A few journalists - admittedly, very few - are asking why their colleagues are giving George W. Bush a "free ride" on the Enron Corp. scandal.
If this were Bill Clinton, after all, there would be front-page stories, nasty editorials, ranting columnists and a congressional investigation or two. There'd even be a couple of "outraged" congressmen suggesting impeachment's not far off.
There's one Senate investigation that is just getting under way, but so far no serious look at how the Bush administration bigwigs might be involved. George W. - if asked at all - says neither he nor his dad had anything to do with the failed business that left thousands of workers without pensions or pay, but allowed several of the big shots to escape with a few million bucks in their bank accounts.
Robert Scheer of the Los Angeles Times noted the other day that finally one reporter asked Bush a question about the scandal and his family's possible involvement.
Bush, of course, was aghast and said something about how important it was to "understand the 'whys' of Enron."
That was fine, Scheer suggested, but why then didn't Bush ask "Kenny Boy" - the president's nickname for Enron's Chairman Kenneth L. Lay - why or, at least, how it all happened.
"Given the intense interest in the list of those who slept over in the Clinton White House, it's odd that no attention has been paid to Kenny Boy's sleepover in the early years of the senior Bush's White House," Sheer wrote. "Those early Bush years were crucial for Enron, beginning with the passage of the 1992 Energy Policy Act, which forced the established utility companies to carry Enron's electricity sales on their wires."
"Kenny Boy," of course, was one of W's best pals when the two of them were involved - first in business ventures in Texas, and then later when W became governor.
And, as Scheer points out, there would be no Enron as we know it were it not for Republican-engineered changes in government regulation that permitted Enron its meteoric growth.
There are at least four former Enron execs or consultants in Bush's administration. Some may wind up testifying in the probe of how Enron lost its investors billions and its employees about everything they owned.
Phil Gramm, the Texas senator who set a new standard of sanctimony over Bill Clinton's behavior, is up to his neck in the Enron scandal as well. Gramm and his wife, Wendy, who happens to sit on the Enron board of directors, were able to secure the corporation several special favors and exemptions from regulations, thanks to their positions in the government.
Amazing how there was such profound interest in a small real estate development called Whitewater when Clinton was president, but very little excitement about a multibillion-dollar, full-blown debacle involving everything from ethics to fraud and thousands of ruined lives.
Guess that's the "liberal" press for you.
Copyright 2002 The Capital Times