The Enron Debacle

bob schieffer CBS

When Wilbur Mills, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, got drunk and drove his car into the Washington Tidal Basin while in the company of Ms. Fanny Fox, a local striptease dancer known as the "Argentine Firecracker," well, it caused a real scandal.

Roger Mudd, who used to work here, said of it, "The best thing about this story is, it can only get worse."

Well, the bad thing about the Enron story is, it's bound to get worse, too. All the signs are there: Tycoons, looking for government help, destroy documents. We have seen this movie.

Wilbur Mills was a crabby old coot, and it was amusing to watch him make a fool of himself. But there is nothing funny about watching people lose their pensions.

And since Enron had tried to buy off half of Washington with campaign contributions, people here were standing in line last week to say they had no Enron connections.

The White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, who is from New York, got so wound up, he was spouting Texas talk. "That dog won't hunt," he said, when asked if Enron could become a political issue.

Well, a little Texas talk never hurts; it's helped me make a good living. But if Ari is worried that it makes the White House look bad because all those Enron people who gave so much during the campaign are now calling to see if the White House can help them a little, well, here's another thought: Outlaw the big corporate contributions. That way it won't look like the companies are calling in a chip every time they call the White House.

Democrats who took some of those Enron contributions seem a little uncomfortable too.

Maybe they can help in the project.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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