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Case Number 23595: Small Claims Court

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Bill Moyers: Capitol Crimes

Acorn Media // 2006 // 313 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // March 31st, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge P.S. Colbert has too little capital to commit Capitol Crimes.

The Charge

"Tom DeLay is who all of us want to be when we grow up."—Jack Abramoff

"What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs."—Grover Norquist

The Case

The spectacular and sordid tale of lobbyist's lobbyist Jack Abramoff gets a detailed accounting in Bill Moyers: Capitol Crimes, guaranteed to get your blood boiling, regardless of your ideological slant. Leftists will burn with self-righteous anger as they watch the Republican party of Ronald Reagan getting obscenely wealthy by lying, cheating, and exploiting the hard-working innocent, while steaming right-wingers will fume and denounce this as yet another biased hit-piece coming from the Liberal mainstream "drive-by" media.

No matter which side of the Fox News network you fall, you'll be hard pressed to look away. Moyers doggedly follows the money trail from the 1984 Republic National Convention to re-elect Reagan (where Abramoff made his national debut, speaking as Chairman of the College Republican National Committee) to senate hearings twenty years later, where a pale, shivering Abramoff repeatedly stammers while pleading the fifth amendment in lieu of answering pointed questions.

This report, which originally appeared as an October 2006 segment of the PBS series Moyers On America, methodically charts Abramoff's progression from campus conniver to ultimate GOP insider with all stops along the way; sweat shops in the northern Mariana Islands; Hollywood; St. Andrews golf course in Scotland; Russia; and the tribally-owned gaming industry which earned him the nickname "Casino Jack," and ultimately brought him down.

It would be remiss of me to give away the "juicer" elements of the case—bolstered by archival footage, participant interviews, court testimony, and a flurry of revealing e-mails between Abramoff and his associates—but I can tell while Abramoff has served his jail sentence and is now on his book publicity trail, touting himself as a "reformer" of lobbying practices, those early practices continue unabated. Tellingly, the program concludes with Moyer's grim voiceover: "Business goes on as usual…"

As if to prove it, Moyers and company offer us a second disc of bonus material.

• "Buying the War"—Originally broadcast in April 2007 as an installment of Bill Moyers' Journal, this 83-minute episode deals with the run-up to America's 2003 invasion of Iraq. As the title implies, the laser-focus of the piece is not aimed at Bush-bashing, but rather the complicity of "mainstream media" aid in rallying American support for the effort.

• "A Conversation with Historian and Writer Andrew J. Bacevich"—A one-on-one sit-down with the noted conservative writer, taped during the heat of the 2008 presidential campaign. Bacevich, a professor of military history at Boston University and a retired career Army officer, speaks frankly about his opposition to the current American combat assignments and his gloomy predictions of change coming to Washington.

• "A Discussion with Mother Jones Contributor Kevin Drum and Washington Bureau Chief David Corn"—This journal entry from 2009 brings things back-to-front with a spirited discussion about Wall Street's accountability deficit. Definitely not for thin-skinned one-percenters.

These standard definition full-screen transfers are beautifully polished to a tasteful sheen, just as one would expect from product carrying the Moyers name. Likewise, the Dolby 2.0 stereo audio brings forth these important conversations loudl and clearl. Plus we get bright and easy to read English SDH subtitles for those who require them.

The antithesis of popcorn entertainment, this collection of Bill Moyers gems is best digested in bites; too much at one time may lead to ulcers. Audiences brave enough to hit the play button, be careful. You may actually learn something.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 95

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 313 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Booklet


• Bill Moyers Journal
• Moyers on America

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