By Al Kamen
Friday, October 10, 2008
Lots of law firms, consultants and lobbyists have been working to advise their increasingly frantic clients as profits and balances quickly tumble.
We were among about 300 recipients of this e-mail from mega-law firm Mayer Brown just after the administration proposed its $700 billion bailout of Wall Street and before the first House vote shooting it down. The Sept. 25 invitation said:
Government Bailout: "View From the Hill"
Two Mayer Brown Partners, former Congressman David McIntosh and [Senate] legislative counsel Carolyn Osolinik, have been advising senior Treasury and White House officials and Congressional Leaders on critical elements of the . . . legislation and related issues of interest. These consultations have included Treasury Secretary Paulson's office and key members and staff of the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee.
Please join David and Carolyn for a question and answer session about the legislation during a 30-minute conference call on Friday. We will also host an update call on Monday September 29 . . . to address additional developments over the coming weekend.
That sure sounded like something worth putting on the schedule. But then, the next morning, came this:
CANCELLATION and CLARIFICATION: Government Bailout -- "View From The Hill." We will not be hosting this teleconference today. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause and hope that you will be able to join us for future events as part of our Credit Market Distress teleconference series.
In connection with a statement in our earlier announcement, some have asked if Mayer Brown is providing legal counsel to government officials, including the Treasury Department, the White House, and various members of Congress. In fact we are not. Moreover, we have not received from any government officials non-public information about the legislative proposals. As always, we are advising our clients and in doing so, we are in communication with various government officials.
Res ipsa loquitur.Warming to the Other Side
John McCain hasn't been making it a habit of late to play up his old support for action on climate change, but he stunned some conservatives last week when he said that, if elected, he would "tap" none other than Al Gore for some role in environmental matters.
In an interview with Reuters, McCain was asked if he'd be up front in international talks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. McCain said he would do "whatever is necessary to try to move forward." He said he would involve Gore in that effort. "I would tap him, I would tap people who have been involved in these issues for many years," McCain said. McCain told Reuters he disagreed with Gore about nuclear energy but added, "I have great respect for Al Gore."
Hey, then he'd have the whole Gore-Lieberman 2000 ticket with him!One Fridge Sticker at a Time
Speaking of the environment, just because there's only three months left in the administration doesn't mean top officials aren't setting ambitious goals to make the country, even the world, a better place before they leave town.
Take this e-mail we got Wednesday from Environmental Protection Agency chief Stephen L. Johnson.
"This month, through the Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR campaign, EPA is helping consumers make smart energy choices that are good for the environment and good for their wallets," Johnson said in an e-mail to all EPA employees. "This campaign builds on the success of last year's, which inspired more than a million Americans to switch at least one traditional bulb in their home to an ENERGY STAR-qualified one," which is much more energy-efficient.
The agency is "reminding people that a cleaner, brighter future starts with each and every one of us," Johnson said, and that "one action at a time, we can reduce our energy use and make a difference for our shared environment."
We can replace old appliances with energy-efficient ones, turn down thermostats when we're not home and set computers to sleep-mode when not in use. "These are simple actions with tremendous impacts. If every American household took the ENERGY STAR pledge, as a nation we'd save more than $18 billion in energy costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to more than 18 million cars, every year," the e-mail said.
"I encourage each of you to do as I have and take the ENERGY STAR Change the World pledge at www.energystar.gov, and together we can change the world," Johnson said.
And it's a heck of a lot easier than granting California and many other states the ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars.Bubba to the Rescue
Bill Clinton, fresh from his Florida trip and no longer touting John McCain's merits, appears to be getting additional speaking assignments from the Obama campaign. He stepped in at the last minute to sub for Joe Biden at two fundraisers in New York Monday after Biden's mother-in-law died. (The former president got the call on Sunday.)
We hear it's Pennsylvania on Sunday and then Roanoke and Richmond. Later on there's Ohio and Nevada, with more to come.
Brazil seems to be an increasingly popular place to find lawmakers and government officials these days, touring, sightseeing, making contacts, sometimes even working. Outgoing Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez and seven -- that's seven -- staffers, including his chief of staff and assistant, a senior policy adviser, and the deputy director of public affairs, are today wrapping up a quick trip down there to talk to business leaders and some government officials.
Gutierrez, et al., took off Wednesday night for Rio de Janeiro to be there in time yesterday to give what was billed as the "keynote" address at an American Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Then it was off to Sao Paolo for another meeting and to co-chair the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum. Then another overnight flight to return tomorrow morning.
We declined to recommend the trip -- and give everyone a chance to sign up -- because: (1) It was too short; (2) too much overnight flying; and, (3) not enough time in Rio.
On the other hand, there was no stop in the dreadful capital, Brasilia. So maybe it would have been worth it if you really wanted to schmooze a lot of Brazilian business leaders for your post-government work, but surely one night on Ipanema could have been worked in.