Sunday, October 19, 2008

"America's Most Reviled Company"

I have no problem with smoking or people who smoke, which I wrote about last month before Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand's Big Tobacco past was exposed.

I don't smoke. Never have.

I don't cast dirty looks at smokers in public places if their smoke floats into my personal space, either. Or lecture friends and family about the dangers of smoking. People who behave that way annoy the hell out of me.

Cigarettes are a legal product. So is alcohol and the 1,500 calorie hamburger. If you decide to lead a life where you acquire blood type Cheez Doodles Crunchy (which are extra yummie), that's your decision. It's your free will. Have at it.

The revelations about Congresswoman Gillibrand's Big Tobacco past don't concern adults with the ability to make their own decisions, however. Her problem is hypocrisy, deceit and secrecy, which this blog has documented.

Kirsten Gillibrand sits in Congress partly because the people who voted for her in 2006 are nanny Democrats, health obsessives and meddlesome liberals. It's her political base in the 20th Congressional District. She needs these voters.

The Gillibrand base constantly condemned Philip Morris during the 1990's. She recognizes a severe political liability that must be handled. And concealed.

The Congresswoman told the Times Union she became an expert in attorney-client privilege defending Philip Morris. Good. Every attorney should strive to perfect Constitutional rights for a client. Even when the client is the Enron of the 1990's.

"PHILIP MORRIS: What It's Like To Work At America's Most Reviled Company."

That was the title of a 1999 Business Week cover story, which can be read here. It chronicles lie after lie after lie told by Philip Morris executives, including the laughable smoking-is-not-addictive claim they made before a Congressional committee under oath. How they escaped perjury charges is mystifying.

And who was serving the smoking-is-not-addictive crowd? Protecting them? Kirsten Gillibrand.

The Congresswoman had been working for Philip Morris for four years when Business Week published its story. I wonder what she thought about the sleazy details. Like so much about Kirsten Gillibrand's experience with Philip Morris, we'll never know.

Times Union Flogs Rep. Gillibrand

So, Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand's work for cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris, and the campaign contributions she accepted from the corporation's parent, should be dismissed as a non-issue? Right. Today's Times Union:

"The money has all the trappings of an investment in a congresswoman the tobacco industry seems to think still might come around. Yet here's Ms. Gillibrand, trying to dismiss Philip Morris as one more of her 10,000 campaign contributors.

"How many of those contributors have an interest in pending or future legislation? How many are associated with an industry so heavily regulated by government?

"It's hard to gauge what's more troubling — that Ms. Gillibrand says she don't know she was getting money from Philip Morris, or that she doesn't seem to care. There are responsibilities, in either case, that come with raising all that money — more than $3.95 million and counting."