So now that Bush Junior is firmly in power the press is finally focusing on his shady financial past. Where was Paul Krugman when we needed him, prior to the election? Oh, yeah, enjoying his FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS in speaking fees from Enron.

Most of the Harken Energy story was reported in 2000, in the late S.H. Hatfield's excellent book Fortunate Son (which you may recall, was "discredited" by Rove & Co, thus getting Jr.'s cocaine use out of the papers). The Aloha Petroleum deal isn't mentioned in the book--only a series of questionable insider loans and what one Wall Street analyst called "unusual" stock swaps. Krugman's account creates the impression that the Aloha deal kept Harken afloat and was somehow connected to Bush's sudden stock sale. But that's not really accurate (it's even worse):

Harken was tanking in late 1989 and was miraculously "saved" by the granting of drilling rights in the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain, which I'm sure had nothing to do with Jr's Dad being President. While the stock price was high after that announcement, the State Department informed Bush Senior of Saddam Hussein's plans to annex Kuwaiti oilfields. Obviously war in the Middle East wasn't going to help an uncommenced, speculative drilling project. Using his precognitive powers, and not based on a tip from his Dad, of course, Bush Jr. unloaded his Harken stock in June 1990. Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and the Harken stock went south around the same time. In 1991 the SEC investigated Jr's late-reported, insider stock sale, and again, for reasons having nothing to do with Jr's Dad being President, said "no enforcement is contemplated at this time" without fully exonerating Jr. When Jr. says "it's been vetted" that's what he's talking about.

Krugman got all his information from a story that's been posted on the Center for Public Integrity website since April 2000. That piece doesn't mention the Bahrain/Gulf War angle, but Joe Conason's pre-election story in Harper's did. Regardless, the facts of Bush's shady corporate history were on the table before the election, and no one gave a shit. The Washington Post, which, like Krugman, is just now bringing the Harken story to light, admits that the CPI website "attracted little attention" before the election. Instead, the press talked about important stuff like Gore's too-heavy makeup and sighs during the debates.

- tom moody 7-03-2002 5:37 am

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