When CSPAN Looks Like Monty Python

It’s been near­ly a week since it aired, and there have been so many oth­er scan­dals, dis­as­ters and idio­cies since then, because that is what a typ­i­cal week with the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion in pow­er is in the US, but I just had to show this clip.

Here’s the con­text: There was a ‘Brown Bag Lunch’ at the Fed­er­al Offices of the GSA, the Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion. The Wikipedia entry for the GSA is this:

The Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion (GSA) is an inde­pen­dent agency of the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment, estab­lished in 1949 to help man­age and sup­port the basic func­tion­ing of fed­er­al agen­cies. The GSA sup­plies prod­ucts and com­mu­ni­ca­tions for U.S. gov­ern­ment offices, pro­vides trans­porta­tion and office space to fed­er­al employ­ees, and devel­ops gov­ern­ment-wide cost-min­i­miz­ing poli­cies, among oth­er man­age­ment tasks. Its stat­ed mis­sion is to “help fed­er­al agen­cies bet­ter serve the pub­lic by offer­ing, at best val­ue, supe­ri­or work­places, expert solu­tions, acqui­si­tion ser­vices and man­age­ment poli­cies.”

Back in Decem­ber of last year, Luri­ta Doan, (a loy­al Repub­li­can sup­port­er to the tune of $226,000 in cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions) the GSA’s Inspec­tor Gen­er­al, pro­posed cut­ting $5 mil­lion from the bud­get of GSA’s Office of the Inspec­tor Gen­er­al for review­ing gov­ern­ment con­tracts for fraud and waste. In oth­er words, remove over­sight. One won­ders where the pres­sure for doing such a thing may have come from (dare I say, Lob­by­ists for Gov­ern­ment Con­trac­tors like Hal­ibur­ton, per­haps?). When oth­er Inspec­tors would­n’t go along with her plan, (like GSA Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Bri­an D. Miller) she said: “There are two kinds of ter­ror­ism in the US: the exter­nal kind; and inter­nal­ly, the IGs have ter­ror­ized the Region­al Admin­is­tra­tors.”

That’s right, going against her plan was likened to ‘Ter­ror­ism’. So the ‘You’re either with us or against us’ slo­gan applies to the award­ing of gov­ern­ment con­tracts, too.

But that’s not what this video is about. As I men­tioned ear­li­er, this is about a lunchtime pre­sen­ta­tion about a week ago at the GSA’s offices in Wash­ing­ton. It seems that the Pow­er­point slides that were shown dur­ing the lunch some­how found their way to the desk of Con­gress­man Bruce Bra­ley (Rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Iowa). The author of that Pow­er­point was none oth­er than the cen­ter of so many oth­er scan­dals and skul­dug­gery in Wash­ing­ton, Karl Rove.

The clip is a lit­tle long (about 10 min­utes), but some of it is so unin­ten­tion­al­ly hilar­i­ous that I almost have to remind myself that this is real tes­ti­mo­ny, not a com­e­dy sketch. If you’ve already seen it, you’ll know what I’m talk­ing about. If not, and you have a few min­utes, take a look; Rarely do you see some­one caught in such out­right lies. Ms. Doan was clear­ly instruct­ed by legal coun­sel to pull the ‘Rea­gan Defense’ (I don’t remem­ber any­thing), but I’m not con­vinced, and I sus­pect that most peo­ple aren’t either.

Oh, and by the way, The Hatch Act of 1939 makes it clear that this sort of thing is ille­gal. Ms. Doan should not only be fired, but she should serve jail time. But that prob­a­bly won’t hap­pen in the slow motion train wreck that is the USA these days.

3 Replies to “When CSPAN Looks Like Monty Python”

  1. David, thanks for this … I guess with all the oth­er stuff going on, this one got past me.

    What a great defense these folks have, eh?? I think a mega-dose of gingko bilo­ba is in order for most of the repugs as they get hauled in front of these com­mit­tees. Oth­er­wise, we won’t get any answers due to their faulty mem­o­ries!

    Good to be up here in The West End — Hope we get to meet this trip …

  2. Oh my God. Bra­ley nailed her.

    Con­gress­man, I’ll, uh, ah, accept your expla­na­tion of it… This, uh, brown bag lun­cheon, has been, ah, mis­char­ac­ter­ized… we do team build­ing activ­i­ties… this is not my slide pre­sen­ta­tion… IF I TELL YOU WHAT I REALLY KNOW, I WILL BE FIRED AND LOSE MY GOVERNMENT PENSION! LEAVE ME ALONE, MEANIE!”

  3. The Mon­ty Python bit that kept com­ing to mind is one where some­one is a con­tes­tant on a Game show called ‘Stake your Claim’. He claims to have writ­ten all of Shake­speare’s Plays and he and his wife have writ­ten all of his son­nets. When asked how he could have done this, since they had exist­ed for sev­er­al cen­turies, he says “Oh, well that’s where my claim falls to the ground.” The next fel­low who’s about to come on decides against it and says “Oh, I can see I won’t last a minute with you.” It’s that sec­ond guy who reminds me of Ms. Doan. She knows the jig is up, but there she is, on the stage.

    As a friend of mine from Eng­land used to say when it looked like we were about to be pulled over for speed­ing would say: ‘You’ve been nicked, mate.’
    (Odd­ly enough to ‘nick’ some­thing was to steal it, so steal­ing and get­ting caught were one in the same).

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