Friday, May 26, 2006

Bush's Enron Connection

Well, the Enron boys are going to prison sometime soon, and the right-wingers are probably going to spin it so that it comes out something like, "Our legal system prevailed, proving once again that no one is above the law" - assuming they say anything at all. What they will almost certainly try to downplay is any lingering chatter about the close relationship between Enron and George W. Bush that persisted well after Dubya was "elected" to office in 2000. "The president had no knowledge of Mr. Lay's illegal activities," they will insist. Funny how Bush's defenders claim he was well-briefed about things of which he was clearly woefully ignorant, and then plead ignorance on his behalf of activities in which he was immersed up to his eyeballs. And let us not forget Enron's prominent presence among the participants in Cheney's secret, closed-door energy policy conference. Should we be appropriately shocked that the nation's energy policy was being steered by a bunch of crooks? (Besides the ones in the White House and the Capitol, I mean?)

The other Republican who unfortunately escapes unscathed after benefiting immeasurably from Enron's dupliicity is, of course, the Governator himself, Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger. When the great state of California legally re-elected Gray Davis to the governorship (don't laugh; legitimate elections are becoming a rarity in this country), Golden State Republicans may well have struck a deal with Enron to jack up the price of energy while instituting unnecessary blackouts to further incense the populace. The final step was the public relations smear campaign to convince the voters that Governor Davis was responsible for the energy mess, when in fact he had done everything in his power to try to avert it. No matter; by then, Californians were hopping mad, and readily accepted the effigy of Gray Davis to burn while agreeing to the the unprecedented step of a gubernatorial "recall." Enter Mr. Schwarzenegger, driving an immense Hummer as proof of his intention to curb California's voracious appetite for energy. Still crazed from the lack of air-conditioning, California voters went on to recall the hapless Mr. Davis, and replace him with a gap-toothed Austrian who couldn't even pronounce the name of the state he was being elected to helm. (I don't suppose we should really be all that surprised; after all, California has a history of electing bad actors to become bad governors.)

Now, my question is this: should politicans be allowed to keep their positions if they are there largely (or solely) because of someone else having broken the law? In other words, is the reward legitimately kept if it has been gotten illegitimately? It is Bush and the Republicans, after all, who would have us strip steroid-takers like Bobby Bonds of his home-run records. Sorry, my friends - but if you subscribe to a double standard, then you are a hypocrite. Unless you truly enjoy being robbed and lied to at the same time...which would make you, I suppose, a Republican.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Funny or Not, Colbert Hit the Mark

Last week saw a mini-controversy in the wake of Stephen Colbert's appearance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. (A complete transcript of Colbert's remarks is available.) Colbert had been invited by the AP to do a version of his schtick from his Comedy Central show The Colbert Report (pronounced col-bare re-pore), in which he parodies pompous right-wing talking heads like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. Colbert delivered in spades, pretending to praise Bush while skewering him with sarcasm at every turn. Bush could be seen chuckling during the early part of Colbert's talk, but by the second half he was clearly seething.

Fox News
, which was the recipient of several of Colbert's barbs, was quick to condemn him as having transgressed "over the line." Other members of the press, perhaps feeling stung as well by Colbert's reminders that they had collectively given this administration a free pass until recently, piled on with comments like, "rude, ungracious, not funny." By contrast, everyone seemed wonderfully amused by Bush's silliness at the opening of the festivities, in which he and comic double Steve Bridges uttered parallel -- but contradictory -- comments.

If "taste" was the primary concern, then how to explain the nearly universal acceptance of Don Imus' comments at the same affair in 1996, in which he basically got up and insulted Bill and Hillary Clinton? Or, more to the point, Bush's extremely tasteless video sketch at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner in 2004 in which he scours the White House looking for the "missing" WMDs? Is the White House Press Corps still so afraid of offending President Dimwit that they rush to defend him from a satirist?

And, while we're on the subject, let's remind ourselves what "satire" is. It's not the sophomoric silliness that passes for comedy on most of the network sitcoms these days. Satire is supposed to make you think -- even scratch your head for a moment before recognition and mirth set in. I'm old enough to remember a satirist named Mort Sahl. When he spoke, you weren't exactly rolling on the floor laughing, but you got it, and you felt you had shared a special kind of understanding with the man.

There is something more than little disingenous about the American media, who parade the exploits of empty-heads like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as if these people actually had any redeeming qualities, and then get on their high horses and act offended because a comedian dared to tell the truth about a president who can't stop lying for a second.