Scary White Guys

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Kenneth Lay, CEO of Enron

As head honcho of a leading Texas energy company, Kenneth Lay has aggressively championed the types of energy policies that have burdened California with rolling electrical blackouts. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Lay created a new kind of company as a result of deregulation victories, one that "essentially produces nothing, but makes money as a middle-man buying electricity from generators and selling it to consumers. During the first quarter of this year Enronrevenues increased 281 percent to $50.1-billion."

Lay also represents the most extreme form of the pay-to-play corruption that dominates American politics. The largest of Bush's campaign contributors, his influence has reached unprecedented heights. According to The New York Times, he has even supplied Bush with candidates to regulate the power industry, and has threatened to have the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission removed if he opposes deregulation.

Tom Delay, House Majority Whip

Tom DeLay approaches regulations like the cockroaches he faced as an exterminator (his former career). It took Congress 10 years to pass legislation protecting the 600,000 workers who develop repetitive stress injuries each year. It took Delay three months and millions of big business dollars to repeal it.

DeLay has worked tirelessly to gut the Clean Air Act. He's called the EPA "the Gestapo of government," and he thinks volcanoes cause global warming. Described in Rolling Stone as Bush's legislative muscleman, DeLay leads by "killing or neutering anything that deviates from right wing orthodoxy. DeLay's vision of America looks like Houston on a bad day: ruled by corporate fat cats, polluted, gridlocked, a place where progress is measured by the size of your SUV and freedom is defined by a choice of tee-off times."

Sandy Weill, Chairman of Citigroup Greed is maybe more understandable in the world of finance. But when legendary dealmaker Sanford I. Weill, chairman of Citigroup, bought Associates First Capital for $31-billion, he was basically saying there is no money too dirty for him. Associate First Capital is notorious in the field of predatory lending, which takes advantage of unsophisticated homeowners. It has been named in at least 700 lawsuits. As Martin Eakes, founder of Self-Help Credit Union, says, "It's simply unacceptable to have the largest bank in America take over the icon of predatory lending."

Citigroup engages in high-interest lending in low-income communities across the nation, and has long been a target of protest because of its redlining practices. Citigroup is also financing some of today's greatest environmental horrors, such as the destruction of Indonesian rain forests, the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline and China's Three Gorges dam, which will displace 2-million people. "Sandy Weill is responsible for immense ecological and human disasters because Citigroup, as a huge global lender, finances so much destruction," says Shannon Wright, communications director at the Rain Forest Action Network.

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

As the bellicose head of the Defense Department, Donald Rumsfeld is in the position to do massive harm, as he aggressively pushes for a National Missile Defense (NMD) system — a redux of the Star Wars boondoggle discredited way back in the Reagan days.

Let's be clear here: Such a missile defense system won't work, isn't needed and is hugely expensive. However, Rumsfeld needs to push it because it makes his friends and funders at Boeing,Lockheed-Martin,Raytheon, TRW and the other defense companies very happy. (Those four have contributed $7-million to both political parties, spent $32.3-million lobbying, and — surprise! — have received NMD contracts to the tune of $2-billion per year. Nice return on the dollar.)

But Bush and Co. want a huge new system, which would include a space-based, laser-firing satellite system. The cost: $240-billion. That's pretty expensive for something that won't make us safer but will make defense contractors rich, at the expense of seniors, education, health care, the whole nine yards.

Lee R. Raymond, CEO of ExxonMobil

Raymond heads the world's third-largest corporation, which earned more than $17-billion in profits in 2000, exceeding many nations' revenues. So when Raymond questions whether global warming exists or if fossil fuels play any role in it, people shudder. Because ExxonMobil's attitudes and policies impact virtually everyone.

ExxonMobil carries the big club for the Neanderthal wing of the fossil fuel lobby. According to author Ross Gelspan, it is the only major oil company to deny climate change, using outdated, manipulated and unqualifiedinformation.British Petroleum, by contrast, has become the largest producer of solar energy systems in the world. Even Shell and Texaco have also made progress. ExxonMobil hasn't.

John Walters, Drug Czar

With John Walters as our new Drug Czar (backed by arch-conservative John Ashcroft as attorney general), expect a marked escalation of the hugely unpopular drug war. While Canada is moving toward legalizing marijuana and six states have passed medical marijuana bills, Walters will likely head federal drug policy back into the Stone Age.

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