Bloggers analyze both the Enron verdicts and reports that the speaker of the house is being investigated in a lobbying scandal. Meanwhile, America crowns its new idol.
Lay-ing down the law: Enron founder Ken Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling were convicted of conspiracy and fraud Thursday for their roles in the energy giant's corporate scandal, causing bloggers to do the schadenfreude shuffle.
Pundits of all stripes would like to personally escort the pair to the prison gates. "Someone prepare the firing squad. Better yet, I'll volunteer," writes liberal feminist Lab Kat. "The capper would be seeing those two men do a Jim Bakker and cry like babies as they're taken away. However it happens, that will indeed be a day to rejoice," writes politically conservative, socially liberal radio host Tammy Bruce. At Sandbox, conservative military blogger Craigsan expresses a similar sentiment. "People who cheat the system hurt me and all the other honest people out there trying to build a nest egg. Good riddance," he writes. But lefty Brian at Incertus doesn't think the white-collar criminals will serve time. "Two years of appeals and then a pardon by Bush on his way out the door," he laments.
Loren Steffy at the Houston Chronicle's business blog provides a juror's perspective here: "Wendy Vaughn, a roofing contractor, said that Lay's combative demeanor was telling. 'He seemed very much wanting to be in control,' she said. 'He seemed very much to have a chip on his shoulder. It made me question his character.' "
Meanwhile, conservative law professor Stephen Bainbridge praises the jury for parsing out the case. "The acquittal of Skilling on some of the insider trading counts suggests the jury approached the issues with an open mind, contrary to defense claims that they could not get a fair trial in Houston," he writes in a lengthy post offering considerable insight on the verdicts. "But did the system really work?" asks Shel Horowitz at Principled Profit, a financial blog. "Why did it take five years to bring these men to justice, during which time they lived a very luxurious life. Meanwhile, a lot of Enron employees who put their trust in the company saw their retirement wiped out when the stock went worthless. … 19th Century British statesman William Gladstone said, 'Justice delayed is justice denied.' But at least the wheels of justice have turned."
Hasty about Hastert? House Speaker Dennis Hastert and the Justice Department are refuting an ABC News report that Hastert is part of the FBI lobbying investigation that led to Jack Abramoff's conviction. TheNational Journal's Hotline posts a letter purportedly from Hastert's lawyers to ABC News alleging that the story was libelous and threatening legal action, but ABC News is sticking by its story.
Conservative bloggers are particularly riled. Radio host Hugh Hewitt takes a shot at the mainstream media. "Now, was ABC played? Did this story deserve to run? Why should we 'trust' ABC that this story wasn't as thin as a single sheet of paper? Why hadn't ABC managed to get a quote from the high DOJ official that Reuters found?" he writes. " 'Drive-by media' does it again. 'Transparency' would get some ABC response on the mechanics of this story tonight. It may prove that the story was responsible, but at this point, with an emphatic denial issued within a brief time, it looks very unlikely." Meanwhile, Dan at Reihl World View claims that the ABC story is old news gussied up with a new coat of liberal bias. "The Ross / ABC headline grabbing story is a non-story, perhaps fed to him by someone who wanted to take a shot at Hastert. And not even a web search was done to flesh the story out, or discover that Ross was being had. There is no news here whatsoever, other than what could have been known or assumed from reading the Chicago Tribune four months ago. In fact, there is less information - and pertinent facts omitted serve to make it appear worse than it might be." N.Z. Bear at The Truth Laid Bear also has some questions for ABC, while conservative Michelle Malkin provides a roundup of righty opinions.
Liberal Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog thinks Hastert may be wrapped up in the investigation because of traditional fund-raising tactics that are now being scrutinized because of the Abramoff scandal. "[I]t's possible that he could be in serious trouble even if he fully reported the Abramoff contributions. The rules of the game may be changing," Drum writes, referring to an article about the lobbying scandal in WM. Allah Pundit at Hot Air wondered Wednesday if the information leak wasn't just an effort to discredit reporter Brian Ross. "Brian Ross was the reporter who broke the story last week about the FBI supposedly investigating journalists' phone records to uncover leaks. Might someone in the bureau have fed him bad info on Hastert to make his reporting look unreliable?" Other theories say that Hastert is a target because he is opposing the seizure of records in an investigation into bribery allegations against Rep. William Jefferson from Louisiana. "[I]s this 'leak' an attempt by the White House to let Hastert know that he better keep his yap shut when he disagrees with them?" Marie comments on the lefty blog Think Progress.
Here's more on Hastert.
Soul patrol: The blogosphere is jubilant, yet unsurprised, that gray-haired bluesman Taylor Hicks took the American Idol title Wednsday night.
Gwynn Dujardin at Jardiniere was particularly impressed with the star-studded Idol finale. "Crikey, where to start? Paris Bennett scatting with Al Jarreau? Elliot Yamin playing Bono Vox to R & B queen Mary J. Blige? Toni Braxton? Dionne Warwick? PRINCE???!!! (I can't help myself, I gotta say it: yowza!)," she writes. Attorney and Idol fan Ann Althouse gives a blow-by-blow of the season closer. And L.A. gossip specialist Defamer posts a glorious still photo of former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff getting verklempt over Taylor's triumph.
Read more on American Idol.