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Was Eliot Spitzer a Political Target?

There's no need to recount the sordid saga that brought an abrupt end to the political career of the "Sheriff of Wall Street," former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. While he's now enjoying a second act as co-host of the CNN primetime program "Parker Spitzer," it was less than two years ago that he drummed out of politics.

But was it simply a sex scandal that brought him down? Or did he create enough enemies on Wall Street that his ruin was simply a matter of time? Among the powerful men targeted by Spitzer were former AIG chairman Hank Greenberg, Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone and former New York State Senator Joseph Bruno.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney examines this question in his new documentary "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer."

Gibney explained to CBS News' John Dickerson (who, like Spitzer, writes for Slate magazine) what intrigued him about the Spitzer scandal. "There was this rather spectacular scandal," Gibney said, "but there were some mysteries in it that seemed unsolved."

Gibney said he was struck by the timing of the financial collapse on Wall Street in relation to Spitzer's fall. "The timing seemed odd," he said. "Just as Wall Street markets were melting down, Spitzer disappeared from the scene."

To be sure, Gibney isn't laying all the blame on Spitzer's enemies. He said the man in question certainly did his part to aid in his own destruction.

"I found in fact that, in terms of the prostitution scandal Eliot Spitzer has no one to blame but himself... What I do find interesting is that because he did create such powerful enemies," he said. "I think his enemies did come after him. Not only enemies in business but also in the federal government."

Gibney added, "If you call it a political hit, you'd have to say that Eliot Spitzer provided the gun and the ammunition."

Now that the dust has cleared, Spitzer has gone to great lengths to get himself back in the good graces of the public.

"I think he's taking it one step at a time," Gibney told Dickerson. "F. Scott Fitzgerald once said 'there are no second acts in American lives.' I think there are not only second acts in American lives -- maybe third or fourth acts. I think Spitzer's on his second act and maybe looking toward a third."

So, what's the possible 'third act' for Spitzer?

"I think he can't help himself but to want to get back into political life," Gibney said. "I think that's what he feels is his mission in life. In some way, shape or form, I think he's trying to see if there's an opportunity for him to do so. The high bar will be to see if people will trust him again."

Watch Monday's Washington Unplugged above, also featuring CBS News senior political producer Rob Hendin traveling with President Obama on his 10-day trip to Asia and Chicago Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief and Politics Daily columnist Lynn Sweet on what lies ahead when he returns home.

Lauren Seifert
Lauren Seifert is an associate producer for You can read more of her posts here. For more Washington Unplugged, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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