"I hate to ask you for your help with something so silly but I've been nominated for membership in the Cosmos Club, which is a very distinguished club in Washington, DC, comprised of Nobel Prize winners, etc.," Abramoff wrote. "Problem for me is that most prospective members have received awards and I have received none. I was wondering if you thought it possible that I could put that I have received an award from Toward Tradition with a sufficiently academic title, perhaps something like Scholar of Talmudic Studies?"Wow, that is crooked to the core. Abramoff, who is an Orthodox Jew, got a rabbi to lie and falsify his credentials so he could lie and say he's a recognized Jewish scholar? All to impress people? Oy vey.
There were titters in the audience as Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) read aloud the e-mail, then outright laughter as he continued reading: "Indeed, it would be even better if it were possible that I received these in years past, if you know what I mean."
The rabbi, conservative radio host Daniel Lapin, gave his blessing. "I just need to know what needs to be produced," he wrote. "Letters? Plaques?"
"The point of all of this," Dorgan said, "is there's a lot of deception going on."
In three hours yesterday, Dorgan and John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, quizzed witnesses on what the lawmakers described as an elaborate web of fraud and greed -- "even by Washington standards," as Dorgan unkindly put it.
There were phony grass-roots Christian groups. Phony billing statements. Nonprofits with phony purposes. And, perhaps phoniest of all, a "premiere international think tank" called the American International Center, directed by two boyhood friends of Abramoff partner Michael Scanlon: yoga instructor Brian Mann and lifeguard-cum-excavator David Grosh. Mann refused to answer questions, but Grosh, who never consulted a lawyer, was happy to tell his story.
Besides the blatant ripping off of Native American tribes and referring to them as "troglodytes," "monkeys," and "stupid mofos," which is certainly bad enough, apparently Abramoff didn't do much of anything by the book and he liked to suck his friends into his many scams. So Abramoff's coziness with Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist, and Ralph Reed is going to make for a very interesting on-going investigation. I can't wait!