OK, pseudo-intellectuals, it's time for news.
The price of oil is at an all-time high. Conservationists are complaining big oil companies want to ravage pristine public lands in an ignoble quest for profits, Meanwhile, fat-cat lawyers and lobbyists are spending huge sums of money to elect their favorite politicians and ensure policy decisions go their way.
Sounds like a story from today's front-pages. But that just shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
It was 1920. Republican Warren Harding was running for president, and an oil man and scoundrel, Jake Hamon, had a grand plan that would result in one of the great political scandals in American history - Teapot Dome, a tale of bribery, corruption and deceit involving oil leases on public lands that were suddenly and mysteriously transferred to powerful oil men.
Hamon, who planned to be the Secretary of the Interior in the Harding administration, never got to see his vision become reality. He was murdered by his mistress after the November 1920 election but before Harding took office. Too bad. He would have made great copy.
But Hamon wasn't the only colorful character in this tale. It's loaded with them, and that's why "The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the County" is the latest recommendation from Jim's Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club.
The title is a tad overstated. All oil men weren't involved, and they weren't trying to steal the country. A few oil men were trying to steal a tiny part of the country with a lot of oil underneath it.
It's a rip-roaring tale of political and financial intrigue that occurred right under the nose of President Harding, who wasn't interested so much in being president as he was poker, golf and women. Sensible chap.
At any rate, oil men made a deal with Secretary of Interior Albert Fall. They got the leases they wanted, and he got a whole lot of money.
But the deal smelled from the beginning. Soon, the newspapers and the Senate were investigating. It's time-consuming hard work to track down the bad guys, and the investigation led by Montana's Democratic U.S. Sen. Thomas Walsh is another story in itself.
If you like politics and you like scandal, this is a book for you. There's even a few mysterious deaths thrown in.
Here are the previous recommendations from Jim's Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club.
[-] "Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission" by Hampton Sides.
[-] "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris.
[-] "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord.
[-] "April 1865: The Month That Saved America" by Jay Winik.
[-] "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" by Laura Hillenbrand.
[-] "Lindbergh" by A. Scott Berg.
[-] "The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963" by Laurence Leamer.
[-] "The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case" by Sam Roberts.
[-] "Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy" by Jane Leavy.
[-] "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions" by Ben Mezrich.
[-] "Harry & Ike: The Partnership That Remade the Post-War World" by Steve Neal.
[-] "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis.
[-] "Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone" by Martin Dugard.
[-] "In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors" by Doug Stanton.
[-] "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34." by Bryan Burrough.
[-] "Flags of our Fathers," by James Bradley.
[-] "Cary Grant: A Biography" by Marc Elliot.
[-] "Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager" by Buzz Bissinger.
[-] "Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York" by Kenneth Ackerman.
[-] "They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967" by David Maraniss.
[-] "Flashman" (a novel) by George MacDonald Fraser.
[-] "Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and A World on the Brink" by David Margolick.
[-] "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics and the Battle for the Soul of a City" by Jonathan Mahler.
[-] "Five Families: the Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires" by Selwyn Raab.
[-] "The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and the Golden Age of Basketball." by John Taylor.
[-] "American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies" by Michael Kauffman.
[[-] "The Looming Tower: al-Qaida and the Road to 9/11" by Lawrence Wright.
[- ) "A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports" by Brad Snyder.
[-] "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis.
[-] "The Education of a Coach" by David Halberstam.
[-] "Arc of Justice: A Sage of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age" by Kevin Boyle
[-] "The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived The Great American Dust Bowl" by Timothy Egan.
[-] "The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case" by James Neff.
[-] The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House" by John Harris.
[-] "FDR" by Jean Edward Smith
(-) The Unlikely Spy (a novel) by Daniel Silva.
(-) "Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal" by Ben Macintyre
(-) The Interpretation of Murder (a novel) by Jed Rubenfeld