Though over 17,000 people petitioned against Gebran Bassil attending the World Economic Forum as Lebanon's representative, he still made it out to Davos ... and, well, got grilled while he was there.
In a panel discussion moderated by CNBC's senior international correspondent and anchor in the Middle East Hadley Gamble on Thursday, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) attempted to justify his role as former foreign minister. But no one, not even Gamble, was buying it. She challenged Bassil multiple times during the 60-minute discussion and gave us all the satisfaction that "hela hela ho" couldn't.
Her questions, comments, and facial expressions were confrontational at best, savage at worst. Basically, she said everything Lebanese citizens have been wanting to say to Bassil's face but never got the chance to. And she did it in front of an audience, both online and off.
Bassil, the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, lost his post as foreign minister when a new government was announced this week following months of political deadlock, economic collapse, and ongoing protests.
Despite no longer being part of Lebanon's government, Bassil said people at the World Economic Forum "insisted" that he joins.
"They insisted on this invitation. You too, you decided with the gentleman here organizing this debate on my presence," he said during the panel.
Other panelists included Sigrid Kaag, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, and Chairman of Damac Properties Hussein Sajwani.
Now, let's get to the good stuff. Who doesn't love a good barbecue, right?
There were several comments, statements, and head nods that were truly worth some kind of prize or just a standing ovation, really.
They should go down in the book of "barbecuing like a pro" as standards to be used by future roasters looking to get the job done the right way.
Anyway, I've compiled some of the most iconic moments of the panel discussion. If you haven't watched the entire video, this would be a short compilation of the best moments. And if you have already watched it, these moments are worth a second-watch.
When Gamble asked Bassil how he got to Davos ... and he said "on my own expenses"
Gamble basically asked Bassil if he took a private plane to get to Davos. He heard the question and didn't even flinch. It's like he knew this question was coming and had his answer ready. Maybe he rehearsed it 10 times on the private plane to Switzerland?
"ON MY OWN EXPENSES," the FPM leader reiterated several times at the start of the panel discussion.
"Don't ministers make like $5,000 a month? How does one charter a plane on $5,000 a month?" Gamble asked Bassil. He brushed her question aside, insisting that "not one Lebanese lira on the expense of the Lebanese treasury."
"Family money," she continues. "No, this was offered to me," Bassil responded.
The discussion then revolved around how having "such friends" is basically not allowed when you work in government. Bassil just sat there wallowing in humiliation.
When Bassil referred to Lebanon's president and Gamble reminded him that Aoun is his father-in-law
They were talking about how Bassil is no longer part of the Lebanese government and how some people are angered (they actually signed a petition against it) by the fact that he's representing Lebanon at WEF.
Bassil attempted to explain that he could be there even if he's just a former minister now, and that "they" insisted he joins, and then said:
"The president of the republic asked me to represent him, but ..." and that's when Gamble cut him off to say "your father in law." Just like that. So easy, so simple, and so divine. [Min: 4:47]
When Bassil talked about "wrong policies" and got cornered
When talking about the situation in Lebanon, Bassil attempted to explain that we are in the crisis we're in because of "wrong policies adopted since 30 years [sic]."
"The responsibility of the Lebanese government is to take the challenge themselves and hold the responsibility of changing and reforming the system," Bassil said.
While he was talking, Gamble jumped in to remind Bassil of his years-long role in government.
"Aren't you responsible ... because you've been part of that government for a while." He just didn't want to listen and kept uttering his words while she was speaking. [Min: 7:48]
When Gamble pointed out Bassil's empty "electricity" promises
"Minister of Electricity all those years ... what happened ... you said there would be 24/7 electricity," Gamble asked the FPM leader, who served as Lebanon's Minister of Energy and Water in 2011. [Min: 15:20]
Saag intervened as well, reminding Bassil of the fuel-burning and power-generating floating boats in Lebanon that were brought in to supply electricity to a country that can't keep its lights on. They've harmed (and continue harming) the environment and haven't even resolved Lebanon's electricity problem.
"Let me be clear on people who don't know the reality," Bassil said and proceeded to talk about how the Lebanese have always emigrated abroad. It was his introduction to his ridiculous lecture about how his "amazing and massive" political party really wants to resolve things in the country but that decisions in government won't allow for that to happen, especially when his party doesn't have majority seats.
He says things like "Lebanese are successful by nature" and "we have a malfunctioning system because of confessionalism."
"Don't you think you're supporting confessionalism?" Gamble asked.
When Bassil kept mentioning his political party every few minutes
Continuing where I left off in the previous point, Bassil explained that his party attempted to reform different sectors in hopes of improving electricity, trash, etc ... but they were not able to do so because *drum roll* ... "we don't have the majority in the parliament."
Isn't that reinforcing the idea of a confessional and sectarian split? That they would've been able to change things only if they had more seats in both the government and parliament? We all know it's BS.
"If you're not getting to where you need to be because you can't find a majority, then isn't it about time to call it quits?" Gamble asks.
When Bassil said "lemme continyu" and "you know" too many times to count
He said the phrase "let me continue" several times throughout the 60-minute panel. Mansplaining or what? I didn't keep a record of all the times he said it but here are a few: at [Min:18:52], [Min: 41:16], and then again at [Min: 41: 22] and then again two seconds later at [Min: 41:24] ... and, well, we'll continue another time.
He also said the phrase "you know" seven times in two minutes. That's a bit too much, you know? He said the phrase at [Min: 41:18], [Min: 41:55], [Min: 42:13], [Min: 42:25], [Min: 42:29], [Min: 42:39], and [Min: 43:02]. Who knows how many times he said it during the whole panel, 350?