By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
If you're an avid consumer of Enron-trial coverage, you know the name Charles Prestwood. The 67-year-old Conroe resident has become the official go-to guy for reporters seeking outraged quotes from former minions of Ken Lay.
We never knew quite how busy he was until we read a story on the business Web site www.thedeal.com, which outlined just how often he's stepped up to the plate and kvetched about the $1.3 million he lost in retirement funds after 30 years with the company. If he has a motto, it should be God Bless Google.
When The Deal called Prestwood, the former pipeline operator happily noted it was his 97th interview. Hair Balls tried to be the big Number 100 when we called a few days later, but sadly we were only 99. We learned, however, that Prestwood is one sound-bite fiend; he's got the folksy accent and patter down, and he knows what buttons to push.
Q. Why are you doing all these interviews?
A. My goal is set, I want everybody on the face of this earth to hear my story After it's all over I can say I gave it a good fight, just like the apostle Paul.
Q. Have you talked to any famous reporters?
A. I've talked to all the famous reporters. All of your big-time names in New York, Good Morning America, I've been on everything.
Q. Just American reporters?
A. Heck, I've done interviews [with media from] Belgium, England, Japan, Germany, France. There was a group of Japanese that came over here right after the bankruptcy and they wanted to interview me 'cause they seen me on the Senate hearing. I said, "Sure, c'mon." Part of them got lost trying to find my house. The one that could speak English called, I got 'em straightened out and they came over. A few weeks later they sent [the story] to me in Japanese and I looked at that. I sent that to [my] law firm and said, "This is one of my better interviews."
Q. What's the dumbest question you've been asked?
A. "Why didn't you diversify?" That's a dumb question, especially when you look at what you're making [with Enron stock when it was flush].
Q. What's the best question?
A. "Do I think Ken Lay is guilty?" [and] "Do I think Jeffrey Skilling is guilty?" It'd be easier to convince the Jewish people that Adolf Hitler didn't commit the Holocaust than to convince me them two guys are innocent.
Holocaust references? Maybe Prestwood still has some fine-tuning to do in getting his message out. Rated E for Everyone
Nick Lampson's campaign office was quick to capitalize when his opponent, U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, sent out a letter to constituents basically saying he'd really sort of never heard of this Jack Abramoff guy.
Lampson's team sent out a blast e-mail that began, "There's an old saying here in Texas: Don't spit down my back and tell me it's raining."
To which we thought: Huh? We've lived in Texas a long time, and we've never heard anyone say that. "Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining," sure. "Don't piss in my boots," yeah. But "Don't spit down my back"?
"Well, that's the cleaned-up version," says Lampson spokesman Mike Malaise. "The actual version, I didn't think we could get away with using."
What bullspit, man.
The Spirit of Giving
Last week we noted the lavish gift expectations of Bridget Hilliard, wife of mega-preacher I.V. Hilliard of the New Light Ministry. The church is putting on a 50th-birthday celebration for her, and its Web site helpfully listed such gift suggestions as handbags from Gucci and Louis Vuitton or certificates from Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue.
Church officials didn't respond to our efforts to find out more about Hilliard's pricey taste, but after the story came out, they posted an explanation on the Web site. It turns out the church is simply -- as any ministry should do -- helping folks in need. "Every year, we get numerous calls from people who love Dr. Bridget and want to know what types of things she likes and what she would prefer for her birthday," the new message states. "This year, since it is her 50th birthday and we are planning to have a grand celebration the inquiries escalated. In an effort to make it easier for those who have decided to purchase gifts and decrease the number of calls to our staff, we have provided a list of suggested gift ideas."
The message says "You are in no way obligated to purchase these items" and that "whatever gifts [Hilliard] receives will be greatly appreciated no matter the amount."
Site visitors can then click through to the gift list. Which remains unchanged. As does the $100 ticket price for attending the event.
But there is one more additional effort to help the poor: The site now states that if you can't afford a ticket, you can just mail your gift for Hilliard to the church.
They are bending over backwards, people.
Now it's your turn.