Trusting in Family Values

Even so, the number of red sirloin scraps with Ann's fingerprints all over them is enough to rouse the hounds.

Take the vanishing $1.3 million; throw in the $100,000 in valuables laundered out of Fife's swag and grabbed by his wife; and add Ann's revolving $50,000 fund in 1994 and the $50,000 she dumped to take the entire family on a tour of Europe days before the governor officially declared bankruptcy; frost all of that with some $20 million in worthless loan guarantees from the heiress; take all that together, and you can understand why Ann has hired a rat terrier like Gaffney to keep the big dogs from turning over her garbage cans.

Outside, goblins and ghouls paraded about the plaza on Halloween. Ten stories above the street, in bankruptcy court, Governor Fife Symington tried on a new identity of his own.

Like Old Scratch himself, the governor put up a hell of a show, obfuscating, blowing smoke, even feigning indignation about his $25million bankruptcy.

At 10:08 a.m., Fife Symington raised his right hand and swore before God that he would tell the truth.

Within moments, Governor Symington exhibited short-term memory loss and long-term memory loss.

Fife Symington could not remember who signed on his checking account. He could not remember whether his wife signed on his checking account.

He could not remember whether his inherited trust had ever issued him a check for six figures.

He could not remember whether he had once sold his interest in one of his multimillion-dollar developments for $10.

Wouldn't that kind of loss stick in your mind?
He could not remember for certain whether one of his investors had offered to give up his interest in Symington's Scottsdale Center, for free.

Who can forget such facts?
Ronald Reagan on his worst day, in an oxygen tent, with plastic tubes up his nostrils, was more lucid than the governor of the State of Arizona.

Fife could not recall who wrote out the checks to his own lawyers.
"I'm not sure how they got paid, what they got paid ..." said the governor.
Well, then, did anyone else pay his bills for him?
"I'm not sure," said Symington.

"I have no idea. ... I don't know. ... I just don't remember. ... I don't know how to answer that question."

There have been those in the press who have questioned what the governor's aides do to earn salaries that are among the highest in the nation.

Now we know.
They tell Governor Symington where he left his drool cup.
The bankruptcy hearing was legal pageantry at its most compelling.

The courtroom was packed. More than 100 people jammed the pews while the overflow stood in the rear, leaning against the walls.

The governor's beefy bodyguards surveyed the crowd, looking for the next Lee Harvey Oswald, while Symington himself scanned the courtroom looking for a friendly face.

At last, the governor spied a supporter and bestowed a wink upon the lucky citizen.

If Symington felt isolated, he did not show it. In fact, he appeared bored, having to fight off yawns and stretching his eyes to stay focused.

Citizens who made it into the courtroom will have something to talk about at their holiday parties; they can tell their friends about the tittering Symington's testimony provoked.

The governor wanted it both ways: He hid behind a memory as blank as wiped slate, and yet managed to act insulted at the very idea of questions.

"Perhaps you are trying to embarrass me publicly," Symington told Manning, and people snorted in amusement.

You see, none of us actually believed the governor was a victim of dementia. It was all a charade.

Important people often develop amnesia when they have to put their hand on a Bible.

The truth is, Fife's absent-minded pose was as transparent as Ann's absence.
Eventually, Manning will get his answers.
Nor will Ann remain mute forever.
She is too critical.

After all, no one knows better than Ann Symington what she and Old Scratch have been up to.--Lacey

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