Enron founder Ken Lay, who six weeks ago was found guilty of a variety of federal charges relating to that company's demise, including conspiracy and fraud, has died of a massive heart attack. Lay was 64.
I don't have much to say about Lay's passing that hasn't already been said elsewhere. And I know that various "alternate" theories regarding Lay's death - that it was a suicide or a homicide or that it was faked - are floating about as well. I'm really not into conspiracy theories, though; heart disease is the leading cause of death in the Western world, claiming 600 thousand Americans every year, and if the autopsy says that Lay died because his coronary artery was clogged worse than the West Loop at 5:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, I'm inclined to accept that explanation.
Although it did make me think: if I knew that I were likely looking at spending the rest of my life behind bars, I'd probably want to shorten that "rest of my life" by eating a plateful of bacon, eggs and pancakes with generous servings of butter and syrup every morning and a couple of large steaks with mashed potatoes and gravy every evening. I'd wash it all down with a gallon or two of ice cream, avoid salads, fresh fruits and vegetables at all costs, and probably start smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes every day just for good measure. After all, the quicker I can harden and clog up those arteries, the shorter my stay behind bars will obviously be.
Now, I'm not saying that Lay purposefully "ate himself to death" or that his heart attack was anything other than the unintentional culmination of a lifetime of poor Western dietary habits and the stress of creating, leading and, finally, running into the ground a major corporation. But if it were true, could you blame him? I certainly couldn't.