Sheer Negligence

Former Republican Senator John Danforth, who is both an heir to a Missouri jackass-feed fortune and an Episcopalian preacher, hasn’t announced whether he’ll engage in the charade of explaining to Arthur Andersen’s learned accountants that they can’t just go ape-shit destroying audit documents when a client goes bankrupt.

Andersen was the auditor of Enron, the $80 billion energy company that collapsed after forking over political contributions to George W. Bush. The pencil pushers told Congress last week that they wanted Danforth to give them a refresher course in bookkeeping, with an emphasis on the second syllable.

The firm is no doubt seeking a gentle chiding like the one Danforth gave the FBI regarding Waco: “It’s very important that we as a country do not create a mindset where mistakes are just intolerable and where they’re so unforgivable that the natural reaction is ‘I’m not going to let you know about them.'”

Also last week, John Ashcroft announced that he wouldn’t be the man to prosecute Enron’s alleged crimes or supervise anyone who does. That’s because Enron CEO Kenneth Lay and his minions gave Ashcroft $57,000 toward his losing Senate bid against Mel Carnahan‘s corpse. Someone besides Ashcroft will have to handle the case.

Of course, Ashcroft and Danforth have more history than a fossil bed. Ashcroft learned how to be Missouri attorney general as an assistant to Danforth, and this time last year, Danforth shepherded Ashcroft through his U.S. attorney-general confirmation hearings.

Danforth may want to pass on this lost cause. Andersen is likely to get a far better lesson in accounting from the stockholders who file suit after losing their life savings in the Enron collapse.

Speaking of lawsuits: Just last week, Frederick’s of Hollywood sued Andersen, claiming it failed to record a $22 million surplus of merry widows and teddies allegedly stockpiled by former Frederick’s CEO Teresa Patterson. The negligee glut apparently drove Frederick’s to bankruptcy.

What does it take to get Andersen to pay attention?

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