by Paul Winkelmann
We are only into the first few days of the Enron hearings
and judging by the testimony, it's really no wonder that Enron
We've had numerous Enron execs paraded before the various
investigating committees and, aside from a couple of whistle-blowers,
all we've gotten out of this bunch is a hard fought battle
to see which MBA graduate can demonstrate the highest degree
of job related ignorance.
So far, their testimony, at least the testimony of those
who were brave enough (some might say stupid enough) to renounce
their 5th amendment rights, would lead us to believe that
the country's 7th largest corporation was run by a collection
of self-proclaimed idiots.
Sounds a lot like the pResident's budget office (I'll save
that diatribe for another day).
Sure, the Enron big-wigs were able to tell us all about "pro
forma reporting", "hedging", and "special
purpose entities". But when it came down to a simple
explanation as to why nobody knew where all the fucking money
was going, suddenly they were about as business savvy as grammar-school
girls selling lemonade on a street corner.
Nobody in this company knew anything. Nobody saw anything.
Nobody did anything.
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) almost hit the mark when
he called this the "Sgt. Shultz Defense." It's too
bad Markey chose to further sully the reputation of German
P.O.W. camp guards by throwing them in with the likes of Jeffrey
Skilling and Kenneth Lay.
It would have been more appropriate had Markey invoked the
character of Sgt. Bilko. After all, Shultz was a lovable and
harmless bumbler who really didn't have a clue what was going
on. Where as Bilko was a clever schemer who plotted and carried
out his intricate cons to near pin-point perfection.
And Sgt. Bilko was an American. An American who was always
pulling his 3-Card Monty on other Americans. Shultz, to the
best of my recollection, never intentionally screwed his fellow
I suspect there are those of you who would still lay claim
that Skilling's portrayal is closer to that of Shultz, especially
when coupled with George II's striking similarity to Stalag
13's Col. Klink. We can argue all day long about the on-screen
chemistry between Bush's Klink and Skilling's Shultz but Sgt.
Bilko is the guy who really fits the profile.
Not to mention that casting the pResident as Klink is sure
to offend a profession that would forever be unfairly associated
with the Bush administration. Namely, Nazi lapdogs. They could,
justifiably, sue for defamation of character.
I know it's true that Bush, like Klink, is only following
orders from higher up and is, like Klink, adamant that every
uncooperative American should be quarantined behind a fenced
off security zone. Yes, Klink too stood on the side those
fighting to rid world of midgets, Gypsies, Medicare recipients
and anyone else not born of the proper lineage.
And it does goes without saying that Bush, like Col. Klink
and all his fellow Aryans, would stand to benefit immensely
if a self-appointed dictator could successfully overthrow
the government of the United States and its citizens.
But that is where the similarities end. I've never even seen
Bush wear a monocle.
With that aside, I'm going to stick with my first instincts
and characterize Skilling, Lay, et al, as a gang of cagey,
although slightly more insidious, Sgt. Bilkos. And if I may
say so, Rep. Markey, I believe you owe Sgt. Shultz an apology.
What role does Congress play in all this? Congress is going
to run around like one of Bilko's suspicious but ever-oafish
superior officers. Perpetually one-step behind Bilko, rarely
catching him with his hand in the cookie jar. And if, by chance,
they do, they're always more than willing to look the other
way, for the right price.
So don't be too shocked when Lay and his Sgt. Bilko co-stars
don't spend one night in the brig and they get to keep all
their hard earned residuals. What should surprise you is if
there isn't another prime-time airing of a very similar sit-com.
With all new special guest stars from the studio stables of
__________ (name your favorite campaign sponsor).
Word is, the Oval Office has been holding non-stop auditions
for those roles. Two corporate casting couches, no waiting.