Matt Taibbi’s New Orleans rescue adventure—co-starring Sean Penn and Douglas Brinkley—begins in a Houston bar:
I’m in the lounge of the Four Seasons with Sean Penn and other assorted media creatures, debating the merits of rescuing animals instead of humans in a disaster area. To my left is the eminent historian Douglas Brinkley, a friendly academic whose careful diction reminds me of Bob Woodward’s. Brinkley is my contact in Houston. He’s friends with Penn, and when he evacuated his home in New Orleans earlier in the week, he left his cats and his maid behind in the flood zone. Now he and Penn are talking about commandeering private jets, helicopters and weapons for a grand mission into hell that begins tomorrow.
Two points of interest here. One: Brinkley has a maid. Two: he left her behind in the flood zone. Remember Penn’s claim that “we were pulling drowning people out of the water” and Brinkley’s description of Penn as an “American hero” for “rescuing up to 40 people”? Here’s Taibbi’s description, direct from Penn’s little boat:
In the end, we spend the whole day out on the water—until sundown, anyway—and bring about nine or ten residents back to shore. One of our passengers is a schizophrenic whom Sean jumped in the water to save when the kick from the rotors of a hovering helicopter forced her underwater.
No word on whether Brinkley’s maid got out. She isn’t mentioned after the second paragraph.