So I says to Oscar the Mayor, I says: What was you thinking admitting publicly the Las Vegas Mob Museum is a mob museum?
Officially it's known as the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. You didn't even give the G-men top billing. Even the Web site winks and adds "a k a 'The Mob Museum.'" So much for the subtle approach.
Maybe you should have given it a more mainstream moniker, like the Las Vegas Pistol-Packing Pioneer Museum, or the Gats 'n' Spats Guggenheim.
You couldn't resist stressing that thing of yours, the mob. In doing so, you violated the first rule of Las Vegas (and Wall Street, for that matter): Never be on the square with squares. Don't treat 'em like grownups. Never give 'em the straight story. Never reveal the real odds. Feed 'em a story line that plays in the Heartland.
While you're at it, make sure your story also plays in Washington, D.C., where crime is so organized you get a secretary and a pension.
That was your first mistake, mayor. Candor.
Now you're paying the big price for it. Because like a bunch of frat boys sobering up after an eight-year kegger, Washington is breaking a fevered sweat to sweep up the shabby state of the union. Politicians are finding religion from the halls of Congress to the Lincoln Memorial, and that means only one thing: Billions for Wall Street and major banks, but not $50 million or even a dime for the mob museum.
Senate Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky recently blasted the mob museum idea with both barrels, saying it had no place in the bailout funds meant to apply battery cables to the exhausted Diehard that is our economy. I can see why McConnell would be sensitive, coming from a party that until a recent conviction boasted a certain Alaska senator who funneled $223 million to his home state for a project later dubbed the "Bridge to Nowhere." Adds political watchdog Web site FactCheck.org, "The bridge was not the only or the most expensive project attached to the transportation bill, and it may not have been the most frivolous. But it became a symbol for government pork."
So the last thing you want to be now that the Senate has sobered up and sworn off the sauce is a symbol for government pork.
Even the mayor's friend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to rub out funding for the mob museum, which surveys show would generate thousands of visitors to downtown.
Is that because it sends the wrong message?
After pushing the American people so close to a Depression they don't have to squint to see the soup lines, now they're worried about the message they're sending from Washington.
So tell me, senators, who are the bigger gangsters?
The Murder Inc. guys who brought green felt and neon to Las Vegas, or the murderous crew at Bear Stearns? They nicked the taxpayer for $29 billion.
American International Group, A.I.G. for short and P.I.G. for sure, was approved for $85 billion in guarantees. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who were stuck with those names because "Bonnie and Clyde" were already taken, absconded with a cool $200 billion -- and didn't even have to draw a weapon.
So I can see how members of Congress are sensitive about being perceived as playing the willing patsy for members and associates of organized crime. Don't want to send the wrong message to the nation's lowly working stiffs. The people might get the crazy idea the Senate and House are wasting tax dollars.
Sorry, Oscar. Your museum caught two behind the ear and was stuffed into a trunk in the name of politics. Maybe you should have called it the Stock Market Heritage Museum. It could have made a score.
The Great American Bailout, which now runs a taxpayer tab of approximately $800 billion with hundreds of billions more being contemplated, makes carnival rubes out of mugs with the names Lansky, Siegel, Giancana, and Spilotro. Goodman's old clients were pikers next to the Wall Street Mob and the Big Bank Crime Family.
Talk about being replaced by a better class of criminal.
It's enough to make a contract killer blush.
John L. Smith's column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith/.