Over the years, we've knocked the stuffing out of Newport Beach developer George Argyros, but he's still a stuffed shirt. In the 1990s, when Argyros was almost individually funding the county effort to build an international airport at El Toro, Weekly contributor Nathan Callahan and I hit on the brilliant idea of bringing the airport to his backyard. The problem: his backyard is Newport Harbor. So, early one morning, the sun rising over the majestic Santa Anas, Nathan and I rented a boat at Davey's Locker ($35 for the half day), putt-putted over to Argyros' Harbor Island home, set our boom box on 11, and let him have it with pre-recorded airport noise. We floated out there for 20 minutes or so, the Dopplering roar of 707s and 757s drifting out over the glassy harbor. Finally, on the second floor of the Argyros Francophonic manse, someone closed a curtain; we declared victory and went to Diedrich Coffee. When the district attorney's office sued Argyros' apartment company for systematically ripping off its tenants, we were there to broadcast the news. When we discovered that Argyros was involved in the construction of a Wal-Mart in the middle of a tranquil Huntington Beach neighborhood that didn't want the store, we thanked him—for leading us into a sordid tale of corruption in the city mayor's office. And in March 2004, while he served as George W. Bush's ambassador to Spain (that's what raising $30 million for the president's election campaign will buy you), we pointed out that, in a small way, his effort to push Spain into Bush's Iraq war coalition had led to the March 11 Madrid bombings, the defeat of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a few days later, and a rise in anti-Americanism across the Iberian peninsula. That's what putting a real estate developer with no Spanish and limited social skills into the ambassador's... More >>>