06 July 2006

[us_news] Ken Lay Is Dead...Or Is He?

My God...They've killed Kenny...you bastards!

It's no secret that Ken Lay, potential source of future income for a flock of legal eagles, has shuffled of this mortal coil, ironically avoiding sentencing on that Enron spot of bother.

In some cases, someone once told me, death can actually be a smart career move.

The medical examiner in the county where he expired has publicly stated, with no equivocation, that it was advanced coronary disease. Later it was disclosed on the TV that he had a 10-year history of heart problems.

But there's just something so–well, timely–about the demise that it couldn't stop tongues from wagging. Did he know too much? Did he decide to take the quick way out rather than spend the rest of his life in prison, sparing his family? We find it ironic that while Mr Lay wasn't noted for exhibiting any symptoms during the rather stressful trial, whereas his attorney was sidelined with heart complaints. So, was it a set up?

We think not; we're willing to believe that he really did legitimately pass on. Oftentimes things that look like a conspiracy only look that way. But we notice a certain undercurrent of conspiracy-talk that just seems to us to be louder than usual, garnering commentary in various major news organizations. We find this amusing–darkly so, to be sure, but amusing nonetheless.

Our guess is that it's public cynicism and bitterness writ historically large. Your mileage may vary.

But perhaps the most amusing note, casting an almost surreal light, comes from the rapid-fire updating of the Wikipedia entry on Ken Lay. MSNBC filed an online story about the whole imbroglio, but here's a thumbnail (all times Eastern):
  1. 10:06 AM–death was "an apparent suicide".
  2. 10:08 AM–death was "apparent heart attack or suicide".
  3. 10:08 AM–cause of death "yet to be determined".
  4. 10:09 AM–"no further details have been officially released".
  5. 10:11 AM–"The guilt of ruining so many lives finaly led him to his suicide".
  6. 10:12 AM–"According to Lay's pastor the cause was a 'massive coronary' heart attack".
  7. Right Now–"While vacationing in Colorado on July 5, 2006, Kenneth Lay died from coronary artery disease. The Pitkin Sheriff’s Department confirmed that officers were called to Lay’s house in Old Snowmass, Colorado, near Aspen at 1:41 AM MDT. He was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:11 AM MDT."
Here's to Wikipedia: shedding the cool light of unintentional absurdist humor on our darkest moments. Good job, guys.

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bloghog said...

I wonder, with the conviction of Ken Lay, will his Horatio Alger Honor be revolked?

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Actually, that's a good question.

The conviction certainly can't be erased from history, even if it gets abated (that's the actual legal term, we understand) due to his demise.

His history as a poor youngster who grew up to become an energy industry titan can't be denied as well. He did come from humble beginnings. Just imagine what he might have done if he'd turned that ambition to something better.

One thing's certain; when gross corporate screwups happen, the tought of Lay won't be far from many people's minds. That sort of reputational damage may take more than a generation to repair...

...but then, the American people are today more credulous than ever before, so I wonder.