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The Weirdness of Bushworld

Reflecting on an action-packed week almost too absurd for words

| Mon Feb. 6, 2006 1:00 AM PST

Just in case you hadn't noticed, we're in a Bushworld too absurd for words. But that hasn't stopped this administration from yakking its collective head off.

Over the last week: The President came out for an ethanol-powered globe -- that's corn on the cob to you, buddy -- while his Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld announced that our poor planet had somehow gotten more terroristically dangerous since George took the helm. (No fault of his, natch.) Last Tuesday night, of course, the Great Helmsman stood on the congressional deck of state -- perhaps confusing it with the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln (Didn't anyone hear me? Mission accomplished!) -- and declared that we were on nothing less than the "road to victory" in Iraq. (Unfortunately, the message seems not to have gotten through to Iraqis lining that road with IEDs, possibly due to power outages in that country.) Intelligence "Tsar" John Negroponte visited Congress to deliver the news that Earth was virtually swarming with terrorist groups which already had their hands on WMD. (Sleep well, Virginia.) At the same time, multitasking like mad, the administration continued its noble war on T-shirts; the Pentagon put political cartoonists on notice that the military high command wasn't going to take a pen jab lying down (no sir!); and KBR, one of two subsidiaries of the Halliburton Corporation (the other being the U.S. government), received an almost $400 million dollar contract to build emergency "detention facilities" in the homeland (after much practice at Guantanamo). Oh yes, and in their spare time, the President and his closest advisors happily continued to exercise another of those handy prerogatives of the Commander-in-Chief in wartime by essentially amending the Constitution to wipe out the odd check or balance.

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Am I going too fast for you? Then, take a breath, buckle on your seatbelt, put on your helmet, check your oxygen gauge, and then let me beam these stories up to you one at a time (along with a few other gems stored in the Mother Ship of my brain).

George's Half-Step Program to Energy Independence So this was the year that the President of Oil discovered we were "addicted" to the stuff and, worse yet, that it came from "unstable parts of the world" -- hold on a sec, while I fill my gas tank -- but he also came up with a solution! Thanks to his Advanced Energy Initiative, ethanol, essentially a corn product, would power us into the future along with hybrid car engines and the odd nuclear power plant. Twenty years from now, he assured us in his State of the Union Address, we more or less won't know the Middle East exists.

Though our brush-cutting President did mention wood chips and switch grass, ethanol is essentially a corn product; and corn is our petroleum farm crop of choice, since growing it in quantity involves massive infusions of oil-based chemical fertilizer. So maybe we should consider George's ethanol-fix like one of those nicotine patches for cigarette smokers. Throw in some leftover radioactive waste from those nuclear plants his administration would love to hug into existence and it all made perfect sense to me... until the next day when an administration that had never heard of no-backsies took it all back. The President's suggestion about making 75% of Middle Eastern oil imports go away "was purely an example," insisted an embarrassed Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. And anyway, it turned out that none of it really mattered since, as Paul Krugman pointed out: "[T]he National Renewable Energy Laboratory is about to lay off staff because of budget cuts. ?A veteran researcher,' reports The New York Times, ?said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol.'" Of course, the President and his men generated enough wind last week to create a little extra power -- if only we'd put some money into alternative fuels.

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