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Front Page » March 26, 2002 » Opinion » Political hypocrisy: an Olympic event
Published 4,408 days ago

Political hypocrisy: an Olympic event


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By DONALD KAUL
Beyond the Beltway

You have to hand it to the geniuses who run the Olympics. Only they could make a Great Scandal out of an event that practically nobody gives a damn about. (I can hear the Russians now: "Boris, we've lost Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Ukraine and Belarus. We can't afford to lose pairs figure skating too. Do what you have to do.")

What happened, of course, is that a French judge went into the tank for the Russians in the pairs competition, pushing the Canadian skaters into second place and causing a great uproar that led to everyone involved getting gold medals, except for the French judge, who got dumped.

Except for the uproar, there wasn't anything unusual about that. Figure skating almost always looks fixed, with the favorites going in generally winning no matter how they skate, particularly if they're Russians. (The judges, many from gray countries without a lot of giggle to them, favor the wrist-to-the-forehead tragic style of Russian skaters. Points are deducted for having a good time.)

This time they didn't even bother to make the fix look good, and the ice chips hit the fan.

They say they're going to improve the judging by increasing the number of judges (which is a little like fighting terrorism by cloning bin Laden, but never mind). I have my own suggestions for improving judging: " A two-tenths of a point deduction if the male skater wears a shirt with poofy sleeves.

" A two-tenths addition if the female skater is wearing less makeup than a Las Vegas hooker.

" Automatic disqualification for crying."

That might not end all controversy over the results, but it would make it a lot easier to watch.

Incidentally, since there was so much controversy over who really deserved the gold medal � some said the Canadians because they skated perfectly, some the Russians because their program was much more difficult � I decided to get an authoritative opinion. I called the members of the U.S. Supreme Court and asked them whom they thought had won. By a 5 to 4 vote, they awarded the gold medal to George Bush. (Those court people don't have many convictions, but the ones they have are firm.) But enough of politics, let's turn our attention to entertainment. Have you watched any of the Enron hearings? Not since Richard Nixon's Checkers speech have we seen such fancy hypocrisy on display.

•Jeff Skilling telling an incredulous House committee that he, the company's former president and CEO, was completely ignorant of the fact that the company was going down and that his selling of his Enron stock just before it crashed was sheer luck.

•Kenneth (Kenny Boy) Lay, Enron's former chairman, stoically telling the committee that he'd love to explain the whole Enron mess to it, but that the Fifth Amendment (and his lawyer) wouldn't let him. (Meanwhile his wife was pleading poverty, even though her husband had taken some $200 million out of the company in the past decade.)

•President Bush, who had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Enron and Lay over the years, suddenly suffering amnesia and being unable to quite place his benefactor, confusing him with someone who once a Bush's opponent in Texas.

•Then there was Congress itself, the New York Yankees of hypocrisy. When Lay took the Fifth at a committee hearing, the members took turns heaping scorn and ridicule on him, as though the vehemence of their remarks somehow proved their own virtue. These, mind you, are the same people who, six months before, would have been at him like cocker spaniels, licking his hand, sitting up and begging for treats. You really should start paying attention to the Enron scandal. It's more entertaining than "Friends" and, after all, you paid for it.

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