Corruption

I swear on it, as I get older,
Corruption's in the eye of the beholder,
The bribes that make us good guys blench
Supposedly are always French.
In Italy such things are rife,
In India a way of life;
The Dutch succumb but play it dumb,
The Germans do it, looking glum.
The Greeks in smoke-filled rooms at night
Pass out back-handers as of right.
And possibly it's just the Swede
Who contracts sign without the need
To grease the wheels with some amount
Placed in a Zurich bank account.

Alas! this image is misleading,
A little bit of special pleading.
You can't sell to a Punjabi
To a Saudi or to Abu Dhabi
Or other Middle Eastern lands
Without some baksheesh changing hands.
It would be irrational
To think a multi-national
Could grow so plump and rich worldwide
Without some fiddle on the side.
Nor are large commercial bribes
Confined to Northern Afghan tribes.
No, studies have shown that where they can
The culprits are American.
They play the game, and that's for certain,
Which brings me, friends, to Halliburton.

Come, come you say, we don't condone
Such accusations, or your tone.
Our business virtue is unmatched,
We're honest, open, straight, detached.
We never bribe, and furthermore
To do so is against the law.
Think of our values, they're so great
It's difficult to contemplate.
And, sotto voce, you might mutter
"Only aliens dabble in the gutter."

So how come Halliburton scoops
All TV dinners for our troops,
And as the monstrous debits mount
They seem incompetent to count?
How come our President is willing
To overlook their over-billing
Of everything from ice to rice
Which others sell at half the price?
How come the greatest land on earth
Believes some Kuwaiti oil is worth
Twice what Iraq's already found
So plentifully beneath the ground?

Oh cry it not in Babylon
Or in the blessed Pentagon,
Or in the corridors of State,
Or in the Senate in debate!
But entre-nous, twixt you and me,
In any land beyond the sea,
Its Press and public would erupt
With charges that the deal's corrupt.
The problem is our amour propre
Can't cope with facts we don't deem proper.

The fact is that the rotten core
Is the dumb revolving door
Which allows some third rate party hack
To switch to industry and back
Making quite indecent sums,
When out of power, from greedy bums
Who reckon when the wheel has turned
They'll make a zillion times what he has earned
With little clauses placed sans fuss,
Attached to laws called "omnibus",
Bills which none have time to read
So dense they are with pork-filled screed.

So let us brutally lift the curtain
On Cheney, late of Halliburton.
First, as Secretary of Defense,
He scarcely sat upon the fence,
But privatised whole swathes of jobs
So private companies could rob
The taxpayer, unsupervised.
Well, are you really that surprised?
The men, paid more, all won
With military discipline undone.
And good 'ole boys with their cigars
Who inherited from their papas,
All thanked the Lord and thought it cool
They'd gone to Richard Cheney's school.

And just guess who obtained most biz?
Why, our Dallas chums, good friends of his.
No sooner done, well waddya know?
He turns up as their CEO.
Smart move! A justified reward
For fixing such a fine award.

But, wait a sec, you gotta bet
Our Dick's in no way finished yet.
Five years and murky millions pass,
Then Florida, that electoral farce,
At last, ambition scarcely spent,
He's named as the Vice President!
Oh joy! Oh Rapture! (whoops! A pun)
And soon the real fun had begun.
For, loyally he says he's found
Weapons of Mass Destruction all around
Covering the Fertile Crescent.
Wrong? Yes, but Saddam wasn't pleasant.
Which, all the same, can't justify
The imperative of Dick to lie.
He has his way, the war begun,
(Draft dodgers have the greatest fun.)
And then in quiet anticipation
Of cash from this sad operation,
Halliburton is awarded
The blankest check to be afforded.

But never fear, I'll place a bet
We'll see more of Dick Cheney yet,
And when at last he's voted out
His resting place is not in doubt.