January 14, 2011



Does everyone deserve a lobbyist?
by Jim Hightower

I went to law school for a week and a half, so I know that everyone accused of a crime, no matter how awful, has a right to be represented by a lawyer. But does everyone have a right to a lobbyist?

Lanny Davis seems to think so. The former spinmeister for Bill Clinton left the White House to become a high-dollar influence peddler for corporations. Recently, however, Davis' client list has gone from merely corporate to — as one of his adversaries calls it  — "almost unseemly tawdry."

Start with those profiteering college diploma mills that were exposed last year for pressuring prospective students (often low-income people struggling to get ahead) into paying through the nose for degrees that have little value. Davis is their front man in Washington.

Lanny's also the lobbyist for an outfit that makes fatty-acid additives for baby formulas sold to poor families. The stuff is little more than a marketing gimmick that let's formula makers claim that their artificial concoction is "closest to human milk" ˆ but Davis got Congress to keep subsidizing the scam.

Then came Laurent Gbagbo, the dictatorial thug of Ivory Coast. He lost a November presidential election that he expected to win, but he simply refused to leave office, clinging to power by military force. Condemned worldwide, Gbagbo didn't seem to have a friend in the world — until Lanny Davis agreed to help him "seek a fair hearing" in the court of public opinion. The price of Lanny's friendship was $100,000 a month. But this one was even too stinky for him, so he later withdrew, explaining that the thug wasn't taking his advice.

Davis spins his work as a noble calling, asserting that everyone deserves a voice. Yes, but avaricious corporations and tyrants already have excessively loud and abusive voices — why represent them, rather than giving voice to the people they harm?

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Copyright 2010 by Jim Hightower & Associates
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