Weekly Wire
Nashville Scene Impeach 'Em All

Why stop with Bill when IOC, NBA need vetting?

By Randy Horick

JANUARY 19, 1999:  At first, it didn't appear that the sanctimonious bloviators in our House of Representatives had thoroughly thought through this impeachment thing.

For example, the old boys may have painted themselves into a messy corner by establishing their criteria for removal from office: no lying, no untrustworthiness, and no private behavior that doesn't dovetail with public posturing. Now, if we seriously began applying these standards for officeholders, we'd have a lot of suddenly vacant offices. To avoid a general stampede of prevaricators, fornicators, and weasels, they'd have to evacuate the House in groups, the way you board Southwest flights: "We'll begin removing rows 1-30 now, rows 31-60 in 10 minutes...."

If Clinton is convicted, we'd also have to unhang a lot of portraits of other naughty presidents. From the past 75 years alone, gone would be Harding (adulterer, whoremonger); Roosevelt (liar, adulterer); Eisenhower (adulterer); Kennedy (serial adulterer); Johnson (liar, adulterer); Nixon (not "not a crook"); Reagan (liar); and maybe Bush (depending on whether you count "no new taxes" as a lie or merely a campaign promise).

Almost in spite of themselves, though, it appears that our Congressfolk may have stumbled onto something. Upon further review, as NFL refs used to say in the fondly recalled days of instant replay, there are several other presidents that could use impeaching once the Senate gets through with Bro. Bill.

We might start with Juan Antonio Samaranch, president and autocrat for life of the IOC, the body that governs the Olympic Games. In between globe-circling junkets on the IOC's private jet, Samaranch surfaces every couple of years to pontificate about the Olympic ideals of brotherhood, fair play, and open competition.

It's a good thing these are just ideals--suggesting they're rarely attained--since it now appears that the IOC itself has fallen way short of them. The word now is that the committee has carefully evaluated potential Olympiad sites, then awarded the Games to the cities that lavished the IOC's inner circle with the most imaginative bribes.

Samaranch dutifully denounced this practice when the stories surfaced--until reports filtered out that he had received many of the same gifts as his underlings. On his way to the exit, let's give him some special recognition: a gold medal for chutzpah.

And speaking of pharisaical blowhards, now would be an especially good time to apply a firm boot to the hineys of all those university presidents who speak piously of safeguarding college football against the encroachment of crass commercialism and the taint of big money. Applying a talent for compartmentalization that even President Bill hasn't attained, the university boys can speak with straight faces about the sanctity of amateur athletics even while they're shilling on behalf of the present bowl championship system.

Somehow, their attention must have been averted while the payouts in this year's coalition bowls rose to stratospheric levels: $10 million or more for each participating team. How much has the sport morphed into an entertainment business? When Notre Dame lost to Southern Cal, and thereby fumbled a spot in a lucrative coalition bowl, the defeat wasn't discussed primarily as a blow to the school's pride; it was noted as a $9 million hit to the bottom line.

Likewise, the presidents must have been dozing throughout the (Tostitos) Fiesta Bowl, when it seemed impossible to look anywhere without seeing the name or logo of the game's corporate sponsor. The most uproariously crass moment came at the end when, before Phil Fulmer could receive the national championship trophy on behalf of Tennessee, some camera-hogging suit from Tostitos tried to hand him a bag of chips.

While we're at it, maybe we can find a way to bring off a group impeachment of NBA Players Association president Billy Hunter, NBA commissioner David Stern, and agent-to-the-megastars David Falk.

Finally, last week, the players and owners agreed grudgingly on how to divide the spoils of their $2 billion--that's billion with a B--enterprise when the former essentially capitulated to the unrelenting demands of the latter. (Don't fret too much for the players; they're still guaranteed more than half of the revenue pie.)

The season will be salvaged (though the games are apt to be actively ugly for a couple of months). A champion will still be crowned (though maybe not till July). The fans probably will return (though in a sullen mood). Even Michael may be back.

What can't be papered over, however, is the fact that the key participants in the labor dispute/lockout focused only on their own narrow interests--and were utterly disinterested in the good of the game and of the fans.

Falk, seen as a puppeteer behind high-profile players like Patrick Ewing, was prepared to sacrifice the entire season rather than accept limits on player salaries that in turn would have diminished his own enormous power.

Hunter, who finally bent to the will of his union's rank and file, was willing to tank the season too--and leave rookies and journeyman players to absorb the economic blow--to preserve a structure that ultimately threatened the health of the league and worked to the average player's detriment.

Stern, perhaps the most remorseless, cold-blooded offender of all, was prepared on behalf of his fabulously wealthy masters to 86 the NBA season--and risk irreparable damage to the sport--rather than compromise with the players.

Whatever dishonor Clinton has brought upon his office, he has nothing on this pack of executive bozos whose shamelessness makes you wonder if they've ever contemplated political careers of their own. To astute White House lawyers, their skanky deportment might also suggest a new avenue of defense: Our misguided but innocent president was merely following the example set by our nation's athletic role models.

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