Look out — here comes Jack, trying to jack us around again.
Jack Abramoff, the über-corrupt K Street lobbyist who turned his name into a synonym for sleazeball, is now out and about. Out of prison, that is, running all about the country in a narcissistic celebrity redemption campaign.
Yes, Jack wants to turn his personal sleaziness into fame, cash, sympathy ... even admiration. "The hope is I can use my natural infamy in a positive way," he recently told the New York Times.
Positive for whom? Why, for himself, of course. That's why this ex-con now has a publicist, literary agent, lawyer, producer, Facebook page, website, Twitter feed and all the other accoutrements of the modern fame game.
Abramoff has already published a book about — what else? — himself. He's been all over the TV-talk show circuit, talking about himself. And he's available (for a fee) to give motivational speeches based on the life experiences of — guess who? — Jack. Now, there's a feature film in the works, and he's pitching a reality TV show, both about himself. In fact, Self is Jack's middle name (though he'll still answer to Sleazeball).
Even with all the attention he's getting, there's a whininess in Abramoff's rebranding effort. He seems to think that he's some sort of victim. "All I want," he says, "is for people not to see me as this cartoon monster."
Come on, Jack, try that whine on those Indian tribes you duped into your lobbying operation just a few years ago. You pocketed millions of dollars in fees from them, did nothing to help them, then privately mocked them to your guffawing cohorts as "losers," "monkeys" and "troglodytes." You still owe them $40 million. That's pretty monstrous.
Abramoff couldn't clean the sleaze off him with a king-sized can of Comet and a wire brush, much less with a public-relations campaign.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.