Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is terribly, ridiculously, cartoonishly corrupt. After 40 years in the Senate you're either a little corrupt or a lot corrupt, and Ted chose option two, knowing that even the very corrupt rarely pay a price. But now the 84-year-old American Hero is on trial! All because he never reported hundreds of thousands of dollars of gifts from the oil industry and local Alaska businessman friends! The trial is already nearing a sad end, so let's remember the good times. Like this exchange from yesterday, in which Ted explains that a $2,695 massage chair that a local restaurateur gave him was not a gift.
Prosecutor Brenda Morris, toward the end of her cross-examination of the senator yesterday, settled in for a long discussion about the chair, which Alaska restaurateur Bob Persons bought for Stevens as a gift seven years ago — but which Stevens never reported on his Senate disclosure forms. "And the chair is still at your house?" Morris asked. "Yes," Stevens conceded. ad_icon "How is that not a gift?" "He bought that chair as a gift, but I refused it as a gift," Stevens explained. "He put it there and said it was my chair. I told him I would not accept it as a gift." "Where is that chair now?" "In our house," Stevens repeated. "We have lots of things in our house that don't belong to us, ma'am."
The Stevens defense so far rests on convincing a jury that people kept giving him gifts because they liked him a lot. Testifying to that was Colin Powell, who was a character witness for Stevens (maybe someone convinced him Stevens is black?).