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AIG's Latest PR Masterpiece


More taxpayer dollars, more luxury getaways.

Note to the geniuses burning taxpayer dollars at American International Group (AIG): Cameras are everywhere.

In AIG's latest pratfall, top executives were caught slinking around a fancy resort in Phoenix, despite apparent efforts to hide their presence by removing the company's logo from the conference room. Hidden poolside cameras nailed 'em as the company begged Uncle Sam for another $40 billion in loans.

The resort's employees were instructed not to spill the beans by uttering the now dreaded letters: A-I-G.

Suggested code word for future company junkets on the public's dime: A-S-S.

AIG's muckety-mucks clearly have no sense of shame, but you'd think the honchos would at least have a seat-of-the-pants understanding of public relations.

Earlier, AIG officials spent $440,000 on a retreat at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Southern California after pocketing a taxpayer-backed bailout.

Four AIG top dogs followed up by traveling to England to go partridge hunting. The cost: A mere $87,000. One aspiring Einstein told a reporter: "The recession will go on until about 2011, but the shooting was great today and we are all relaxing fine."

The New York attorney general stepped in to provide some adult supervision, but apparently forgot to hire a full-time nanny.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York handed AIG an $85 billion loan in September to help it avoid bankruptcy. In October, the Fed extended $38 billion more in credit to keep the company from burning through the loan too quickly.

Last spring, AIG reported multimillion-dollar losses from mortgages gone sour. The US Treasury decided that the company's failure probably would bring down several other investment firms and banks that worked closely with AIG - and that could start the dominoes falling.

It's time for AIG's semi-conscious twits-in-residence to at least make a bow to fiscal responsibility.

Instead of fancy resorts, AIG's pooh-bahs should hold their next conference/junket on the Staten Island Ferry.

The boats travel between lower Manhattan and New York's outermost borough on a regular schedule, so there won't be any trouble booking passage. Come to think of it, the fare used to be a nickel, but the trips are now free – this should appeal to AIG's baser instincts. Top executives will have a knockout view of the Statue of Liberty, assuming they know the difference between New Jersey and Brooklyn.

Metaphor alert: In 2003, the ferry crashed into the dock on the Staten Island side because the captain lost consciousness at the controls.

Get it, AIG? Huh? Huh? Get it?
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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