Alibi V.14 No.15 • April 14-20, 2005 

Thin Line

Our Banana Republic. Politics can be a downright pitiful exercise in nepotism. In New Mexico, the latest obvious example was a bill sponsored at the Legislature by Reps Dan Silva and Kiki Saavedra that was championed by their sons, who both happened to be lobbyists for the cause.

Of course, hooking up a family member with some government gravy is as familiar as blue skies in New Mexico. But it doesn't stop here.

Hell, our president, by any reasonable measure, was no different than your average booze-addicted 40-year old until he got learned in the hard facts of the Lord and, more importantly, started calling in favors from his dad's friends as far off as Saudi Arabia. Trent Lott, the former Republican Senate Majority Leader, has been hooking up his son's lobbying firm in Washington for years. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's son Michael is chairmen of the FCC, appointed by George W. The list is as long as your arm.

But perhaps the worst offender is Vice President Dick Cheney.

At this very moment, Cheney's son-in-law Philip Perry is awaiting confirmation from the Senate to become the top lawyer at the Department of Homeland Security. Once the GOP-controlled Senate confirms him, Perry will leave behind a partnership at the Latham & Watkins law firm, where he represented Lockheed Martin in Washington. That's right, good ol' Lockheed Martin, one of Homeland Security's top 10 contractors and the company that paid the veep's wife, Lynne Cheney, $120,000 a year to serve as one of its board members.

But that's not all. Dick and Lynne's daughter Elizabeth, who is married to Mr. Perry, was recently appointed the second-ranking U.S. diplomat for Middle East relations by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice even though, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week, Ms. Cheney's background "includes no known experience of Middle Eastern or North African affairs."

As for Mr. Perry, he brings the experience of winning hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts for Lockheed Martin to his new role as a public servant.

Revelation. Last week, and for the first time in years, an alternative newsweekly has earned a Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting, with the award going to Portland's Willamette Week. The story emerged as a sexual abuse scandal, with an ex-mayor being caught in a carnal affair with a 14-year-old babysitter, 30 years after the fact. The story told of the emotional scar it left on the woman throughout her life. The series became more notable, however, when the reporter exposed the coverup behind the affair and the fact that Portland's morning daily knew about it first and did nothing to report it.