To watch "The Memo" click here.
Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly, reporting tonight from Chicago. Thank you for watching us.
We'll have the latest in the Smart case in a moment. But first, President Bush is becoming a target in the corporate scandal situation. That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.
It angered me to see another corporate weasel, Bernard Ebbers of WorldCom, take the Fifth Amendment today in front of the House Financial Services Committee. Once again, here we have a guy who rode his corporation into near-bankruptcy while at the same time taking out hundreds of millions of dollars for himself, and those dollars were your stock purchases.
The scenario is a rerun, of course. Enron, Global Crossing, Tyco, all companies that have been looted by greedy executives.
President Bush is concerned enough about the corporate scandals to hold a surprise press conference today, during which he defended SEC chief Harvey Pitt, saying he's been fast to act.
The president also said he'd seek more funding for the SEC so it could hire more investigators.
But there is more danger to the president politically than just corporate corruption. Democrats are pointing fingers directly at him because of the $850,000 he made selling shares of Harken Energy Corporation 12 years ago. Couple of months after that sale, Harken stock tanked.
Mr. Bush was cleared by an SEC investigation of any wrongdoing. But let's face it, many powerful people in America make tons of money because of their connections, and Mr. Bush is one of them.
But the Democrats must be very careful here. Their glass house includes Hillary Clinton making a huge profit in the commodities market, and DNC chief Terry McAuliffe making $18 million by selling shares of the now-bankrupt Global Crossing Corporation.
In addition, former President Clinton has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Saudis for giving speeches over there even as Saudi cooperation after 9/11 has been shaky to say the least.
Former President Ford also became a multimillionaire after he left the presidency, and so it goes.
Talking Points often says the powerful in America protect each other, and that includes giving each other privileged information about financial situations. The powerful don't see this as morally wrong. Martha Stewart doesn't think she did anything to be ashamed of by dumping her ImClone stock one day before it blew up.
The truth is that the United States government is not nearly strict enough on corporate thieves. And President Bush must change that in a hurry. If he doesn't, the voters will remember.
There is little passion, however, in the Justice Department for bringing down the fat cats. Former attorney general Janet Reno's tenure was an absolute disgrace as she stonewalled most investigations that focused on the powerful.
Call me crazy, but I don't see any crusader passion on the part of Attorney General John Ashcroft either. He will have to be ordered by the president to aggressively investigate corporate thieves. I don't believe he'll do it on his own.
This whole corporate corruption deal makes me sick. Millions of Americans played by the rules, invested their hard-earned money in mutual funds and 401(K)s, and now we have lost trillions of dollars.
But Gary Winnick, former CEO of the bankrupt Global Crossing Company, building a $100 million home in Bel Air, California. And Scott Sullivan, former chief financial officer of WorldCom, building a $12 million home in Boca Raton, Florida.
We ought to give these guys a housewarming party when they're ready to move in. Talking Points will run the torch concession. Figuratively speaking, of course.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."
If you read the "O'Reilly Factor" book, you know I'm not a big fan of designer coffee. I'm a Juan Valdez guy all the way. Paying $4 for a mocha frappuccino is ridiculous. And now we learn that many coffee shops in New York City, at least, are charging a buck more for iced coffee than for hot coffee. So I guess that means we're paying for the brand-new refrigerator that makes the ice. This coffee mania all over the USA is ridiculous on all fronts.
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