This story has been updated
Michael Lewis, the celebrated author of "The Big Short," claims that about 40 or 50 House Republicans skipped a hearing by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke last fall to spend three hours with him talking about the financial crisis.
And the lawmakers, who are members of the House Republican book club, were stunningly uninformed about major elements of the crisis, says Lewis, during a recent conversation with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter:
"And their questions were increasingly: 'Oh my God, Goldman Sachs did what? A.I.G. did what?' They didn't understand it ... At the end, there was smoke coming out of their ears. I thought they were going to go kill someone at the end of it,.. The minute they started to understand, they were outraged. And I think the more things are explained, the more outraged people will get."
At first, several dozen of the lawmakers told Lewis that they were going to leave early to attend the Bernanke hearing but they stayed because "they said, 'We never learn anything from him [Bernanke], he never explains anything to us'," according to Lewis.
One of the attendees, former Dole speechwriter Douglas MacKinnon, disputes some of Lewis's description of the session, adding that it took place on October 1, 2009 and not December 3, as we speculated based on Lewis's timeline. Thus, this appears to be the Bernanke hearing that the House Republicans skipped.
At the start of this video, Lewis jokes, "Can you believe the House Republicans have a book group?" To which Carter chimes in, "That they even have one?"