Hank Paulson: Kneeling Before Pelosi

The man who ran Goldman and was once compared to God is brought low, in a way.

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Oh, how the mighty have fallen: Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson reportedly kneeled before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last night in a bid to keep her party on board with the bailout package—while the GOP chafes and grimaces—so it can get through Congress and onto the president's desk before the credit markets seize up.

Actually, the Wall Street Journal 's report said that it was really "a moment of levity in a rough day," rather than a display of humility.

Nevertheless, for our own levity: This is a man who was once, at Goldman Sachs, compared to God. From Investment Dealers Digest in September 2001:

At Goldman Sachs' holiday party at New York's Jacob Javits Center last December, Bette Midler used an old joke to poke fun at the firm's chairman and chief executive officer, Henry Paulson.

Her story began with a gathering of top Goldman pros in heaven. As Midler described it, equity chief Tom Tuft, strategist Abby Joseph Cohen, and a number of other top executives were standing at the pearly gates when "suddenly the biggest limo they'd ever seen drove by and on the door it said: Hank Paulson's Limo. Surprised, Tom Tuft looked to St. Peter. 'They didn't tell us Hank Paulson was coming.'

"'Oh,' answered St. Peter, 'That's not Hank Paulson, that's God. Sometimes, he thinks he's Hank Paulson.'"

Remember: Careers are not trajectories. Their lines are a bit more like mountain ranges.