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The AIG Hearing's First Victim

Today's AIG hearing in the House has claimed its first victim: Zippy Duvall.

Duvall, president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, was minding his own business this morning as he walked down a corridor of the Rayburn House Office Building outside the hearing room where a committee was probing the AIG bonuses. Suddenly, he was surrounded by lights, television cameras and microphones.

"Are you ready for this hearing?" somebody shouted.

"Do you think they're going to treat you fairly?"

Duvall stopped to chat amiably with the mob of reporters. "If I knew I was going to get all this attention, I'd have gotten my hair cut," said the farm bureau president, who is almost completely bald.

As the questions continued to fly, one of Duvall's farm-bureau colleagues shared a thought with his suddenly-popular boss: "I think they think you're somebody else."

It was of course, a case of mistaken identity. Duvall, as it happens, bears not even a passing resemblance to AIG Chairman Edward Liddy. If the lack of Liddy's white hair didn't give it away, surely the peanut-print tie and the farm-bureau lapel pin should have. "We're here to represent farmers," Duvall explained as the questioners began to disperse.

But there's a mob mentality in the Rayburn building today as scores of journalists and photographers compete for a glimpse of AIG's much-maligned chairman, scheduled to take his turn at the witness table just after 1:15 p.m. As soon as one cameraman began to follow Zippy Duvall, all the others, fearful of missing the crucial image, joined in the chase.

Duvall, for his part, put the Georgia Farm Bureau on record as opposed to the AIG bonuses. "It's absurd," he said. But he didn't at all mind being confused for the chairman of the disgraced insurance group, saying: "It was an experience."

By Dana Milbank  | March 18, 2009; 12:45 PM ET
 
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Comments

Obama has laid down a guantlet for lobbyists. You can't blame a mob of reporters for smelling blood in the water.

Posted by: rmorris391 | March 18, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The farm bureau is also behind big fat cat corporate farmers getting massive amounts of government money, while destroying small local farmers.

Maybe the media had the correct target ...

Posted by: WillSeattle | March 18, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Watching the hearings once again confirmed two things for me. One is that the majority of reps do not understand much of what Mr. Liddy is saying. It is simply beyond their education and intellect. The second is that many only want to grandstand for their home districts. They do not care what the truth is. The behavior of some was truly shameful. The ignorance of others was truly appalling. I have know this for many years but I am always surprised that I am surprised. We observers learned that things are always more complicated than they seem, that few in congress care about the details when they get in front of a camera. It ain't AIG that will kill us. It's these guys.

Posted by: tarryh | March 18, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

..speaking of victims, CNN just interviewed (live) Chris Dodd and he stated that the Wyden Amendment and a water down vesion proposed by other Senators, forbidding using bailout money to pay executive bonuses, was specifically removed at the request of the Obama White House! So, it appears that our new President (and I voted for him) was the man responsible for this AIG executive bonus explosion. I can't wait for Leno! Can you say SPIN? Can you say Wall Street wh0re? It looks like that $100,000 AIG contribution to Obama paid off. I hope Leno rips him a new a$$****.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | March 18, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

6:03 commenter: don't give up so easily. Considering who fingered the president what the senator's rep is for being slippery, it is not surprising that he tried to off the little problem on the White House. Dodd has no shame and is already disgraced.

Posted by: axolotl | March 18, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Oh, cool it with the "mob mentality" references. Since when, in a democracy, are citizens concerned about where their tax dollars are getting spent, to be dismissed by the fourth estate as the "angry mob."

Posted by: SarahBB | March 18, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

6:03 commenter: don't give up so easily. Considering who fingered the president what the senator's rep is for being slippery, it is not surprising that he tried to off the little problem on the White House. Dodd has no shame and is already disgraced.

Posted by: axolotl | March 18, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

didn't happen to mention that he was there for a bailout for peanut producers.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | March 19, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

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