Nice suit. (Steve Helber /Associated Press)
Nice suit. (Steve Helber /Associated Press)

It’s all about the name brands.

Black Rebecca Minkoff shoes;
Black Louis Vuitton shoes;
White Louis Vuitton shoes;
Cream Louis Vuitton purse;
Cream Louis Vuitton wallet;
Silver Rolex Watch engraved with “71st Governor of Virginia“;

According to Tuesday’s indictment, these are just a few items that would be forfeited if former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are convicted. The list of items appears on page 42 of a riveting roller-coaster of a read, along with thousands of dollars of cash and more merchandise from a golf shop than you can shake a pair of Foot Joy golf shoes at.

This is why they say you should give experiences, not gifts. Well, this may not be literally why, but gifts are more embarrassing when they appear in list form at the end of an indictment.

Then again, even experiences (like riding in a Ferrari) come at a certain cost.

There are lessons buried in here, somewhere between the yellow Peter Som dress, blue Armani jacket and two matching dresses, two Gold Oscar de la Renta dresses, black Louis Vuitton rain coat and gold Oscar de la Renta sweater. Be nice to the mansion cook, for one. That’s how the story began leaking. Don’t place too much value on the wrong brands, for another.

The list of gifts is stunning. It’s a roll-call of designers. I challenge Rue La La or Gilt Groupe to do a McDonnell-gift-themed sale. Something for him, something for her, something for the kids.

The one brand whose value has plummeted? McDonnell. Even if he wins in court, it seems difficult to picture a sunny political future.

It seems like just yesterday he was rebutting the State of the Union.

What was it he said then? Ah yes: “Government should have this clear goal: Where opportunity is absent, we must create it. Where opportunity is limited, we must expand it. Where opportunity is unequal, we must make it open to everyone.”

I guess the opportunity for trials for questionable dietary supplements to be pushed on the state of Virginia was missing before the governor came along. And the opportunity for Bob McDonnell to drive a Ferrari and wear an engraved Rolex was limited, and he did expand that.

If we believe the testimony of Jonnie Williams of Star Scientific (I guess Crony Magic didn’t have the same ring), he was lavish in his gifts. Free golf. Free dresses. Free rides in a jet. It’s like the old joke: “We could accept perfume, jewels, dresses, handbags, vacations, cars — but never money.” Of course not. No gifts of money. Just thousands of dollars of clothes and some paperwork-free loans.

Now the former first couple of Virginia seems to be arguing that it was just a friendship that got out of hand. Why do none of my friendships ever get out of hand this way? “Stop, friend! Stop giving me all these free luxury goods!” is a sentence I have never yet had to utter. Maybe if I became governor of something.

Maybe it won’t wreck his life, just his career. Maybe the jury will decide that Maureen McDonnell was the primary driver. But it all comes down to putting the wrong value on names. Oscar de la Renta. Louis Vuitton. To quote Macklemore, “Yo, that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.” More than that, if the indictment holds. That’s thousands of dollars — and your family’s career in public service — for some fabric and a label. Whatever happened to Pat Nixon’s cloth coat?

The indictment runs for pages and pages. The sheer amount of work involved in getting free gifts is stunning. Years of flying back and forth, hosting dinners, delivering speeches, buying stocks, hiding stocks, popping supplements — for all that effort, you might as well work for it.

Or in the end there you are, on the wrong end of 43 pages of indictment.

$140,805.46;
Black Rebecca Minkoff shoes;
Black Louis Vuitton shoes;
White Louis Vuitton shoes;
Cream Louis Vuitton purse;
Cream Louis Vuitton wallet;
Silver Rolex Watch engraved with “71st Governor of Virginia”;
Yellow Peter Som dress;
Blue Armani jacket and two matching dresses;
Two Gold Oscar de la Renta dresses;
Black Louis Vuitton rain coat;
Gold Oscar de la Renta sweater;
One pair of Amelia Rose earrings;
One Gear sweatshirt;
Two pairs of Foot Joy golf shoes;
One button-down Ralph Lauren shirt;
One white Peter Millar golf shirt;
One baby blue striped Peter Millar golf shirt;
One royal blue Peter Millar golf shirt;
One aqua Fairway Greene Tech golf shirt;
One white striped Ralph Lauren golf shirt;
One Ping University of Virginia golf bag;
One Ping Kinloch golf bag;
One Sun Mountain Notre Dame golf bag;
Two sets of golf clubs;
One Heather Mackenzie water color and frame;
Two iPhones;
30 boxes of Anatabloc®

Yes, don’t forget the 30 boxes of costly supplements.

Jackets, dresses, clubs, sweaters — what’s the point? The only value on those jackets is the name. And now, there goes McDonnell’s.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.