In the film-noir movie "Key Largo," a scheming Edward G. Robinson brags about manipulating an election by continually "counting votes" -- until he reached the proper "outcome." "Yeah," says Robinson's character, "how many of those guys in office owe everything to me? I made 'em. Yeah, I made 'em, just like a tailor makes a suit of clothes. . . . Get my boys to bring the voters out, and then count the votes over and over again 'til they added up right and he was elected."
This brings us to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) head Deborah Platt Majoras, ordered by Congress to investigate allegations of price fixing and manipulation by "Big Oil." Pre-Katrina, the FTC found no evidence of wrongdoing. After Katrina, Congress again ordered the FTC to investigate allegations of price fixing, market manipulation and gouging.
But the FTC again struck out, finding no evidence of collusion. An angry Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., refused to accept the outcome, incredibly suggesting perhaps the FTC, itself, should be investigated for failing to come up with the right conclusion! Check out this insulting and condescending exchange:
Boxer: "I'm very disappointed in this report. I think it's a whitewash, and worse. And we're going to keep working, even if it doesn't involve the FTC. Maybe we need to investigate the FTC."
Majoras: "I'm sorry you're displeased with the FTC. I've never wanted to make this personal, but if you have any doubt whatsoever about my caring, and my empathy, and my background of working class, for the people of America, then I would like to suggest that you spend some time with me, because nobody who works with me doubts that for one second."
Unable to attack the FTC's evidence, Boxer tried a different tack. She accused Majoras of ignoring "the little guy."
Boxer: "So when you talk to working people, what is it they tell you, Ms. Majoras, about the price of gas at the pump?" (For the record, Majoras grew up in Meadville, Pa., a town of 13,000. She says she knew no lawyers, but her father encouraged her to work hard and believe in herself. By contrast, Sen. Boxer lists as her major assets a blind trust worth $1 million to $5 million, a condo in Washington worth $100,000 to $250,000, interest in an Oakland office building, and some stock holdings. In her book, "Nine and Counting," Boxer describes growing up in a "nice middle-class section of Brooklyn," with a mother who "spoke sympathetically of women who 'had to' work.")