In an exclusive special holiday interview with ISL correspondent, Benjy Cohen, Olmert admitted that his administration is far from fulfilling his pre-election promises of full-fledged, across the board corruption in government. Here are some excerpts from the interview, which was conducted in Olmert's headquarters in the fashionable Blue Lagoon Massage Parlor in Ramat-Gan's Diamond District.
ISL: Prime minister, before the elections you promised a government that would be devoted to corruption in all it's possible forms. In fact, many experts predicted that you had a good chance to become the most fraudulent government in the short history of our country. Do you feel that you have fulfilled this promise?
Olmert: Well, yes and no. I think that we got off to a great start with the war in Lebanon – I do not think that we could have mishandled it any better than we did. Of course, dereliction of duty and malfeasance can hardly be called corruption, but still, it was a start.
ISL: True enough, but wouldn't it be correct to attribute the Lebanon Fiasco to the comically misguided efforts of the Minister of Defense, Amir Peretz?
Olmert; Well, without taking away anything from the heroic efforts of Peretz to lose the war in any possible manner, it was me after all, who appointed him to a position he was obviously ill-equipped to perform properly. Remember what they say – "Failure has many fathers, but success is an orphan"
ISL: Well, OK. But the mismanagement of the war can hardly be considered a groundbreaking failure or even a significant one – after all, the war on terror has been bungled for over a decade. The feeling is that the public expects more from it's elected representatives.
Olmert: That's true enough, and you know what – they deserve better. I promise that after Passover we will re-double our efforts in every possible aspect of corruption, from bribery, fraud and larceny to petty theft, sexual misdemeanors and plain old favoritism.
ISL: speaking of sexual misdemeanors, what's your take on the Ramon affair?
Olmert: Well, you have to love the guy – which one of us has not used his position to extort sexual favors from his underlings? I know I have, so I am not condemning him except for one thing – why kiss when you can rape? Haven't we learned anything from Yitzhak Mordechai? So Ramon could have done better, but still, I appreciate his efforts. I just wish we had more ministers like him.
ISL: You're disappointed with your cabinet?
Olmert: Well, to a certain extent yes. We all could do better. Why do I have only one Hirchson? We should have had at least five more scandals of that nature and scale.
ISL: What is going on with your Finance Minister?
Olmert: Well, he finally got caught that's all. He's been embezzling for years, why else would I appoint him to be in charge of the Treasury?
ISL: And why would you expect so many more scandals from your cabinet?
Olmert: Well, I know my people, believe me, none better. They have all been chosen for a reason, both by the public and by me, and the reason is it that they have proven to be the most capable, unashamed liars in their party or district. They say that dishonesty is the best policy, and that is the dictum I followed when appointing the cabinet. Obviously, where there is dishonesty, there must be some kind of corruption.
ISL: So are you saying that there is more corruption in your government than meets the eye? And if so , why are you keeping the lid on it?
Olmert: Well, to answer your first question – yes of course there's a lot more corruption, I mean we're not stupid you know – just deceitful. Your second question really hits a nerve. I think it's a combination of things. First of all, some of the ministers just don't want to be caught, it's as if they're ashamed of something, or afraid – I don't really know – and I'm having a difficult time convincing them to live up to their reputation and their own election promises, not to mention mine.
ISL: That's all?
Olmert: Of course not. Part of it is on us, but the police are also not doing a very good job at uncovering governmental corruption. They always seem to be too late, or too soon, and somewhat off the mark. Sure, they can uncover the tip of the iceberg but not much more than that. Personally, I don't trust them – I think they're on the take.
Olmert: Well, really, who knows? Probably everybody's. I know I'm kicking in every month for a few thou' and that goes for at least some of my ministers. It's just the way things are - always have been, always will be.
ISL: Well, that seems quite an admission. I'm sure it will make the headlines tomorrow.
Olmert: I wish! We're getting a really bad rap from the press. They hate us.
ISL: Really? I thought that without the support of the press you would never have become prime minister.
Olmert: Well. That may be so, but that was then and this is now – they've turned their backs on me completely. I guess that some people – journalists for example - you just can't trust anymore. You know, it didn't used to be this way. I remember when you could really trust people, when a friend was a friend, and people said hello, you know, when things were easier, calmer. Who cared about corruption, embezzlement, fraud and all that, I mean, since when has the degree of corruption of the government become the sole measure of it's achievements? What about the economy, creating jobs, helping the poor, aiding the sick and the elderly? What about everything that makes us human, and worthy?
ISL: Well, actually, your government has failed abysmally in all of those fields.
Olmert (smiling): Of course, and I'm damn proud of it!
ISL: Ha-Ha! For a second there you had me going. I thought you wanted to turn the clock back, return to an earlier age of innocence, something like that.
Olmert: Really, want kind of idiot do you take me for?
ISL: A corrupt one?
Olmert: Well you got that right. Why would I want to give this up? I have everything a man could possibly need – beautiful women surrounding me, all the money I could possibly want or need, and of course the ultimate aphrodisiac – the power, the power to rule, to create and, if I wish, to destroy.
ISL: Destroy this country?
Olmert: Yes. I think about it a lot. I envy the Roman emperors, absolute rulers like Caligula who drove his country to insanity and destruction along with his own decaying mind, or Nero who burned his beautiful city to the ground. Imagine that! Can a man possibly be more corrupt than destroying the country of the people who chose him? I doubt it. For me that is the ultimate goal. After I finish with this country, no one will ever again doubt the sincerity of my corruption, nor my devotion to the ideal of a completely venal, immoral government.
At that Olmert ended our interview, his eyes gazing far into to the future, the gaze of a far sighted man, ahead of his times, or, perhaps the introspective gaze of a seer, a creative mind born once in a generation destined to lead men to their fates, inexplicably bound with his own, or perhaps, after all, no more than the empty, mindless gaze of a desperate old man sniffing coke off the white, silky thighs of the under aged, Russian prostitute lying down before him.