In the essence of saving time, there have been a number of people that I have taken an instant dislike to, whether I’ve met them in person or not.
Not coincidentally, many political and sports figures seem to occupy a special pantheon in my aforementioned group.
Our junior senator from New York, for example, whom I’ve long believed was Stephen King’s inspiration for the Senator Stillson character in his book, “The Dead Zone.”
And pair her inclusion in that list with any number of today’s pampered and overcompensated athletes who refer to themselves in the third person, like the Leon the quarterback parody in those Bud Light commercials.
But that’s fodder for another column.
But over the past two years, my animus for former Enron Corp. chairman Ken Lay “buries the needle” on my personal dislike meter.
Since Enron imploded in a mammoth corporate scandal, 21 former employees of the company have been indicted, including those who toiled dangerously close to Lay, such as chief executive Jeffrey Skilling and chief financial officer Andrew Fastow.
For those needing a quick refresher course, Enron collapsed when it was discovered that the company — once among the 10 largest in the country — deftly employed a series of murky special purpose entities to mask billions in debt and artificially pump up profits like the Goodyear blimp.
The ensuing debacle cost thousands of former Enron employees their retirement nest eggs and resulted in the demise of Enron auditor Arthur Andersen.
But justice may be on the horizon.
Prosecutors are expected to ask a federal grand jury to indict Lay, and if all is holy, have him join his former colleagues as a guest of the government for the ensuing two decades or so.
And, with a straight face, Lay’s barrister — one Michael Ramsey — rhetorically asked reporters in Houston the question of the year, if not the century: “Indict him for what?”
This legal genius was unclear as to exactly what prosecutors could charge Lay with.
By now, Lay should have, ahem, accumulated enough wealth to retain counsel a bit more grounded in reality.
Okay, let’s start with a series of million-dollar trades he made before the company went belly up, basically lying to the investing public and analysts about the condition of the company. And we won’t even bring up Enron’s complicity in the energy mess in California.
Schadenfreude is a phrase that seems to have gained traction in recent years. Literally translated, it means “a malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others.”
It’s safe to say thousands of former employees will experience schadenfreude at the sight of Lay donning prison denim. Thanks to him and his former colleagues in the Enron executive suite, it’s about all they have left.
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