Opinion: Clarence Thomas is on ‘horrible’ DC. The open road calls righteousness

Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s daily radio program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” Follow him further Wires. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion at CNN.


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wants everyone to know he’s had enough of the “nasty” of Washington, DC. That was Thomas’ clear message Friday at a judicial conference that turned into his own personal grievance session, as he went after critics who, he says, “pride themselves on being terrible.”

Thomas – referring to the exaggerated victimization of former President Donald Trump – equated the criticism to wartime bombings: “They don’t necessarily bomb you, but they bomb your reputation, your good name or your honor. And that’s not a crime, but they can do just as much damage that way.” Thomas concluded this by calling Washington “a horrible place.”

It is true that the justice system has been rightly criticized in recent years for its ethically questionable actions. Experts — including myself — have been relentless in raising Thomas’ ethical issues, from accepting lavish gifts from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow to his refusal to recuse himself from cases related to the attack on the Capitol of January 6, despite his wife Ginni’s personal efforts to help Trump. overturning the 2020 election results.

But in this sea of ​​despair for Thomas comes a bright ray of hope: John Oliver. Yes, the comedian and host of the Emmy Award-winning HBO show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” has come to Thomas’ rescue with a generous offer.

During his show in February, after Oliver laid out the litany of ethical issues surrounding Thomas, the comic addressed the justice directly, saying, “We have a special offer for you tonight.” The comedian then set the terms: “We are willing to offer you a million dollars a year for the rest of your life if you simply agree to leave the Supreme Court immediately and never return.”

Before you – or Thomas – dismiss this as a comical comment, Oliver made it clear that this was a concrete offer, explaining: “This is not a joke. If you watch our show, you know that jokes aren’t really our thing. This is real. A million dollars a year – until you or I die.”

But wait, there’s more. Oliver also offered Thomas a $2.4 million RV as part of the deal. And to be clear: this is not a camper. This is a top of the line luxury camper equipped with a king size bed, fireplace and four televisions.

If you’re wondering why Oliver would throw in a luxury RV, this gift has special meaning: As Oliver documented on his show, recent reporting by the New York Times revealed that Thomas bought a luxury RV in 1999: a used Prevost . Le Mirage XL Marathon which was 40 feet long “with orange flames licking the sides.”

But what raised ethical flags was that the costs of this first-class cruising were covered by a wealthy friend. No, not Crow. This time it was Anthony Welters, who made his wealth in healthcare. As reported in August 2023, Welters “provided Judge Thomas with financing that experts said was unlikely a bank would have provided.”

This prompted the Senate Finance Committee to investigate the financing. In December, the committee said its staff determined that documents provided by Thomas’ attorneys show the Justice Department “has not fully repaid the loan, raising questions about tax compliance and ethics.”

In a speech on the Senate floor in February, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island noted: “The Finance Committee’s investigation shows that the principal of the loan was never repaid – not a dollar of it… but the forgiveness of that loan was never happened. stated based on his legal ethics filings, suggesting it might not have been disclosed, even in his tax returns, which could lead to a whole second set of legal issues.”

But there goes my “trouble” – as Thomas would call it – for raising the ethical issues by a sitting Supreme Court justice ruling on matters that impact business interests, as well as many facets of our life.

Let’s get back to what should make Thomas happy: Oliver’s offer. The bad news for Thomas was that when Oliver made his very generous offer in February, he noted that the judge had 30 days to respond. It is clear that that period is over.

But here’s the great news for the beleaguered Thomas. Last Monday, Oliver appeared on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” where he upped his offer again. As Oliver said directly to Thomas, just in case the judge was watching, “If you would like to reach out and reopen negotiations, I still have the contract in my desk drawer, and I would be willing to do so. .”

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And Oliver said he wasn’t kidding. There are even legal experts who wonder whether Oliver can make such an offer. “Honestly, I would open it back up,” Oliver said, adding, “As long as he gets out before they make the June decisions. I would be willing to reopen discussions.”

For Thomas, this couldn’t have come at a better time. On Friday, Thomas even said he enjoyed visiting other places where people “don’t take pride in doing harmful things just because they have the capacity to do so.” Well, what better way to visit these other places than in the brand new $2 million+ RV with $1 million in your pocket?!

As Oliver stated on his show in February, summarizing his offer to Thomas: “A million dollars a year and a brand new apartment on wheels, and all you have to do in return is sign the contract and buy the Supreme to leave. Court.” Let’s hope he accepts it, for the good of Thomas’ psyche – and for the good of America.