Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Mumbrage: The most melodramatic drinking game on The Hill

Oh! The Draaaaama! Have you recovered, yet, Brian? I'm not sure that I have. Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've probably heard that the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney (or "BM," as I've come to know him) presented himself to the Commons Ethics committee for an exhausting 3 1/2 hours on Thursday. As with the Schreiber testimony (Nov 29, Dec 4, Dec 6, and Dec 11), your friendly neighbourhood kitty took notes. Too many notes! I hope you find them useful: I've added links to documents, articles and references to Karlheinz Schreiber's testimony.

You can find my notes at my not-so-live-blog "Foul Deeds," in twelve parts:
  • Part I: "It was like a near-death experience," except it wasn't
  • Part II: I'll be on the couch, since you're already on the Cross
  • Part III: International Man of Mystery
  • Part IV: It was all very sophisticated
  • Part V: "Winnipeg in January? Now, that's downright nutty!"
  • Part VI: A perfectly legitimate businessman
  • Part VII: The Conservative Godfather v. The Johnny Come Lately
  • Part VIII: "You've been very generous with your taxes"
  • Part IX: Comartin brings it!
  • Part X: Never ask a man 'how big' it was
  • Part XI: "I had a wife and 4 children, and a mother to support"
  • Part XII: "Clean as a hound's tooth"
Ugh, wasn't it bad enough to live with him for 8 yrs--I gotsta seez him puff & blow & point on teh TV, too? As Heather Mallick said, it was downright excruciating. His blowhardiness knew no limits, and I've taken significant pains to document each and every spit-take and eyeroll-worthy comment he made. In fact, as I noted in Part II ("I'll be on the couch, since you're already on the Cross"), I really wish that I had proposed a Mulroney Drinking Game: Take a shot whenever BM says "my family" or "international(ly)."

Contradictions and admissions to oily-oozy-sleazy behaviour are noted in blue-text as "Whoops!" or "Oopsie!" to draw your attention to the low-lights of BM's testimony. Check-out this testy exchange with Thibault, par example:
Thibault (LPC): did the money go through the law firm, the two subsequent amounts?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: they didn't go through the law firm (Whoops!)
Thibault (LPC): thank you...
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: (annoyed) No, just a minute! I negotiated a provision w/the law firm that would allow me to deal with this kind of matter in the manner that I did. It was an exception...
Thibault (LPC): thank you
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: it was a single exception to the partnership rule.
Thibault (LPC): thank you, I appreciate your brevity. You were working for Thyssen internationally--did you report to Thyssen on the work that you did, either in written reports to Thyssen or to Mr. S?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: not in written reports, but to Mr. Schreiber, yes. (Whoops x 2)
Thibault (LPC): did you make notes of your progress?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: yes
Thibault (LPC): can you provide them to the cmte?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: no, I can't provide them to the cmte today. (Whoops x 3) It was some 14-15 yrs ago.
Thibault (LPC): In your deposition, in lawsuit against gov Canada, on pg 98, question 276, you said you've never had a bank acct outside Montreal, and never have. How do you explain that?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: It was a safety deposit box. (Whoops x 4)
So: the Schreiber money went into BM's 'international' consulting business, but he's destroyed any record of these transactions (or work completed in exchange for the cash). And the cash sat in safety deposit boxes. Nice, huh? And it got's the BQ's Ménard (and, later, chairman Szabo) with more fun-with-missing-documents:
Ménard (BQ): did you keep track of your "professional work?" (*snerk*)
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: (annoyed) yes, I said so.
Ménard (BQ): yes, you did speak about it, but you had some accounting, some time-sheets?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney:
no, I didn't have any accounting, (Oopsie!) [...]
Ménard (BQ): that's what I'm trying to had 75K in cash in a safety deposit were travelling. Did you regularly get money from that (box) to get money for the trip?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: no, not at all, I used my credit card. When I was travelling internationally. As you know, as a lawyer in Montréal, I was travelling for a number of clients, so I used my credit cards, and at the end, I assigned a very modest percentage of that to Mr. Schreiber's acct. The rest I kept either for the office or for myself.
Ménard (BQ): did you keep track of that? Any notes on the amount you attributed? Where did you write it down?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: I kept it in the records I had w/me, I gave a file to Mr. Yeltsin...(Huh? We have to go dig up Boris to find out?!)
Szabo (chair, LPC): referring to the safety deposit box in your home, but you also referred to a ledger you were keeping? You have a written ledger?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: no, that was 15 yrs ago. As soon as the tax issues were resolved, I disposed of those documents. (Major Oopsie!)
Comartin managed to get BM to repeat this particular confession, later in the hearing. Aside: it must be said that Comartin and Ménard really served us well on Thursday. Thibault, too. No showboating or hammin' it up for the cameras (*cough* Pat Martin *cough*). Just short, sharp questioning. But lest any Konservatives try to persuade you that this was a partisan "feeding frenzy"--a phrase BM used ad nauseum on Thursday--here's CPC Ralph Reed Russ Hiebert evincing yet another confession from the Man without a Past:
Hiebert (CPC): when Mr. Schreiber provided that money, did you give him a kind of receipt?
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: no, I didn't, in fact, he didn't even indicate to me---he told a newspaper that, when he gave it to me, that I had no idea what the amount was or the denominations were--and he told someone else on TV that he's a European businessman and that's how transactions were done...and that's essentially what he told me, so I had no idea. (Whoops!)
That's right: no receipt or invoices for services rendered to Schreiber. None. Never. Not ever. This grand, 'International' Man of Mystery businessman couldn't issue an invoice against his retainer? Why the hells not, if it was 'perfectly legitimate business?' It beggars belief. In fact, it's so literally incredible that even Conservative hack Mike Wallace returned to the receipt question, later in the hearing (and got the same answer, but with added Mumbrage --Mulroney umbrage):
Wallace (CPC): so you've provided him w/no receipt and he's asked for absolutely none.
Rt. Hon. B. Mulroney: that's correct. He was satisfied w/the full report I gave him--over an hour!--at the Pierre Hotel in NYC. And he said, "this is tremendous initiatives, hard work, visiting these heads of state..." (Oh, *puke* enough with the Yeltsin meetings, already!)
And so it went. The Mumbrage. The hurt puppy looks. The dramatic readings from newspaper clippings (e.g. the Schreiber loves me/He loves me not sequence for Del Mastro). Yes, our former PM clearly fancies himself quite the ac-TOR:
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite
jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a
thousand times, and now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is!
My gorge rises at it.--Hamlet Act 5, scene 1, 179–188
But, perhaps most cringe-worthy of all were his repeated allusions to his poor family--teh wife! teh kidz! This grew quite tiresome and, I can't imagine how you coped, sir:
Well, he had enough money to be able to buy a mansion at 47 Forden Cres. in upper Westmount, the richest part of the richest Montreal neighbourhood, for $1.675 million. And then he and Mila proceeded to spend at least $700,000 fixing up the home, which includes an indoor swimming pool.
To top it off, the "broke" Mulroney managed to find a job within days of stepping down as prime minister, returning to one of his old employers, the Montreal law firm of Ogilvy Renault. The salary wasn't disclosed, but you can bet it meant he was no longer poor.
Ok, I will grudgingly concede that Mulroney testified that he was not in critical financial trouble post-PM (e.g. in his exchange w/Murphy). But would you believe he actually had teh ballz to liken his tribulations to a: (1) "near death experience," (2)"long and painful nightmare," (3) "catastrophe," and (4) "calamity?" He practically begged the committee's pity. And as Mulroney is wont to do, he went too far...he actually asked the cmte to remember the story of a little boy named James Moore and that wicked witch "errant MP" who accused him of watching teh pr0n. I shit you not:
Last week, a fine young parliamentarian had his reputation assaulted, when a fellow MP made damaging allegations about him in the HOC. Within minutes, this story was across the country, particularly in BC, where he lives, works and represents a constituency in the HOC. His reputation was damaged, his credibility affected, and his integrity challenged. [...]Fortunately, the errant MP soon apologized and withdrew the false allegation. But the damage was done. But what happens to you if there is no prompt withdrawal (like, the rhythm method?) and you are forced to fight on frequently for years and at enormous emotional and financial cost to defend yourself and your family against this accusation? What happens to you? And your kids? (your kids?! They go to Harvard and/or host crappy knock-off reality shows?) Twelve years ago, my reputation, legacy and family honour were almost destroyed on the basis of false information conveyed to the Swiss government.
Yup. That's our B2theM: classy-to-the-max!

Well, before I leave y'all to read the details, I want to take a sec to direct your attention to Impolitical and Curiosity Cat--they've done some truly excellent boiling-down to brass tacks, pointing out contradictions and sniffing out the more putrid or dodgy statements. Andrew Coyne had an impressive post about this, too. So...until February, eh? Think of teh kidz! ;)Photo credits: Icanhascheezburger (melodrama & cruel world)


Blogger Unknown said...

As with the Schreiber testimony (Nov 29, Dec 4, Dec 6, and Dec 11), your friendly neighbourhood kitty took notes. Too many notes! I hope you find them useful: I've added links to documents, articles and references to Karlheinz Schreiber's testimony.
i like cats
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5/16/2012 10:54 PM  

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