Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sex, Drugs and Energy Independence

There are so many, many things wrong with the new Interior Department scandal.

But, before we get to it, let's applaud some justice well done. Today, a federal judge knocked two years off Jack Abramoff's sentence.

Who is Jack Abramoff? A few years ago he pled guilty to several counts of felonious Indian lobbying. He worked at - wait for it - the Interior Department (what, you ask??). At the time, Congress got all heated up about the issue, promised to close the "Indian lobbying loophole" (basically, ex-Interiorites can't become lobbyists for a full year after their term of service with the government ends. Unless they go to lobby for Native American groups. Why? Who knows!)

The day one of Abramoff's associates was sentenced, the Interior Department sent out an "ethics memo" to its entire staff. When I, as a government reporter, called to ask if the two events were related the Interior spokesman told me, without so much as an ironic chuckle, "Was that sentencing today? Total coincidence."

Now back to the other story. Imagine my (lack of) surprise to learn that the Minerals Management director who "accepted gifts, steered contracts to favored clients and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of the energy firms " now works for a private oil company.

Interior has a long history of "revolving door" ethical violations, particularly under the Bush Administration (W is likely only indirectly responsible for this, considering he himself strolls in and out of the revolving door between government and big American oil HQ).

At times, I really think I can hear the cosmos laughing.

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