Gin, Girls, and Governance

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman on personal freedom, free speech, and the state

In February, President Barack Obama told a New Hampshire audience, “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.” Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman was still livid when the president came to town shortly afterward, and Goodman made headlines by refusing to meet with Obama during his visit. Goodman, a former mob attorney, is also famous for telling a fourth-grader that if he were stranded on a deserted island, the one thing he’d bring with him is a bottle of gin, later amended to a bottle of gin and two showgirls.

Originally elected as a Democrat in 1999, Goodman now has no party affiliation. Senior Editor Radley Balko interviewed the mayor in February, days before Goodman dissed the commander in chief.

Q: What shaped your political philosophy?

A: I’m a criminal defense lawyer by profession, so I have an inherent distrust for government. I rarely put a client on the witness stand. I usually made my case by showing the government didn’t behave properly, either under the Constitution or by its methodology. That’s a pretty successful way to practice criminal law.

Q: Is personal freedom today more threatened by the moral crusaders on the right or the public health crusaders on the left?

A: Both. I think they both have a tendency to want government to address personal behavior. I’m not in favor of that. I don’t like smoking bans. If people want to kill themselves slowly, that’s their prerogative. There needs to be a national discussion about the legalization of drugs and about the legalization of prostitution. I’m sometimes mischaracterized as supporting those positions, and I certainly understand that some people may not be ready for these sorts of changes. But I think we certainly need to have the discussion, about both the benefits and possible detriments of legalization.

Q: Critics of the U.S. Supreme Court decision lifting campaign restrictions on corporations have mused that it could open the door to NASCAR-style corporate sponsorship of politicians. You actually have a corporate sponsor. How did that happen?

A: A friend who worked for the liquor industry knew I was a big Beefeater drinker and asked if I’d like to be an official sponsor. I said I’d be open to it. They offered $25,000. I said, “Nope. Not enough.” So another friend who owns a wine and spirits company asked if I’d like to be a spokesman for Bombay Sapphire instead. I guess we’re getting into the area of prostitution here, but I thought if I could get enough money, I’d start drinking Bombay.

So I tried Bombay. It tasted very, very good. They offered $100,000, and I accepted. So $50,000 goes to homeless issues here in the Las Vegas community, and $50,000 goes for scholarships for needy children to a private school my wife founded. Since then, I’ve received another $50,000, and that went to a brain institute here.

I think I’ve used the money wisely. I use the product to excess. About a bottle a night.

Q: A couple years ago, you lashed out at a video game that depicted terror attacks on Las Vegas, implying it should be taken off the shelves. How does that jibe with your philosophy of personal and economic freedom?

A: The game put us in a very bad light. I’m a big defender of free speech, but I also have a job to do as mayor. Just like when the president says something bad about Las Vegas, I blast him. The fella who made that game had every right to make it, and I had every right to criticize him for it.

Q: Prior to politics, you represented accused organized crime figures. What’s the biggest difference between politics and the mob?

A: My clients gave me their word, and their word was their bond. They always paid me. They always thanked me at the end of the day. In the political world, none of that happens. A politician’s word usually doesn’t mean a damn. His word is for the moment.

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  • ||

    Interesing intereview. A government leader who distrusts government and a politician who admits that politicians are liars.

  • OO=====D||

    I live for your kisses!

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    We need more Oscar Goodmans, then.

  • ||

    I've always thought Oscar Goodman is perfect for Las Vegas. He's a very interesting man.

  • Some Guy||

    "My clients (mobsters) gave me their word, and their word was their bond. They always paid me. They always thanked me at the end of the day. In the political world, none of that happens. A politician’s word usually doesn’t mean a damn. His word is for the moment."

    Isn't that the sad truth. Is there more to this interview? I think Mayor Goodman is a really interesting person.

  • ||

    How do you know it's the truth?

    Goodman is a policitican and just told you that he is also a liar...

  • Jamie Kelly||

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  • -||

    You could just ignore the troll instead of clogging the thread with this nonsense. Just sayin'.

  • Jamie Kelly||

    Pollen-grain harmomegathy is nonsense?
    Why, you brute! You neanderthal! You knuckle dragger!

  • Pip||

    Fuck off.

  • cynical||

    Actually, trolling or not, I think he made a good point. It's like one of those logic puzzles.

  • Jeffersonian||

    He's got a good point. When I lived in Brazil, it was consensus that the most honest people in the country were the guys that ran the illegal "jogo de bicho" or numbers racket. Their businesses ran entirely on reputation, so honesty was critical or the whole thing would collapse. OTOH, politicins were reviled at the pocket-stuffing cretins they almost invariably were.

  • Pedant||

    Commander in chief isn't a synonym for POTUS. Just sayin'.

  • Mob Enforcer||

    But knee fractures is synonymous wid a limp, if you catch my drift, schnegro.

  • Max||

    Man, you really have to get down to some stipud fucking shit to toe the party line. Who the fuck cares what this asshole thinks or says?

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  • ||

    Man, you really have to get down to some stipud fucking shit to toe the party line. Who the fuck cares what this asshole thinks or says?

    You, obviously, since you took the time to read and respond to the interview.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Stipud is as stipud does!

  • Pot||

    Hello Mr. Kettle! I have been a fan of yours for a long time! I would be interested in subscribing to your newsletter.

  • Xeones||

    Max, you simpering shitcock, it's "tow the party lion." Now go fuck yourself.

  • ||

    If he could do that, he'd leave us alone.

  • Warty||

    Why do we persist in calling Edward whatever handle of the moment he's using? Fuck you, Edward, you verminous little shitbag.

  • ||

    His impotent rage is like honey. So sweet, so delicious, so sticky...what is that white stuff on your face, Warty?

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    My rage is anything but impotent. If there's stray jizz all over me, and I'm not saying there is, you coprophagous worm, that's the reason.

  • Coprophagous Worm||

    Jump back fucktard! Even WE have standards!

  • ||

    You impertinent jackalope! How dare you talk back to me. Don't make me sic Max on you. He will hump your leg so hard.

  • Exotic Animal Veterinarian ||

    I'm afraid it's too late for that.

  • The Gobbler||

    "coprophagous worm"

    You have a pet name for Epi's cock?

  • ||

    That's a bit rich coming from someone whose handle is dangerously close to The CockGobbler.

    But yes, Warty has a pet name for my schlong. And there's nothing wrong with that.

  • Amer. Academy of Urologists||

    Exstrophy-Epispadias Complex is not a term of endearment.

  • Sam Grove||

    I was in London Sunday looking at the Metro underground map and noticed that the end of one of the lines was "Cockfosters".

  • peachy||

    Even more disturbingly, he Royal Navy has commissioned multiple ships with the name HMS Cockchafer. (I'll spare you the embarrassing google search history - it's a species of beetle.)

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    He's more of a pube-waffle, Xeones.

  • A is Awesome||

    I played that game depicting Las Vegas terrorism. It's called Rainbow Six: Vegas, a Tom Clancy canon-based game. Frankly, it didn't put Vegas in a negative light at all. To the contrary, it appeared to be quite awesome, and the terrorists attacked it because of their skewed beliefs.

    Just saying, if your'e going to make a judgement, learn a little about what you are judging.

  • ||

    The interviewer blew a chance to see if the Mayor supported the Internet Gaming Act of 2005 which banned on-line blackjack and poker.

    Something tells me he wouldn't be too much of a libertarian on that issue.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Note the date. shrike makes a very good point.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    So what if he managed to make one valid point? He's still a festering shitheel.

  • ||

    Yeah, good point. Though I don't think that the "Internet Gaming Act of 2005" was actually passed. It was passed by the House but failed in the sentence. (Protip: This is not referred to as a "pocket veto," shrike.)

    Technically, what happened is that after the Senate failed to pass the separate bill in 2005, amendments substantially equivalent to that separate bill were inserted during reconciliation of the SAFE Ports Act of 2006, and the conference report was passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President at the end of the session. (GWB didn't even remark upon that portion of the bill.)

    It's an example of how terrible reconciliation can be.

  • ||

    Failed in the Senate, well, actually was never voted on by the full Senate, which is still not a pocket veto.

  • ||

    "Title VIII of the Act is also known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (or UIGEA). This title (found at 31 U.S.C. § 5361–5367) prohibits the transfer of funds from a financial institution to an illegal Internet gambling site, specifically excluding fantasy sports, online lotteries, and horse/harness racing."

    (same source)

  • ||

    "The Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 (or SAFE Port Act, Pub.L. 109-347[1]) was an Act of Congress in the United States covering port security and to which an online gambling measure was added at the last moment. The House and Senate passed the conference report on September 30, 2006, and President Bush signed the Act into law on October 13, 2006"

    (Wiki)

  • ||

    Right now, probably not, as he frankly admits, he is a paid shill for Las Vegas. If he was not the mayor, he might. But we do not know either way.

  • ||

    Oscar Goodman? Or is that Oscar Goldman?

  • Mark||

    A Las Vegas politician who supports 'personal freedom' in the form of drug decriminalization, prostitution and gambling. Hmmmmm. No conflict of interest there.

    Show me a Des Moines, IA politician supporting those things, then I'll be impressed...

  • BakedPenguin||

    Prostitution is illegal in LV, it's legal only in a few rural counties. Drugs are still illegal everywhere, although I agree with your point that it's probably politically safer for the LV mayor to say those things than the Des Moines one.

  • Zeb||

    I don't really see the conflict. It is in Las Vegas's interest to have gambling illegal online and in other states, wouldn't you think?

  • Geotpf||

    I'm actually not sure. I think that if online poker was completely legal, more people would play it, and since there is a significant overlap in people who play online poker and live poker, fully legalizing it might actually bring more business to Las Vegas. It would also raise the profile of poker and poker players, which might result in more televised events and higher ratings for the existing ones, which usually take place in Vegas.

    But that's a outside the box line of thinking. I'm sure most Vegas folks think of online poker as a direct competitor as opposed to a catalyst to encourage live gambling.

  • Mike K.||

    As a resident of Las Vegas, I find Mayor Goodman's comments about government disingenuous. At a time when the city's budgets are quickly shrinking, and he is demanding pay cuts from workers and laying off workers, he has the gall to ram through the construction of a new city hall. Seems to me like he has no problem with government at all.

  • kevin||

    Well, if he's demanding pay cuts from public sector workers, thats fine. The city hall thing is shit though. As far as I'm concerned they can work at the public library.

  • Mike K.||

    My point was that if there isn't money to pay the workers, they don't have money for a new city hall. Which happens to be located across the street from the county jail, makes for a short perp walk...

  • Jeff||

    PA Gov. Ed Rendell also has a corporate sponsor: Comcast. He's appeared as a "football analyst" on Philadelphia Eagles pre- and post-game shows (broadcast across over half of the state) since his days as Philly mayor -- including 2 campaigns for Governor. Rendell's only football qualifications are throwing iceballs at Dallas Cowboys players, and sending a bus-load of drunks to the NFL Draft to boo the Donovan McNabb pick. His re-election opponent (Steelers Hall of Fame WR Lynn Swann) quit his TV job during the campaign, but not Fast Eddie.

  • Rollo the Janitor||

    Billy likes to drink soda.

  • ||

    asked if I’d like to be a spokesman for Bombay Sapphire instead. I guess we’re getting into the area of prostitution here, but I thought if I could get enough money, I’d start drinking Bombay. . . .

    I think I’ve used the money wisely. I use the product to excess. About a bottle a night.

    What's not to like?

  • Las Vegas Showgirl||

    Easy for you to say, you don't have to sleep with the butt-ugly gin soaked sot and his clumsy love fumbling. Reminds me of Teddy....

  • ||

    Didn't this guy play himself in "Casino"?

    Great movie.

  • JRD||

    Is the statement “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college” really a controversial one, even by libertarian standards?

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    No, but the way Obama used that phrase had no meaning, and was insipid to boot.

  • ||

    Is the statement “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college” really a controversial one, even by libertarian standards?

    Yes, because it implies that excercising certain personal freedoms might have negative social consequences which goes against libertarian dogma.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    *yawn*

  • Zeb||

    I thought that the reaction to Obama saying that was completely stupid and missed the point entirely. Vegas is a place for irresponsible fun. They market themselves that way. Nobody thinks that going to Vegas with a bunch of cash is a good plan if you want to save money and not spend it on frivolous things.

  • ||

    Exactly, as if Vegas had this pristine reputation as a bastion of moral and responsble living before Obama came and ruined it all.

  • ||

    Mob guys have honesty? During the the entire existence of the Commission (the meeting of the five heads of the families) there was a specific rule banning any made man from dealing drugs.
    Almost everybody ignored that rule as long as they didn't get caught and would swear up and down that they never dealt drugs.
    Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso (underboss for the Luchesse family) killed about forty of his own men on suspicion of being rats. He also tried to kill John Gotti and remained good friends with him even after his failed attempt. Now don't tell me that they're honest.
    Of course, I suppose mobsters in Las Vegas could just be sweet little angels compared to ones in New York. Because there would never be anything for them to kill each other of fight over in Vegas.
    I suspect the mayor is blinded by the myth of the hard-working honest mafiosa.

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  • LarryA||

    In February, President Barack Obama told a New Hampshire audience, “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”

    Right on! That’s what Congress is for.

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