Time was that Oscar Wyatt flew as high as one could fly in the Texas firmament. The Houston oilman was filthy rich, his stylish wife was in every society page, and his money attracted Democrats and Republicans alike.

At 83, his life has taken a turn that only Enron's Ken Lay could have appreciated for its deep, downward spiral. Mr. Wyatt confessed last week that he kicked money back to Saddam Hussein in return for buying the former Iraqi dictator's oil.

Despicably, Mr. Wyatt did it through a United Nations program that was supposed to let Iraq sell its oil and invest the proceeds in food programs for its many hungry kids. Instead, Mr. Wyatt simply bypassed starving kids and pushed the cash to a murderous tyrant, a devilish deal that assured the Texas wheeler-dealer a share of Mr. Hussein's oil.

The two went back way before the Persian Gulf War, but their relationship became front-page news in the run-up to that conflict. Mr. Wyatt journeyed to Baghdad in December 1990 with John Connally to negotiate the release of American hostages.

Their trip was against the wishes of President George H.W. Bush, who knew Mr. Hussein intended to use the hostage release to look good and buy time. The president's view didn't bother Mr. Wyatt or Mr. Connally, rivals of Mr. Bush from years gone by.

When you add it up, Oscar Wyatt's story has been one of intrigue and rivalry, as much as it was about oil. He was a screenwriter's dream, a living embodiment of the swaggering Texas buccaneer.

But now, like Mr. Lay before him, he has fallen as far as a person can fall. We just wish his trial had gone on longer so the world could have learned more about all the other dirty dealing that went on in Mr. Hussein's exploitation of the oil-for-food program.

We won't get that because Mr. Wyatt folded his hand. He slinks from the scene in deserved disgrace, another Texas star crashed to the ground.

—The Dallas Morning News