In the last five years, Jack Abramoff has been rightfully vilified as the pinnacle of unscrupulousness in Washington politics. Alex Gibney's riveting documentary, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, authoritatively exposed the former lobbyist and his cohorts as thieves and charlatans.
Yet in 2012, here we are in the era of Super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited corporate money to trump up or smear candidates, and of shadowy political contributors who invoke their cloaking device known as the Citizens United court decision: So what's a little bilking and lying and tax evading?
Abramoff, formerly the most powerful lobbyist on Capitol Hill, will presumably tell us when he visits to speak about his autobiography, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist.
The book exposes the widespread graft and palm-greasing that oils the engine of Washington politics. Some people, like Abramoff and Ohio Congressman Bob Ney, get busted. Abramoff did three and half years in a minimum-security prison; Ney received a two-and-half year sentence. Yet untold others get away—the Teflon Texas Republican, Tom DeLay, deflated from House Majority Leader to a running joke on Dancing With the Stars, nonetheless stayed out of jail. Should we feel sorry for Abramoff? Nope. But in retrospect, his corruption seems almost quaint. The free reading starts at 7:30 p.m. —Lisa Sorg