CNN's Lou Dobbs eagerly promoted PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers on Tuesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight, describing him as a "distinguished journalist" and "certainly one of this country's most respected journalists." Not as one of the country's most liberal journalists. Dobbs not only promoted his Wednesday PBS show "Capitol Crimes," those words were also the graphic for the segment. Dobbs and Moyers agreed that campaigns today are merely the exchange of bribes, and Moyers added that the McCain-Feingold crackdown on campaign speech is a mere "fig leaf" of regulation.
Dobbs began: "Let's hear what one of the people you chronicle and hear from in the special says, R.G. Ratcliffe, the Houston Chronicle reporter."
R.G. Ratcliffe, Houston Chronicle: "Just the kinds and ways that dollars have flowed into the system in recent years have led to something of a form of institutional corruption. And the kind of thing that you want to watch for, it is not a very big step from a campaign contribution to a bribe."
Dobbs: "Not a very big step at all. And, obviously, Tom DeLay took that step in many respects. So did Jack Abramoff and some of his associates."
Bill Moyers: "And Ralph Reed and others. Jeffrey Birnbaum, who's is the very talented, experienced reporter, follows the money for the Washington Post, used to do it for the Wall Street Journal. He says, let's strip off the illusion. This is not legal bribery. This is bribery in which campaign contributions, which are at the heart of this scandal, are given to a slush fund for incumbents who in turn do favors or the contributors. And you can trace it, the cause and effect right through this story."
Dobbs: "In the same breath as we talk about Tom DeLay, let's listen to what Tom DeLay had to say on the day he announced he would resign from Congress."
Tom DeLay, former Texas congressman: "I am sustained by my lord and savior. When you go through this kind of adversity, I've got to tell you, if you know him and he's on your side, there ain't nothing but joy."
Dobbs: "Nothing but joy."
Moyers: "You know, Lou, if you had invested in hypocrisy eight or nine years ago, you would have retired and given it away like Warren Buffett is doing. I have never seen such rank hypocrisy as I saw in reporting this documentary on the part of Tom DeLay, pious Christian; Ralph Reed, the right hand of God on the cover of Time magazine back in the 1980s; and Jack Abramoff, who, you know, talked about being a good Orthodox Jew, and used religion as the cloak for their plunder."
It should be noted that Time's cover package on Reed was hardly complimentary, including the eerie black-and-white photo treatment. Someone should correct Moyers: the cover appeared on May 15, 1995, not in the 1980s.
Dobbs: "I've got a business friend of mine who says when a man tells you what a good Christian he is -- talking about Christians in this case -- it's time to reach for your wallet. He's talking about it in business terms, but as a nation, the influence of money and power in Washington, corporate power. But in this case, the corruption that has been seeded, it makes McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform look like child's play."
Moyers: "It's just a fig leaf. The fact of the matter is at the heart of this entire scandal is campaign contributions. It's greed but it's the way our system works in which campaign contributions have become an accepted form of bribery."
Dobbs: "Last week, the House Government and Reform Committee released a report showing Jack Abramoff's lobbying team had 485 contacts with White House officials, 80 of those were Karl Rove's office. This from a White House that said that they -- for awhile, didn't even know who he was."
It should be noted that the report found Abramoff claimed 485 contacts, including e-mails he sent. I doubt Dobbs thinks Abramoff is to be trusted on most of his claims.
Moyers: "Yes, time and again the White House press secretary -- then Scott McClellan -- would say, oh, no, you know, we've looked at it. There's nothing really going on there. But we'll get to the bottom of it. They never got to the bottom of it. No, it's all -- these are the fellows, by the way -- Reed, Abramoff, Norquist, Rove. They came to Washington to run a revolution in the 1980s and they wound up running a racket, and they were all tied together. Now, Reed and Norquist have not been indicted for anything, not been accused of anything illegal. But that is, in fact, the heart of the scandal is that you can get away with it without actually committing a crime."
Dobbs: "Well, on Capitol Hill, crimes and the -- we know Bill Moyers will get to the bottom of it. The special is "Capitol Crimes." We thank you for being here, Bill."