Andrew Allentuck

Monday, May 19, 2003

Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption Are Undermining America
by Arianna Huffington
Crown, 2003,
275 pages
ISBN 1-4000-4771-4

Arianna Huffington is a brainy, beautiful columnist for top American newspapers. She once led the Cambridge Union in debate as president of that eminent institution. She has a gift for phrase.

Condemning fourth estate colleagues in her quip that "by-lines became buy-lines," she accuses CNBC talking head Maria Bartiromo of leaking companies she would mention on air to, which promptly pimped said companies for the edification of day traders and thus drove up their prices.

In "Wacko in Waco: The Brunch Bushians Drink the Kool-Aid," she blends David Koresh and the Rev. Jim Jones, author of the mass suicide of 800 deluded followers in Guyana a few decades back, concluding that the followers of the incumbent president have a holy trinity of "more tax cuts, less regulation, and more domestic energy exploration." Cute structure, for sure, but there is no surprise in the conclusion.

Ms. Huffington condemns mutual funds in "Corporate Crime's Narcoleptic Giant," for not voting their shares to control errant companies. She is absolutely right, but the trend is changing and there should be fewer cases of giant fund management companies staying with losers like Global Crossing, the bankrupt undersea cable firm from which founder Garry Winnick extracted hundreds of millions of dollars of personal benefits before the network of useless capacity crashed.

Pigs at the Trough is summer reading, a batch of memorable one liners, nothing too deep, nothing challenging, but lovely to read and, in parts, luscious enough to make you want to move your lips pronouncing Ms. Huffington's puns. This book is more flake than fact, but porcine insults aside, it is great if brief entertainment.