So, if I told you that an 84-year old Senator was on trial for seven felony counts of failure to disclose gifts and home renovations on his Senate financial disclosure forms, and then I told you that he wore a panda tie to the trial, and then I told you that his estranged best friend, now turned key witness for the prosecution, told a wistful story about how the two of them used to go to “boot camp” together in the desert southwest, and walk around eating hardly anything but drinking wine as a weight loss strategy…. you’d probably have to do a mental rewind. You’d ask me to repeat myself, and you’d listen again and then start to think I’d been hitting the wine myself, or at the very least was relating a weird dream in that way you do when you first wake up.
But, you’d be wrong on both counts. This is all very, strangely true. The witness in question is none other than former oil services company Veco’s former CEO, Bill Allen. And Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure really did happen.
“Allen described meeting Stevens for the first time in the early 1980s at fundraisers and events for Republican Frank Murkowski, who was running for the U.S. Senate and went on to a term as Alaska governor. Allen spoke wistfully of their former “close, personal friendship” and how they used to go to “boot camp” in the desert Southwest – where they would walk around, eating little and drinking only wine, “trying to get some pounds off.”
While Allen testified, Stevens looked down at the table, writing. It didn’t appear the two former friends ever made eye contact.”
I don’t know that wandering in the desert drinking wine is the most effective weight loss strategy, but it does get points for creativity….unless the dehydrated alcoholic heat stroke gets you. Ah, the hazards of “boot camp.”
And the panda tie? I can’t explain it. Stevens has been infamous in the past for wearing another tie, featuring the Incredible Hulk (no I’m not kidding), on the Senate floor. That’s when many Alaskans collectively sink down in their chairs with a hand over their faces trying to act like he’s not our Senator. Stevens even has a collection of Incredible Hulk memorabilia in his Senate office. The Hulk is his totem animal. Maybe the panda was meant to metaphorically show the court that deep down he’s just a big ol’ teddy bear? The Hulk can be a bit intimidating, and you could imagine him being in shackles… but a panda? No jury could be that cruel.
Most of the rest of the Stevens trial has been all about…home renovations. Electricians, photos of plugs, blueprints, telephone lines, contractors….kind of a snooze. But Bill Allen definitely spiced things up a bit.
The conversation also turned to some of the unreported gifts that Stevens has received from Allen and Veco: gift baskets, a $30,000 fish sculpture, engraved guns, a sled dog puppy, a generator to save the Stevens’ chalet from potential Y2K issues, and a foot-sewn doll. If you are more convinced than ever that I’m making this up, feel free to check HERE, where they are live blogging the Stevens trial.