Film: Casino Jack and the United States of Money

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May/June 2010 Issue

Five years on, the Jack Abramoff scandal seems like a distant memory. But the new documentary from director Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) portrays the rise and fall of the right-wing superlobbyist as a colorful prologue to the new era of unrestricted corporate campaign cash.

Casino Jack traces Abramoff’s early career as a College Republican alongside Ralph Reed and Karl Rove, as well as his farcical turn as the producer of an anti-Soviet action movie. The humor wears off when he arrives on K Street in the early ’90s, shilling for sweatshops in Saipan and extracting enormous fees from Indian tribes. By the time Abramoff hires a lifeguard to front a company that will launder millions in kickbacks, you have to at least admire his ambition. The film skims over the unraveling of Abramoff’s empire, but Gibney is clear that his downfall didn’t end the corruption. Abramoff’s exploitation of the system was unprecedented, but he didn’t invent it.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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