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Even in the worst circumstances one can imagine, there are brief moments of hilarity which ought to be appreciated.

Of course, our humour must not distract us from facing this political crisis head on. It merely provides some relief amid the chaos while bringing problematic behaviour into sharp focus in a more palatable manner. Amid the manic rush of headlines this week, a particular detail stood out which gave me a solid fit of giggles for a few minutes, swiftly followed by a dose of schadenfreude.

The source of my great amusement was yet another disastrous interview featuring disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat. We will get to the content, the events which preceded it, and why I just described it as disastrous in a minute. I want to get to the funny bit first.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about F Living’s studios reminds me too much of Network, though Karl Bonaci doesn’t seem to be close to a meltdown as much as he seems to be close to atrophying. God knows what goes on through this man’s mind when he allows a crook who defrauded an entire country to say ridiculous lies on television without challenging them. If that is what you need to resort to for higher ratings, it might have something to do with the soporific nature of your schedule and the fact that you have nothing interesting to contribute to the wider discussion.

F Living presenter Karl Bonaci and disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat. Photo: F Living Facebook page

As I read articles detailing Muscat’s multiple monologues on F Living (see here for another example), it dawned on me that every single recent interview he’s done was filmed using somewhat decrepit equipment pointed at an outdated studio set. Those pathetic interviews with his favourite handbag, Emanuel Cuschieri, had the same exact feel to them: a tacky display featuring two men past their prime whose one-way exchange is entirely divorced from reality.

Dear readers, make no mistake: we have officially entered the low-res Joe era.

Though you wouldn’t know it if you had to go by all the bombastic descriptions of ‘Muscat being on the warpath‘ or coming out ‘firing on all cylinders‘, what we are witnessing is the equivalent of the last embers of a smouldering trashcan fire of a political career.

It would certainly be interesting to know why Muscat no longer appears in interviews on more respectable news platforms. Is it a personal choice or is it because nobody in their right mind wants to give airtime to a disgraced former prime minister who is spending all of his energy delaying the impact of the extremely serious criminal charges hanging over his head? I know some of my more level-headed peers have repeatedly tried (and failed) to convince Muscat to accept a request for a real interview. What’s the hang up?

Muscat was the prime minister of a European member state for seven years. Emboldened by landslide electoral victories, he was in a position to command an interview with pretty much any news outlet in the world if he had something to say that was worth reporting.

Now, presumably because he realised one can only do so many broadcasts from a washroom or a backyard before needing to switch gears, he is reduced to these petulant axe-grinding sessions which require a compliant individual like Bonaci or Cuschieri to pretend it’s an actual interview. In the rare instances which he finds himself face to face with journalists, all we get is the same evasive manoeuvres that we used to see back when he was still a prime minister and not a corrupt political dropout.

Even his lamentations are becoming increasingly nonsensical. He charged at Repubblika and claimed he will hold them responsible for the €11 million he says were spent on the Vitals inquiry, a statement which, to begin with, contrasts with the lower figure of €10 million supplied by justice minister Jonathan Attard and is completely detached from reality: under what legal framework will he be suing Repubblika for starting the inquiry? Did he and his tuna fondling bestie spend the night role-playing a fantasy world in which laws work according to their whims?

He tried to ridicule the extremely serious charges he is facing, emphasising just how much he is laughing them off, sounding like a former partner trying to impress the ex by hyping up how great their life has been since he last saw them. For the second time in the past few days, a man who claims to sleep so serenely he practically starts floating to the heavens if he isn’t tied down to the bed simultaneously compared himself to a pugilist, ranting and raving about smelling the ring and wanting to put on his boxing gloves again.

He seems to have taken great offence at the massive €30 million freezing order that prosecutors are seeking to impose on him, deceitfully misrepresenting the figure as if it were referring to literal cash he pocketed when he knows full well such a freezing order would be covering a wide range of money flows and assets. Plenty of scaremongering about how the prosecution of other current and former high ranking civil servants might ‘paralyse’ the government, as if this wasn’t a mess of his government’s own making to begin with.

More threats, more bluster, more slamming of fists on tables. Not one iota of an explanation as to why so many entities, organisations, individuals, experts, journalists, and activists have condemned the Labour government’s dismantlement of the rule of law, both on his watch and in its aftermath. Not one, single, credible statement about why exactly the whole world would conspire against him in such a manner, as if saying the word ‘vendetta’ every five minutes somehow makes it so.

It’s not fair that he is being criminally charged on the back of a magisterial inquiry whose contents he is not privy to, he says. He complained about not having yet been formally questioned by the police, which means that the prosecution is yet to disclose evidence as would normally happen during interrogation after arrest as opposed to what happens when one receives court summons, as was the case in this week’s events.

How can he defend himself if he does not know what he is being charged with, the poor thing?

Cry us a river, why don’t you.

You know full well the deal was always cooked, and there is a plethora of information in the public domain which details the extent of just how cooked it was. Besides the avalanche of journalistic investigations over the years, the report compiled by the National Audit Office alone consisted of hundreds of pages and had to be split into multiple volumes compiled over years of patient, meticulous work from the auditors of that august institution. Even then, before the deal was formally ripped to shreds by the court, we already had enough information to conclude that Muscat and his co-conspirators screwed us, big time.

Muscat will now get access to the parts of the inquiry report which refer to him specifically, a moment which he framed as a win but which in reality does very little to assist his case at this point in time. The real objective was to try and suspend the inquiry before it is completed and get magistrate Gabriella Vella out of the equation. The real objective was not achieved, which means that all Muscat will be able to do now is get his hands on a redacted copy of the inquiry and hash out a plan of attack.

There is nothing that Muscat can actually do to contest the extremely precise data-gathering process which such an inquiry must carry out due to the complexity of money laundering cases of this scale. On Thursday, a telling detail emerged from court: while Robert Abela is claiming he wants the inquiry report to be published, his lawyers in court are doing their utmost to achieve the exact opposite. This is the party machine using the government’s apparatus as if it were an extension of their headquarters at Mile End.

At this point in time, it would be far more dignified to spill the beans and just get on with it. It really is an embarrassing spectacle.

Face the music, coward.

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