You may have heard that the Pentagon recently awarded a $35 billion contract to produce fuel tankers for the Air Force to a partnership of Northrop Grumman and EADS -- the European aerospace consortium that makes planes under the Airbus brand -- instead of Boeing. That decision caused more than a bit of consternation on Capitol Hill, especially from members who have Boeing production facilities in their districts (just a coincidence, I'm sure.) This week, House speaker Nancy Pelosi went a step further by laying the blame for Boeing's failure to win the contract at the feet of John McCain:
My understanding is that it was on course for Boeing before. I mean, the thought was that it would be a domestic supplier for it. . . . Senator McCain intervened, and now we have a situation where the contract may be - this work may be outsourced.
And how, exactly, did Sen. McCain "intervene"? The Financial Times describes what Pelosi was apparently talking about:
The air force originally chose Boeing to supply it with 100 tankers. But Congress cancelled [sic] the deal after it emerged that Darleen Druyun, a former top air force acquisitions official, had held illegal job discussions with Boeing while still negotiating the deal. Ms Druyun admitted boosting the value of the deal to help Boeing.
Mr McCain has pointed to his aggressive investigation into the Boeing deal as evidence that he is willing to stand up to powerful corporate interests.
The tanker scandal claimed the career of former Boeing chief executive Phil Condit. Ms Druyun and Mike Sears, Boeing's former chief financial officer, were sent to jail.
So, Boeing officials tried to corrupt the tanker acquisition process and got caught. And Sen. McCain is to blame for helping to uncover that corruption.
If you had to distill down to essence everything that's wrong with the current congressional culture, that summary would be a good place to start.