Staying in the Cosmos Club during our trip to DC for the Computerworld Awards was a kind of special (and perhaps out-of-time) experience for us. But it was something else for Republican conman Jack Abramoff. During the Senate hearings into his defrauding of various Indian tribes (and others), email between Abramoff and a conservative religious leader turned to awards and to the Cosmos Club as the Washington Post reports:
“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?”
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.”
Sadly Abramoff sounds like the three friends — lion, scarecrow and tinman — who visit the Wizard of Oz and leave changed forever by their awards — medal, certificate and heart. The difference is of course that the three friends had shown that they were brave, intelligent and compassionate during their trials and adventures. Abramoff does not.
A follow-up email from Abramoff (not in the Post but from Seattle Post Intelligence) shows a more desperate and more resourceful Abramoff:
The next day, Abramoff to Lapin: “Probably just a few clever titles of awards, dates and that’s it. As long as you can be the person to verify them (or we can have someone else verify one and you the other), we should be set. Do you have any creative titles or should I dip into my bag of tricks?”
No one has reported whether Abramoff was admitted to the Cosmos Club or not.