Above, L-R: Then-Gov. McDonnell, some guy, Moneybags Williams, Maureen the Clotheshorse, some other guy. Photo: US District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

After fourteen days of prosecution testimony in Bob and Maureen McDonnell's corruption trial, which took a turn for the soap opera with suggestions that Virginia's ex-First Lady orchestrated years of lavish gifts because of her "crush" on a wealthy snake oil merchant, the defense team finally started presenting its case this week. Opening statements promised intimate details of the former First Marriage from the deposed governor himself, but in order to devour the meaty steak of Bob McDonnell on the stand, we first had to get through the dry salad of the nerds and their numbers.

Once they dispensed with the opening act and got on with the headliner, the courtroom became the Grifty Gov's confessional. Read on to learn how to borrow your way out of debt and meet Bob McDonnell, Priest's Apprentice, in Week Four of the Trial of the Century of the Summer.

Photo: US District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Any common-sense reading of the facts shows that the McDonnells spent their time in the Virginia Governor's Mansion in constant danger of financial collapse, making them easy marks for a rich man in search of official influence for sale, i.e. snake oil salesman Jonnie Williams. The defense brought out some creative accounting "expertise" from a CPA named J. Allen Kosowsky to argue that Bob and Maureen weren't so bad off after all, meaning they took Jonnie's money just for fun and not to stave off bankruptcy, which we guess was supposed to make them seem less corrupt.

The contorted logic required to depict the McDonnells as financially stable did not hold up well under questioning. While we do not have an accounting expert working the Virginia desk at the Wonket Grift Bureau, we are pretty sure we learned in the household budget unit of Home Ec that loans are financial liabilities, not "liquid assets" that contribute positively to the balance sheet. Eventually the defense's "expert" veered so far from acknowledged reality that Judge Spencer, beyond just sustaining the prosecutor's objections, felt the need to personally call bullshit: "How is it that you determine that this is a good thing, that it creates a sound financial situation to create a debt?"

In addition to their foray into Interpretive Accounting, the defense attorneys continued a theme that had emerged in testimony from prosecution witnesses: Mrs. McDonnell was a mentally unstable horrorshow of a boss who drove the staff of the executive residence to threaten to quit en masse if she didn't just CHILL OUT ALREADY, MAUREEN. A top-notch management consultant from Virginia Commonwealth University spent months trying to get things working again and wound up recommending that the First Lady move out of the Governor's Mansion.

All the boring credit card statements and wardrobe tantrums were forgotten, though, once the former governor took the stand and dropped the biggest news of the week: relations with his wife had broken down so badly that he'd recently moved out of the couple's Glen Allen home. Where had Bob decamped to? Was he hiding out in the floral-bedspreaded comfort of his sister's spare bedroom? Kicking back bachelor-style on the sagging couch of his roomie from college? Reliving the good times at Jonnie's cozy little house at Smith Mountain Lake?

Photo: US District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Bob McDonnell will not be found in any of those places, because either he or his attorneys, in a stroke of genius, found a spot for him to crash where he can't possibly get in trouble and no reporter would be a big enough asshole to intrude. Since the week before the trial started, Bob has been bunking with his priest in the rectory of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Richmond.

Photo: St. Patrick's Catholic Church via Facebook

Well, at least we hope that Bob can avoid fresh scandal while he's polishing the pews in return for room and board, since it turns out that his holy hidey-hole might not be as anonymous as he'd like. His new roommate, Father Wayne Ball, has a worryingly active Twitter account and is himself blogging about the ongoing trial.

Poor Bob. When you tumble from the pedestal, everybody wants to bite off a piece of you on the way down.

[ Washington Post / Richmond Times-Dispatch / Father Wayne Ball ]

You can follow Beth on Twitter. Confessions are accepted by direct message most Saturday afternoons.



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