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Decoding That Bizarre Willie Brown Column Defending Leland Yee

Scott Lucas | April 21, 2014 | Story Politics

In Sunday's Chronicle, former Mayor Willie Brown penned a head-scratching defense of State Senator Leland Yee that seemed to minimize the charges, which including arranging an arms deal, facing the politician. To help you understand Brown's argument, we've provided the following translation of his column:

Let's everybody calm down about the Leland Yee ruckus.

(What do you mean my column can't just be all movie reviews this week? Fine, fine, fine. I'll say something about Leland Yee real quick, but then you have to let me talk about Draft Day and that new Jude Law movie.)

I'm starting to feel sorry for Leland Yee. He is holed up in his house and everyone thinks of him as the reincarnation of Al Capone.

(Or worse—people think he's the reincarnation of me. And I was never that stupid. Nor am I dead.)

Give the guy a break. When all is said and done, his alleged crimes come down to taking campaign contributions in return for issuing proclamations, using campaign funds to set up a meeting and taking campaign funds for writing a letter.

(After all, it's not like he did anything that I, or almost any other politician, maybe might have considered doing. Why do you think people give money to us? It isn't because they want my fashion tips or restaurant recommendations. Although, I will say that Subway makes a mighty fine turkey sandwich.)

Never did he sell his vote, steal public money or actually put money in his own pocket, as far as I can tell.

(You know, the FBI investigated me at least four times too. So you can bet that I know about these kinds of things.)

None of Yee's decisions affected the public.

(He wasn't thinking big enough.)

I've gone over the FBI's criminal complaint and, from what I can see, the biggest crime he was accused of was trying hustle some undercover FBI agents who were out to get alleged Chinatown gang leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow.

(Well, actually, Sonya just read parts of it out loud to me while we were watching American Hustle on Netflix. But I was totally paying attention, even though it looked like I was napping.)

The 137-page indictment says nothing about Yee being involved with the drug and murder-for-hire charges leveled at some of the others.

(It doesn't say anything about him trafficking minors, or poisoning the water supply with LSD, or plotting a daring heist of the Google barge either. Therefore, he must be guilty of every charge. Trust me, I'm a lawyer.)

And there was apparently never a gun-running operation involving him. It was allegedly just Yee thinking he could hustle some money, that he was ripping off someone who was not very smart. Instead it was an FBI agent.

(This all reminds me of how great American Hustle was. Amazing performances from Louis CK and Christian Bale. And those dresses that Amy Adams wore made me miss the seventies. It's a must see. I'm sorry, what were we talking about?)

When all is said and done, Yee appears to be a petty thief—the guy that walks past the fruit stand and, when you're not looking, takes an apple and keeps walking.

(Or walks into a tapioca bar and demands cash.)

He should not be in government, but that doesn't mean he is dangerous.

(And don't get me wrong, I was no fan of him at all. But don't hate the player. Hate the game.)

And sending him to jail is a waste of time. He is already screwed for life.

(Maybe the No Wall on the Waterfront people need a campaign consultant? Yee could call it public service.)

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