Bill Sets an Example
May 9, 2003
By Mike McArdle
ran across my friend Turf Club Doug in, well, the Turf Club
which is kind of Pennsylvania speak for off track betting.
It was Kentucky Derby weekend and I decided to place a couple
of bets on the race.
Dougie on the other hand is something of a fixture at the
Club, a large room with dozens of TVs showing races at tracks
all over America so he can have several bets down at once.
Occasionally when his penchant for the ponies keeps him at
the Club quite late he's been known to bet on races from as
far away as Australia.
Doug was smiling from ear to ear which, of course, could
only mean one thing. He was winning.
"How are you doing?" I asked.
"I'm down about two fifty. Isn't it great?"
"How much did you come in with?"
"Two hundred. Borrowed a hundred from the barmaid about
half an hour ago."
"That doesn't sound too great at all," I said.
"No, but what's great is that now I can do all this without
feeling bad about myself. I found out today that even that
big important virtues guy does it."
"You mean Bill Bennett?" I said.
"You got it. I mean, look - all these years I've been losing
money on horses and football games and lottery tickets and
I've felt lousy about it as long as I can remember. Have you
ever had to tell your five-year-old little girl that Santa
Claus wasn't gonna to be able come around this year because
he busted up his sled and was in goddamn traction?"
"Well no but…"
"And once I had to send her to school for a week with nothin'
for lunch but bags of Beer Nuts that I got one of the bus
boys to steal for me. How do you think that made me feel?"
"You got it. But this guy Bennett's changed everything.
I mean this a guy who people hire to give speeches and write
books about morals and bein' a good person and damned if he
isn't losin' more in a weekend that I could make in ten years."
"But look," I said, "Bennett says that it's not a problem.
He makes a lot of money so that he can afford the losses without
hurting his family and his wife says…"
"His wife? You know how many lies I told my old lady before
she walked out on me?"
"Well okay," I said, "Bennett did tell the casinos to call
him at work and not at home so maybe he wasn't totally up
front with her but he says it's just recreation and…"
"Oh come on. A guy gets himself limoed to a casino in Atlantic
City. Sneaks into a room reserved for the biggest high rollers
so that nobody sees him and spends an entire weekend watching
his $500 tokens gurgle down into a machine that keeps showing
him lemons. Sunday night gets here, he's down a half mill
and he's on the cell phone making reservations for Vegas for
the next weekend. Tell me this guy's enjoying himself."
"Yeah, Dougie, but Bennett's never really come out
against gambling and I have a feeling he'd be a little disapproving
of the way you chase girls. I mean he was very critical of
President Clinton over the intern thing." (I figured it wouldn't
hurt to remind Doug that he has an affinity for fast women
in addition to the slow horses that he can't seem to get enough
"Oh yeah. Ever been to a casino and hung out with the high
rollers? See the kind of women that are all over these places
? Don't tell me Bennett ain't dippin' old Mr. Virtue while
he's on these weekends of his. I mean I am just so
"Well, Bennett says that he's going to stop gambling…"
"Of course he does. I've said that hundreds of times but
this Bennett guy has changed my life, I'll tell you that.
He's shown me the way to go."
"You're going to quit gambling too?"
"Hell, no. I'm gonna write a book about morals. But first
who do you like in the fifth at Santa Anita?"