Hollywood

Casino Jack: Homo Conman Politicus

December 21, 2010

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As Hollywood’s drug of choice morphed from cocaine to anabolic steroids, Abramoff went home to co-write and produce the 1989 movie Red Scorpion, in which Dolph Lundgren (Ivan Drago in Rocky IV) played a Soviet agent in Africa who turns anti-communist and teams up with a Savimbi-like freedom fighter.

After 1994’s GOP sweep, Abramoff was hired by Preston Gates & Ellis, a Democratic-leaning Washington establishment law and lobbying firm. (The “€œGates”€ is Bill Gates Sr.) Abramoff brought in more vibrant sorts of clients such as the North Mariana Islands, a U.S. dependency that needed GOP House Whip Tom DeLay’s help in keeping its immigration scam going.

Both Rezko and Abramoff found the diversity racket to be easy money. Yet Rezko is neither black nor Muslim; he’s a Syrian Christian. Rezko used Jabir Muhammad, son of Elijah Muhammad (who presumably had Obama’s boyhood hero Malcolm X assassinated in 1965), as his front man to win minority set-aside contracts.

And Abramoff is”€”most likely”€”neither Native American nor Micronesian.

Seven Indian gaming tribes paid Abramoff $85 million to bribe Congress into denying casinos to rival neighboring tribes. But only a little went into politicians”€™ pockets. Abramoff instead routed casino money to Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, to gin up an Astroturf anti-gambling campaign to scare the Indians into increasing Abramoff’s retainer.

Abramoff sluiced much Indian wampum into his increasingly grandiose and delusional philanthropies, such as buying two giant Zamboni machines to smooth the ice on the hockey rink he never quite got around to building at the Jewish boys”€™ boarding school he”€™d founded.

The phrase “€œperformance-enhancing drugs”€ doesn”€™t come up much in Casino Jack, but the simplest explanation for Abramoff’s over-the-topness may be that he was out of his head on steroids.

The pudgy Spacey, however, does not work out every day, so his performance, while verbally brilliant, lacks the visceral impact expected in today’s shape-shifting Hollywood. Unlike, say, Natalie Portman in The Black Swan or Christian Bale in The Fighter, Spacey hasn”€™t contorted his body and risked his health in hopes of an Oscar.  I have a hard time holding that against him.

 

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