by  Michael Hammerschlag



The Kenny Boy Lay and Jeff Skilling conviction was gratifying, but neither lowlife should ever see the light of day again. In the Great 2000-2001 California Energy Robbery, a group of 6 power companies, led by Enron, through manipulating power production, raised rates up to 90 fold. California people and firms were paying as much in a day for electricity as they had in 3 months (Market Manipulation-CBS), threatening to shutdown the world's 6th largest economy. Then in a breathlessly audacious scam, the Republicans (who had probably helped engineer it to punish California for voting 12% more for Gore) managed to use the 3-fold higher power contracts Gray Davis signed with a gun to his and the state's temple... to depose him in an unprecedented recall and replace him with the Terminator.

Arnold quickly agreed to reduce the $9 billion refund of the theft, getting much less in a devils bargain with the power companies, ordered by the Lay-selected FERC chairman, Pat Wood. "Soon after Schwarzenegger took over from Davis, he signed off on a series of deals with Reliant, Williams Company, Dynegy, Entergy and the other power pirates for ten to twenty cents on the dollar. Enron paid just about nothing."-Greg Palast  "The energy crisis cost the state as much as $45 billion over two years in higher electricity costs, lost business due to blackouts and a slowdown in economic growth, according to the Public Policy Institute of California."-CBS Newsª


Another massive crime, still unearthed, was probably committed by Kenny Boy and participants in the meeting of the famous secret 2001 Cheney Energy Task Force. There, they no doubt discussed the desirability and feasibility of invading Iraq, and the oil bonanza it could produce (a negative 25% one after 3 years). If this came out it would have scuttled the long planned invasion (by the Project for a New American Century), hence Cheney’s desperate successful efforts to keep it draped with the veil of secrecy.

I discussed this in my piece END of BUSH's ROHYPNOL HONEYMOON?-  onlinejournal  April 2001
---"The Enron palm-greasing (lifting price-gouging controls on power) has devastated the California economy and bankrupted PG&E, which since all things roll downhill from California, will percolate malignantly through the rest of the economy. Bush may get the full scale recession he's been promoting. The bankruptcy bill payoff to credit card companies (his largest contributors) has a particularly bitter irony coming from a man who would have been forced into bankruptcy three times without rich family "friends" eager for the cachet and influence of the Bush name. He directly financially benefits from most of his legislation, just as he did in Texas. In these billions of dollars of sleazy corporate payoffs, Mr. Bush has in only two months become the most corrupt President in American history."---

And from Bush's Wanton War Oct 2002- "In his first act as President, Bush cancelled the Clinton cap on exploding California energy prices (up to 100-fold increases, by criminal price fixing among generators)- as a result Enron’s revenues ballooned from $25 billion in first half 2000 to $100 billion in the same period 2001- even assuming a justified doubling in prices- still $30 to $40 billion in criminal windfall profits ripped from the pockets of voters who had given his opponent a 12 point victory and handed to his biggest contributor. This shockingly corrupt and unreported act is still the iceberg that might sink the Bush administration." (Note: All of Enron's numbers were, of course, lies, but even if a third as much, it's still shocking levels of corruption.)

There were other reasons for the shortage: the San Onofrio nuclear plant was down for a year for maintainance, hydro plants reduced by drought, California laws locked them into self-destructive policies, and usage was 30% above any comparable previous period- some have called it the perfect storm... but the triggering event for the monstrous price rises was the conspiracy to shut down perfectly healthy plants. At Duke Energy, prices were jacked up 130-fold:
Johnson, who was a mechanic at the South Bay plant for more than 20 years, supports what state investigators say happened across California — units were shut down unnecessarily in order to shrink the supply of electricity... Johnson also claims Duke ordered maintenance shutdowns even though he didn't have the needed parts... Ed Edwards knows why they had to wait for spare parts. A supervisor ordered him to get rid of them."

This California Energy Robbery was the first impeachable offense Bush conspired in (now 5 more*), and let's be clear about  what was involved: 

Raising prices:

1-3 fold is business
4-9 fold is price gouging
10-19 times is organized crime
20-40 times is massive institutional political corruption
90 times is terrorism and treason

We were close to invading Arabia in 1973 because OPEC raised oil prices only 4-fold. But when the crooked corrupt electricity cartel robbed California blind by raising prices up to 90-fold, the US government, via the FERC (whom Lay had helped appoint), sat on its hands. Enron, the other power companies, and their many confederates in the Republican Party committed economic terrorism against the people of California (13% of US GDP at $1.55 trillion) and therefore America. The fact that Republicans were able to avoid any blame and even use it to overthrow the Democratic Governor while the mainstream media slept, set the pattern for all the horrors to come of the Bush regime.


*Monstrous transfer of wealth + destabilizing the economy with tax cuts for the rich and corporations; Invading Iraq based on lies, Ignoring 750 laws by Presidential signing statements, Promulgation of Torture throughout military in contravention of Geneva Convention, Massive criminal phone spying on citizens

Robert Parry's Bush's Enron Lies - Common Dreams long
ª Only CBS reported specifics of the Cal. Energy Robbery when it happened, and often were the first or only news agency reporting Administration dishonesty or scandal.... another reason Dan Rather was crushed.

Michael Hammerschlag's commentary and articles ( have appeared in the Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Honolulu Advertiser, Capital Times, MediaChannel; and Moscow News, Tribune, Times,  and Guardian. He explored the Cheney shooting, broke the first comprehensive story on media mistakes in the 2000 election, spent 2 years in Russia as the empire collapsed, and has covered 2 Presidential campaigns.