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"Congratulations, Rehabilitated Politicians!" – Debate Finalist Charles Gianinni’s After Dinner Speech
charles gianinni 11
October 23, 2009

Thank you and good evening,

I’m honored to be here and to take part in this celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of The Center for the Rehabilitation of Disgraced Politicians.

Over the last quarter century, the center has done all in its power to fulfill its mission and, I quote from the bylaws, “to give every public servant whose name has been slandered by the media a second chance at success.”

As many of you know, the center was founded in the wake of the resignation of President Richard Nixon, or as his friends knew him “Tricky Dick,” with the goal of ensuring that such verbal sodomy from the mainstream media befall no other politician without his having some shot at redemption.

And I have to say, the center has been remarkably successful at accomplishing that goal. Whether they have helped regain their office, or just get a multimillion dollar book deal, they have ensured that every one of these men and women get a second chance. And I would like to take a moment, to reflect on some of my personal favorite stories of redemption.

First I would like to take a look at the center’s most recent case—that of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, whose story is a favorite of mine. Mr. Blagojevich was elected Governor of Illinois—the first Democrat governor since 1972. He was the people’s champion. However, he was removed from office because of accusations that he tried selling President Obama’s vacated senate seat—Which Apparently is against the Rules!?! Who knew—well anyway, since his removal, Mr. Blagojevich has become a new man—thanks to the center’s efforts. He has been on every major news and talk show—nearly had a reality show on VH1—and starred in a musical. Not to mention he just landed a multimillion dollar book deal. So congratulations, Rod—You’re Back!

Next I would like to look at the infamous case of former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. Mr. Barry was the people’s champion in D.C—he has the longest tenure of any D.C. mayor, and has done some remarkable things during his time in office—including leading a major drug crackdown across D.C. Now, being the mayor of a large city such as D.C. is obviously a very stressful job, so in an effort to relax, Mr. Barry checked into a hotel room with his girlfriend and some substances to help him unwind. Little did he know there was a camera in the room, and it was a sting operation—and this came to that and he was arrested for the possession and use of crack-cocaine. For this slight lapse in judgment Mr. Barry was sent to prison for six months. Outrageous, right?

After his incarceration, he immediately came to the center and, thanks to the Center’s efforts, Mr. Barry was reelected by the people of Washington, D.C., in 1995, just three years after finishing his prison sentence for the possession and use of crack cocaine. It’s a beautiful story; it touches my heart every time.

Now I would just like to take a moment and look at the case that has given the Center for the Rehabilitation of Disgraced Politicians its incredible reputation. The Case of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is here so frequently he actually has his own bed in the center. Mr. Berlusconi has been Prime Minister of Italy on three separate occasions from 1994 to 1995, from 2001 to 2006, and from 2008 to now.

During his tenure, the longest tenure of any G8 leader, he has had some extraordinary conduct that you can only see in Italian politics. Let me give you some examples. Once, as an election strategy, he announced that his party’s female candidates were the most attractive. He was recently divorced by his wife because she was tired of claims that the 72-year-old prime minister was having “affairs” with 18-year-old girls. He claims that Benito Mussolini “was a benign dictator who did not kill his opponents, but sent them on holiday,” and defends his claim that the Communists ate children. He has gone on trial for corruption six times (but never convicted) and is currently under investigation for the exploitation of prostitution after some “questionable” pictures surfaced of him, the Czech prime minister, and 11 naked prostitutes. Now, while Mr. Berlusconi may make a few too many decisions from below his belt—he is ultimately a good man just looking to spice up the mundane nature of politics. So keep it up Silvio, nothing has been able to stop you so far—and the center will be there to help you every step of the way.

As my address draws to a close—I just want to say, keep it up everyone. Every politician deserves a second chance, whether he tried to sell political office, used crack cocaine, or engaged in orgies with fellow leaders and prostitutes, they are all people and all make mistakes. So let’s make sure that the Center for the Rehabilitation of Disgraced Politicians’ next 25 years are better than the last.