Or is Campbell simply a long-term psychopath who has finally been exposed?
Then Bennett held a stunning, unprecedented news conference this afternoon in which he called Campbell an abusive, intimidating bully who swore and spit at him during a caucus meeting.
And then Campbell cancels the 15% income tax cut he announced just weeks ago in his October 27 television address, a last ditch effort to boost his failed fortunes. Campbell surprise cut of the tax cut came, he claimed, to give options to his successor to chart government policy.
But overshadowing it all were Bennett's stunning accusations.
"I’m tired of the bullshit that goes on politics and I’m really tired of the way that Gordon Campbell thinks that he can just run on people," Bennett told astonished reporters.
"He can run on me, I’m a tough guy, I can take it. But I’ve seen him do it to other people in caucus, you have almost a battered wife syndrome inside our caucus today, inside our cabinet, it’s really sad and all the man has to do to give the B.C. Liberal party a chance to renew itself is to leave,” Bennett said.
"I think you are all aware he is a very, very intimidating human being and does have a temper, does talk to people disrespectfully in caucus - I've seen him do it dozens and dozens of times," Bennett told reporters.
"He got so angry at me.. that he actually spit in my face," Bennett recounted about a time he criticized Campbell over a caucus retreat.
"He's not a nice man," Bennett said. "He's not a nice man."
The disclosures by Bennett echo similar comments about Campbell's abusive behavious behind closed doors towards Elayne Brenzinger, a first-term BC Liberal MLA who made the mistake of criticizing Campbell in a caucus meeting.
"Fuck you too, Elayne," Campbell reportedly told the Surrey-Whalley MLA in front of her shocked colleagues.
Brenzinger told the Globe and Mail in 2005 she quickly learned that "in caucus you couldn't stand up and challenge him, it just wasn't done."
But, as the Globe's Mark Hume reported, Brenzinger wasn't one to sit meekly by, and when she got a chance to send a zinger at Mr. Campbell, in a caucus meeting, she did.
What happened next shocked her.
Today British Columbians got another glimpse inside that cult - and it isn't a pretty sight.
UPDATE 1: Bill Bennett says he regrets using the "almost battered wife" analogy to describe caucus and cabinet's response to Premier Gordon Campbell bullying approach.
And Campbellis denying that he is a bully.
"You really don't hold a party, a caucus and a cabinet together for 17 years by being a bully. You do it by respecting the input of your colleges, by encouraging conversation and debate, encouraging ideas to be brought forward and bringing these together to make decisive actions to improve the quality of life for British Columbians," he told the Victoria Times-Colonist's Rob Shaw.
UPDATE 2: I recalled overnight that during the BC Legislature Raid pre-trial hearings, defence lawyers for David Basi and Bob Virk alleged in court that Campbell had blown another gasket complete with F-word tirade.
Here's what I wrote in April 24, 2007:
In the highly controversial allegation related to the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail, Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough said B.C. Liberal Party Executive Director Kelly Reichert was taped by police in a call to Basi on Oct. 28, 2003, discussing a situation where Premier Campbell's Press Secretary Mike Morton sat with OmniTRAX, one of the companies bidding for the rail company, along with their lobbyists from Pilothouse Public Affairs, at a Liberal fundraising dinner.
"Reichert says he gave Gord a three-page memo on Saturday. Gord was yelling at Reichert because Mike Morton had fucked up. There was a dinner where Mike Morton is positioned with OmniTRAX -- he's at the Pilothouse table," McCullough said.
Of course we now know that two of Pilothouse's partners, Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, are key witnesses for the Crown against Basi and Virk, while the third, former Liberal Party of Canada B.C. president Jamie Elmhirst, has been subpoenaed to testify in the trial.
NOTE: The above are obvious exceptions to this blog's general prohibition on use of the F-word - the facts require its use in these circumstances.