Always, it's theirs for the taking: the front pages and the prime-time spaces. Theirs is the image of the real power behind the throne, regardless of who for the time being is sitting on it.
Faces of Trinidad and Tobago's anti-heroic superstars were once again last week filling the billboards promoting the latest in the blockbuster series titled "Ish and Steve". From the advertised storyline, this latest looked like the most apocalyptic of all the Ish and Steve screenplays.
This new projection of derring-do appeared capable of reducing to ruin the reigning principalities and powers of the People's Partnership. Could the Terrible Two have actually contrived the passage and proclamation of legislation not only to set themselves forever free, but also, if necessary, to doom the livings and the prospects of a client government?
At midweek, Opposition Leader Keith Rowley claimed to have seen a cheque for the $2 million that presumably bought such surpassing, and suicidal, favours. A government so traduced appeared in real and present danger of blowing what was left of the consent of the governed.
Never in its turbulent 28 months had the People's Partnership looked more terminally soiled from backroom association with Ish and Steve. As editorialists and others thundered demands for the Prime Minister to "come clean", a rigorous criminal interrogation got underway about what had been proclaimed, when and why.
Whatever else might be known or alleged about Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, big-name executives and entrepreneurs connected with the 1990s Piarco Airport redevelopment project, the revealed character of the present government now topped all that. For it had to be supposed that there was larceny in the wretched soul of a government so desperate as to imagine it could get home free by putting one past the Parliament and the public.
And all for what? For the dollars supplied by the "financiers", the term by which Ish and Steve are interminably identified. Absent rules requiring who is contributing what to political parties, alleged donors and recipients may neither confirm nor deny the funding, let alone reveal the amount.
Will the $2 million cheque shown to Dr Rowley by some double agent have covered costs of the light aircraft trailing People's Partnership messages over Mid Centre Mall? Or met the bills of imported campaign advisers and of local entertainers?
As always in T&T, facts and information are in crisis. This time, however, crisis is heightened by the inexplicable proclamation of that clause in that Act of Parliament, swiftly followed by Ish and Steve's self-thrusting into the loophole thereby opened. In the absence of explanation, everything appeared to bear the open-and-shut flavour of a dastardly plot, involving the sovereign Parliament as an unwitting pawn.
That Ish and Steve are still around to make news by every least resort to the High Court is itself a story that won't go away. That they did not end up shackled before a US judge, like Allen Stanford, former Antigua-based financial high-flyer, is the result of T&T Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh's ruling against their extradition.
At time of his ruling, the Ish and Steve proceedings had been the "longest running" in T&T history, entailing production of millions of documents. Still, the judge resisted their transfer to what he called the "allegedly more efficient and effective" American system.
The Americans had long prepared scores of indictments against the two for alleged violation of US laws. Stateside prosecutors and courts were ready to move.
Justice Boodoosingh held it preferable to try Ish and Steve in T&T. Ten months later, neither indictment nor arraignment has observably proceeded here. Last week, the US Embassy, noting such stalling, affirmed continuing interest in their extradition to a happening place.
Typically, T&T judges never err on the side of fostering the credibility of the system of which they are part. T&T justice blinds itself from sight of common sense and public purpose.
In June 1992, Justice Clebert Brooks notoriously set free jihadist coup makers. With rhetorical flourish, the Appeal Court upheld Brooks' finding that the Muslimeen possessed a valid amnesty.
Eventually, the Privy Council overruled both High and Appeal Courts. But by then, T&T justice had had its own way.
Flash forward to today's Justice Minister, the wild card that Kamla Persad-Bissessar had sensationally pulled from the judicial pack to play that winning hand in May 2010. It turns out, from his own account, that Minister Herbert Volney had championed the policy of proclaiming the trouble clause.
The Cabinet endorsed his idea to take "the hard and morally right decision to be strong and to lead and to shave off all the dead wood and old cases". The floodgates thereby opened, plutocrats Ish and Steve took the plunge. But Mr Volney's aim was to liberate the "poor man … locked up for over ten years" but unable to afford hotshot lawyers.
Mr Volney, having led the absent-minded Cabinet into its most serious trouble, is playing himself as a wild card once again. He now accuses Cabinet colleagues of coveting his parliamentary seat, and of taking bribes. Only Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, who personally bought the Volney package, must decide if the price is one her People's Partnership can still bear.