[Aired June 28, 2002] This episode is called "What Will Bu$h Do About Corporate Corruption?" Cute...the answer is not a damn thing, unfortunately. That's because Bu$h profited from it when he was a director of Harken Energy and other times in his biz past. Paul Begala points out that documents show Bush received memos in the spring of 1990 that referred in stark terms to his company's cash-strapped condition, as banks demanded it pay down its debt. One document said the company was in the midst of a liquidity crisis. Another told Bush the company was in a state of non-compliance with its lenders. After learning these things, GW sold stock. A few weeks later, the bad news about Harken's finances came out and the stock collapsed. Bush walked away with a fortune. Sound familiar? Enron and WorldCom (well, maybe, with training wheels)!
Caught in the Crossfire: What Will Bu$h Do About Corporate Corruption?
[Aired June 28, 2002]
BEGALA: There's a new poll out this week that I want to show you Ed and you can read polls with the best of them. The PEW Research Organization (ph) asked American citizens how President Bush is doing handling our economic conditions. They asked first, is he doing as much as he can or could he be doing more?
Nearly two to one, our fellow Americans say that Bush could be doing more to try to help the economy, and I presume that's also to rein in corporate excesses. This is terrible news for the Republicans, isn't it Ed?
ROGERS: Well by any standard President Bush's popularity and approval rating right now is historically and colossally high.
If you find satisfaction in slicing and dicing a poll and finding something that suggests that he's not doing as much as he can on the economy, when he's fighting the war on terrorism and doing a lot of things that personally threaten people, that people consider more of a priority, that's not altogether a bad thing.
Having said that, the macro economy matters. There's no question about that. If the Democrat Senate would be more cooperative, we might have a better macro economy.
BEGALA: You know I remember a president named Bush who said overseas wars were more important than the economy at home and it's all the Democrats' fault in Congress and I remember him getting the biggest butt whipping of any incumbent president in history. Maybe his son will exceed that. Ed, aren't you worried about replaying 1992?
ROGERS: Well, maybe people have learned those lessons, but also ...
ROGERS: ... that was an election during a recession. There won't be an election during a recession this time unless the Democrats are really good at tossing a wrench in the years and dragging the economy down.
BECKEL: One of the problems of you guys who drive Jaguars is you don't seem to understand that there is a recession in America. You ought to travel out to places like Idaho ...
BECKEL: Let me - let me tell you something ...
CARLSON: Bob, can you stop the demagoguery for one second? I want to read you a list ...
BECKEL: Me stop the demagoguery ...
CARLSON: I want to read you a list of issues the Democrats are hoping to run on. Enron, the war, tax cuts, Social Security. Now, we hear the Democratic leaders want to run on WorldCom. There is one problem with this, apart from the fact that obviously the Democratic Party is the party of Marc Rich.
Here is the essential problem. I want to show you a list of corporate donations over the past 18 months from Global Crossing, WorldCom, Qwest Communications.
The Democrats received a total of $1.5 million; Republicans, $1.3 million. The fact is both parties take it. Democrats take a little more. There's no way you can run on this.
BECKEL: You know something, Tucker? It's amazing about you, my boy. You just have lost touch with reality again. You know for years, you wrapped labor unions around us and you know the American people equate the Democratic Party with labor.
CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the mafia -
BECKEL: Wait a second - wait a second.
ROGERS: There's a lot of that.
BECKEL: The -- you better be careful, I got an uncle who's in the mob. The - Tucker, let me tell you something. When it comes to big corporate America, the Republican Party has got them hung around their neck like an albatross.
Let me ask you one question, if George Bush was so concerned -- he ran out today and said, oh, it was just terrible, all these big corporations doing bad things.
You know what would be a good idea, instead of talking about it, John Ashcroft, instead of getting some Puerto Rican kid out of Brooklyn who was supposed to have a dirty bomb, why doesn't he indict somebody from Enron. There's been three indictments on Enron. They're all British citizens. You know why?
CARLSON: Instead of saving your country ...
BECKEL: You're tied in lock, stock and barrel with Enron. Lay ought to be in jail, and he ought to be in jail with no bail whatsoever, and you guys haven't done it. Why?
BEGALA: Let me ask you the question ...
BEGALA: ... let me ask you the question first. The president's strategy is to try to get out in front of this. Tomorrow, our president's going to gives his national radio address on corporate responsibility. On July 9 we learned the president will give a big speech, a major address on corporate responsibility.
Are you worried about the hypocrisy issue coming from that? Let me read you something that the "Associated Press" wrote about George Bush.
BEGALA: They said that as a Harken - he's a director of a company called Harken Energy. The "Associated Press" says documents show Bush received memos in the spring of 1990 that referred in stark terms to his company's cash-strapped condition, as banks demanded it pay down its debt. One document said the company was in the midst of a liquidity crisis. Another told Bush the company was in a state of non-compliance with its lenders.
After that briefing, he sold his stock. A few weeks later, the bad news about their finances came out. The stock collapsed. Bush walked away with a fortune. Doesn't that sound remarkably similar to WorldCom?
ROGERS: You guys have beat your heads against that wall for a couple of years. Keep it up, but let me say this.
BEGALA: So you're not worried about insider trading ...
ROGERS: Let me ...
ROGERS: ... let me say this. These bogus accounting practices where the president, the Republican leadership of Congress are doing a lot about didn't start on Inauguration Day, January 21st ...
BEGALA: No, Bush was doing it when he was in business, Ed.