Aside from providing much-needed comic relief, the Call Heard Around the World served some useful purposes. It certainly cleared up a few things. Now we know for sure that Scott Walker has been lying through his teeth all along as he's repeatedly insisted that his bill is all about budget balancing. And we know our governor has a Koch habit.
That Walker picked up the phone in the first place is instructive. He has steadfastly refused to talk to any of the protesters, and he's been unwilling to talk to Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate. But it was a different story when he thought OH MY GOD, David Koch is on the line.
So much for the false pretenses that this is all about Wisconsin and it's all about getting the state's financial house in order. When he thought he was talking to a billionaire right-wing kingmaker, Walker spoke the truth: "This is about public sector unions."
So much for the false pretenses that this is not part of a national crusade to break those unions across the country. When the online journalist posing as Koch said "you're the first domino," Walker said: "Yep, this is our moment." And he said "this is ground zero, there's no doubt about it." He even went on to compare what he's doing to what Ronald Reagan did to the air traffic controllers.
Walker also revealed a positively Nixonian streak when he told the Koch impersonator how he and those in his inner circle had thought about employing dirty tricks like planting troublemakers among the demonstrators. And how he might pretend to be open to talking to Senate Democrats who've fled the state in order to trick them into returning to the Capitol, only to clear the way for his GOP allies to pass his union-busting bill.
At other points in the conversation, the governor showed a troubling willingness to put his conscience in neutral. He spoke of how he had the attorney general looking into whether ethics charges could be brought against Democrats holed up in Illinois, but evidently saw no red flags when the fake Koch said "once you crush these bastards I'll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time." Walker replied: "All right, that would be outstanding."
Koch Industries is a registered lobbying agent in Wisconsin, and it is against the law in this state for lobbying interests to provide such perks to government officials here.
It is also against the law in Wisconsin for government officials to solicit campaign funds on state time in a state office using a state telephone, or to coordinate electioneering efforts with outside interests. Walker told his phone companion that "particularly in some of these more swing areas, a lot of these guys are gonna need, they don’t actually need ads for them but they’re going to need a message put out reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy and a good thing to do for the state."
Finally, just couldn't help but notice how the governor ended the conversation by saying "thanks a million!"
Yep, it was almost exactly a million.