued its third-quarter report, containing additional damaging information. The end was nearing. As a trading company, Enron needed huge amounts of credit to carry inventory (and, as we’ve seen, to cover losses) and also needed the confidence of trading partners. With Enron’s numbers hinky, its credit failing, a cash crisis clearly on the horizon, Enron’s beloved free market did it in. Creditors fled, trading partners fled, money gushed out the door. After an aborted attempt to sell out to crosstown rival Dynegy Inc., which walked away from the deal at the last moment, Enron was out of cash, out of credit, out of luck and out of time. It filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 2. And it may well never emerge from it. Its energy-trading business is still very valuable, but the bankruptcy is looking messy, even by bankruptcy standards.

Former Enron employees can’t stop shaking their heads over the sorry saga. “There was a time not so long ago when we all thought Ken Lay was just the most wonderful person in the world,” says Shane Yelverton, who had worked as a senior administrative assistant in Enron’s engineering department. “But now we’re hearing all this stuff: that he was selling off stock, even while he was telling us not to sell our stock. It’s disgusting.”
Charles Prestwood is more than disgusted. A pipeline operator who had been with Enron since day one, he retired in October 2000 with $1.3 million of Enron stock in his 401(k). Now, he’s watching pennies. “All those dreams are gone now,” he says. “I’ve lost everything I had. I’m just barely surviving.”
Remember John Allario, the former Enron employee who so elegantly described the corporate culture in Enron’s heyday? He’s getting a measure of revenge. Invoking his former CEO’s last name, he started a Web site, laydoff.com, that peddles I GOT LAY’D BY ENRON T shirts. “We’ve sold about 450 so far,” Allario said last week. “It’s my way of showing the company that its former employees whom they left in the lurch are still creative, and that we have something to offer.”
The Enron fallout promises to be severe and far-reaching. With a criminal investigation underway, some of the Enron players face the prospect of spending time in the big house. The only question about Arthur Andersen is how much the partners will have to pay to settle this mess, and whether the company can survive as an independent entity. The accounting profession is wishing it were once again faceless and colorless, instead of being in the harsh spotlight. Financial conglomerates like JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup are going to be scrutinized over their multiple and often conflicting roles at Enron: lenders, trading partners, investors, advisers, investment bankers.
Small investors, understandably, are frightened when a giant, well-regarded company collapses overnight. The obvious lesson: don’t keep too many eggs in one investment basket, especially in the company you work for. Utilities deregulation has suffered a severe blow: if a huge company like Enron can disappear overnight, how can you trust new market players to provide you with essentials like electricity, gas and water? And maybe it’s time to change the name of the Houston Astros’ home park, Enron Field, to House of Cards.

The bottom line: Enron wanted to change the world. It did. But not quite the way that it had in mind.

With Keith Naughton, Kevin Peraino, Temma Ehrenfeld, Donna Foote in Los Angeles and Jamie Reno in San Diego

© 2002 Newsweek, Inc.

-- Cherri (jessam5@home.com), January 15, 2002


Me thinks some people had an attitude that they were above the law/rules.

-- Cherri (jessam5@home.com), January 15, 2002.

Hubris built & killed Enron. For us little poeple, everyone whose 401k held shares took credit for their own good judgement on the way up and then villified the conniving bastards on the way down. Hubris is neat when it works for you but a handy sword when it doesn't.

-- Carlos (riffraff@cybertime.net), January 16, 2002.

Here is the Yahoo profile of Enron.

Here are bios of the Enr on officers and Board of Directors.

Inept and/or corrupt management plus a lazy, sloppy Board (the Board failed its fiduciary responsibility to the stockholders) are the culprits. In the 80s, Prosecuter Guiliani obtained convictions on Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky for illegal securities manipulation. Someone(s) here deserves some hard time too. Incompetance is not illegal, but this exceeds incompetance.

But, sad to say Dems, Bush did not bail out these crooks.

-- (lars@indy.net), January 16, 2002.

"But, sad to say Dems, Bush did not bail out these crooks."

Of course not, that would make it too obvious that he was one of them!

-- (Ashcroft@won't.touch.that), January 16, 2002.

But, sad to say Dems, Bush did not bail out these crooks.

Isn't that precious. It's the only think the Bush administration hasn't done with Enron. Allowing Lay dictate the energy policy Cheney was in charge of. Not to mention the money give away to Enron and the power industry that was tied into the anti-terrorism legislation after 911.

Bush and the administration didn't pay for Enron's shoe shines, they didn't help Enron pay their toilet paper bill. How cute, to distract the influence Enron had on the election and energy policies the hype they come up with is the fact that no one was stupid enough to bail out what was becoming obviously corrupted behavior management. yeppers, they were not bailed out by the administration, there is even a point where corruptrd souls know when to prevent cutting their oown throats.

-- Cherri (jessam5@home.com), January 17, 2002.

Lars, I think Cherri is absolutely right in pointing out that it is meaningless that the Bush Administration did not bail out Enron after it became clear that Enron was a lost cause.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), January 17, 2002.

Campaign finance reform would help. Limiting lobbyists would help. Term limits would help.

But has everyone missed the fact that Tom Daschle's wife is a lobbyist for the airline industry (representing Northwest and one other airline, can't remember at the moment)? Have we already forgotten that big multi-billion dollar bailout several weeks ago? :)

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), January 17, 2002.

"Allowing Lay dictate the energy policy Cheney was in charge of..."

Prove it Cherri. Saying two people have the same idea proves what? That two people have the same idea and nothing more.

Sorry, Lars' point is valid. Bush did nothing to influence the downfall of Enron and the dems are having a tough time with this. They can't fault Bush for doing nothing and so they say that he should have done something, like warn the employees. Too funny!

They also can't find anything wrong with Enron gaving $ to EACH party. So what Lay had access?! A friend can't call a friend? Rich had plenty of 'friendly' encounters with Clinton, didn't prove anything. Yet it looks way more suspicious because, look what happened there, Clinton pardoned the guy. Now look at what 'access' bought in the Enron case. Nothing, absolutely nothing. I love watching the dems just fall all over themselves. They try to attack from every angle and get nowhere. Please pass the popcorn.

-- Maria (anon@mous.com), January 17, 2002.

Maria: "Prove it Cherri. Saying two people have the same idea proves what?"

Yes, Maria. Bribery is old-fashioned, outmoded and unnecessary these days.

You can funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to a politician and it is merely a campaign contribution. Congressional representatives and senators already live a life of luxury, power and status - there is little need to add to the benefits already provided them by tax dollars. All these people want is to stay in office - the rest falls out naturally from that.

You can leverage those campaign contributions into the abillity to speak directly to your representative on demand, while everyone else is routed through an aide, who is more than likely to pass on your thoughts, ideas and opinions to her boss as a single tick mark on one side of a For/Against list. But this is merely an act of discretion on the part of the representative, nothing illegal.

You can leverage your contributions into the ability to request and receive advance copies of proposed legislation that you can examine, ponder and 'suggest' alterations to. But if the representative incorporates your 'suggestions' into the bill, word-for-word, this is not collusion or bribery. It is merely constituent service, a courtesy extended to a party affected by the proposed law. After all, how is this different from any other lobbying?

Then, when the time comes to vote on the bill, and the representative votes exactly as you indicated you desired, this is not vote-buying. It is merely philosophical agreement extended to its logical conclusion.

On the executive side of the equation, the process is even easier! No messy vote counting or horse trading. Just a simple word from the president (or governor, or mayor) and *presto*, you are 'suggesting' the policy that writes the administrative rules. Once those rules are in place, the whole bureaucracy is working for your interests, not against them. You glide from point A to point B with an absolute minimum of fuss.

Why give a politician a traditional bribe, when you can buy all these benefits absolutely risk-free and get the same outcome, all for a legal, above-board contribution?

The bribe is reserved for lowly folks who can't make law or policy, like building inspectors or police officers. We've reached the point where bribing a politician is well-nigh impossible.

-- Little Nipper (canis@minor.net), January 17, 2002.


It just so happens that I agree with you in principle. The problem in this particular case is that Bush's enemies simply want to hang this one on him, and that dog won't hunt. They're going to have to wait for a REAL scandal, not one in which a rich contributor called up and said, "can you help me?!?" and the White House said, NO.

It's not working, anyway. The polls are showing thatEnron is having *ZERO* effect on Bush's popularity. NONE. And of those questioned, most feel that, to the extent that the failure can even be blamed on Washington (the leadership of Enron actually bears the responsibilty), it cuts both ways.

Bush may have taken more money, but it doesn't help that Enron's lobbyists in Washington were mostly Democrats.

I call 'em as I see 'em. When the Republicans tried to make huge foo foo out of the Lewinsky thing, I said it was pure politics and even made a joke of it (see here, at the definition for "Congress," for example. :)

I say the same here, and like most Americans, I'm am BONE weary of it. It was pure hypocrisy for the Republicans to go after Clinton for sex scandals, and it is pure hypocrisy for Democrats to go after Bush for Enron.

Fortunately, most Americans can see this. The problems are fundamental and need to be dealt with at a fundamental level, as I said above: with things like term limits and campaign finance reform.

-- Stephen M. Poole (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), January 17, 2002.

LN, if you're suggesting that money talks, hooray for you for speaking the obvious. Just like it couldn't be proved that Rich bought his pardon, you can't prove 'back office deals' with Lay.

For me, this doesn't even come close to likelihood of wrong-doing of the President. At least my scenario of Rich's purchase was based on factual events. This Enron conspiracy has no factual events, just innuendo and pure gossip. Where is that popcorn?!

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), January 17, 2002.

Stephen, if you read my post again, you'll notice I didn't write about this as a partisan problem at all. Both parties are playing by these rules.

It's unlikely Bush or any of his cabinet officers broke the law. The legal boundaries of the process is almost infinitely accomodating and almost inpossible to cross.

Nor is it possible to condemn Bush on this without condemning several dozen other politicians on both sides of the aisle in Congress. The same ethical apply to the many, many Democrats who accept similar contributions and perform similar services. What is sad about this affair is how typical it is, not how unusual.

As for the defense that 'Bush did nothing to help Enron', how does that apply to Cheney's working group to write the Bush administration's energy policy? He only invited input from executives and lobbyists of the energy industry. To me, that was the scandal. Enron's collapse only makes it look like something has changed since then. Nothing has.

The real scandal is so common, so universal as to escape notice. It is like when your nose is exposed to a foul smell - but after ten minutes it doesn't seem so bad as before, not because the smell is any different, but because your brain has started to filter it out as nothing worth noticing anymore.

As for the defense that people don't care, perhaps they'd care more if they thought that there was a way to change the overall ethical climate in Washington. Frankly, I think they've given up.

-- Little Nipper (canis@minor.net), January 17, 2002.

"I love watching the dems just fall over themselves"

Huh?? What planet are you on?

Last I heard, there was a full-scale probe being conducted, and we will see what comes of it. We may get to the bottom of this very quickly, or we may decide to drag it out for 8 years like the Whitewater investigation (heh-heh).

I certainly don't see any dems taking a fall. So far, a very revealing memo has surfaced, which makes it obvious that Dubya's friends at the top were very aware of the corrupt practices, yet they continued to deceive their investors. One of the paper-shredders at Andersen was fired, but he isn't going to "take the fall" so easily. He is pointing fingers at higher-ups who ordered him to destroy the documents.

And then of course, there is our good friend Dubya. He "took a fall" of his own a few days ago, and if you believe the pretzel-choking story I'd like to sell you some swampland in Florida. Methinks he fainted because his blood pressure has recently skyrocketed. It finally began to sink into his thick skull that he will soon be spending life in prison after all of his dirty deeds are finally discovered. LOL, I bet he is wishing he knew where Bin Laden is, so that he could hide with him!

Sorry to disappoint you Maria, but it is the repugs who are doing the falling, and the dems who are doing the laughing. We are looking forward to a very loooooong investigation, as we savor each and every time another repug goes "down for the count"! LOLOL!!!

-- ROTFLMAO! (Bwaahahaha@haha.haahaha!), January 17, 2002.

Thanks for yet another chuckle!

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), January 17, 2002.

Keep chuckling Maria, that's the way we like our repugs, dumb and happy being dumb. Methinks you are not aware of the seriousness of your predicament, or you are chuckling out of nervousness.

Repugs generally like it when corporations and their political partners in crime pull these dirty deeds, because they think that they too will benefit as stockholders. This time the truth has come out, and it is clear that the repugs in power have even been fucking members of their own family. When the dust finally settles, it will be a long time before a reug ever gets the presidency again, and the dems will get the last laugh (or chuckle).

-- LOLOL! (this is the big one @ repug scoundrels. finally exposed), January 17, 2002.

LOL! I'm only nervous about not getting enough popcorn. Who's got the popcorn?

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), January 17, 2002.

Shelled sunflower seeds here....want some?

-- (cin@cin.cin), January 17, 2002.


Press Secretary Ari Fleischer Refuses To Answer
Questions At Press Conference Whether Bush
Administration Is Looking Into This

Fleischer Should Consider Resigning

(Washington, D.C.) Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm that investigates and prosecutes government abuse and corruption, has filed 4 lawsuits seeking all contacts between Enron and the Bush and Clinton Administrations, among other information.

At today’s White House Press Conference, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer refused to answer questions whether the Bush Administration is looking into these contacts.

A few days ago, Fleischer downplayed the need to investigate the Enron scandal, claiming that the American people have become tired of “political witch-hunts.”

“Fleischer’s attempt to avoid answering important questions about Enron and his snide comment that the investigations of the Clinton scandals were unwarranted – in order to shield the Bush Administration from similar investigations -- is intellectually dishonest. Further, just last week he incorrectly told the media that The White House was not called by Bush cabinet secretaries over the Enron collapse. Fleischer’s credibility is therefore now close to zero, and he should consider resigning,” stated Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel, Larry Klayman.

“The American people have a right to know all the facts. If the Bush Administration is not hiding something, then why is it stonewalling Judicial Watch’s legitimate document requests, forcing the public interest group to file 4 lawsuits to date, “added Klayman.

Judicial Watch will be filing a shareholders’ derivative suit in the near future.



-- Cherri (jessam5@home.com), January 18, 2002.

Ya gotta love it. Oh no Bush refuses to answer reporters' questions. Never mind that Clinton's friends went to jail for not answering questions in a court of law. We can accept that Clinton wasn't hiding anything but of course Bush is hiding so much. Oh so many secrets.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), January 18, 2002.

"A few days ago, Fleischer downplayed the need to investigate the Enron scandal, claiming that the American people have become tired of “political witch-hunts.”"


The shoe is on the other foot!

Hey Maria! Pass the popcorn, this show is getting better every day!

-- Yeeehaaa! (this show is @ gettin. good), January 18, 2002.

Larry Klayman has become one of my heros. He gave the Clinton Administration hell and grief for its (IMHO) non-stop lying, and now he is going after the Republicans for their abuses.

The Clinton Administration's spin on Klayman was that he was just a hypocritical Republican mouthpiece. Not true at all.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), January 19, 2002.

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