After Earth Day,
Mother Nature Beckons Bush
April 24, 2001
Many people dread holidays because they know they will find themselves
alone, outcast in a world full of people celebrating a special event.
Until now, Earth Day was not known to cause this kind of dread in anybody.
But now Earth Day 2001 has come and gone, and we find ROTUS in a state
of panic. The White House Office of Damage Control (ODC) is desperately
seeking ways to change the image of their boy, Shrub, from that of a complete,
total, outright, unconditional, full-fledged, through-and-through Enemy
of the Environment.
In less than four months, Shrub's moves against the environment have
been so nakedly aggressive that the effort to create an exact opposite
image in just a few days is quite a challenge for the ODC. Not helping
the cause is Shrub's abysmal environmental track record in Texas. Since
leaving Texas, Shrub has pushed for drilling in ANWR by talking up an
energy crisis (even as he talked down the economy) and playing up the
stereotype of Arabs and other foreign oil producers out to "control the
US" through the viscous black gold. Why should US consumers pay foreign
companies for oil when they can pay the same jacked-up prices to American
Oil is also apparently thicker than blood. Or is it? Shrub gave the go-ahead
to drill in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida's coast despite opposition
from his brother, the governor. This tweak at Jeb is all the more astounding
because without Jeb's supreme efforts, Shrub would likely be back in Texas
not commuting death sentences, not cleaning up the environment, and not
helping the state return to fiscal health after two huge tax cuts left
crushing budget shortfalls. Jeb must be very disappointed that he must
settle for watching this exploitation of the Gulf enrich his family's
Then, of course, there's Shrub's claim that reducing arsenic in drinking
water to 10 parts per billion is "unscientific" and "too expensive." The
greenhouse gas limitations in the Kyoto Treaty are also "unscientific"
and "too expensive." As if this wasn't enough to establish Shrub as Earth
Enemy #1, he also did a 180 on his own campaign promise to support limits
on CO2 emissions. To Shrub, science and partisanship go hand in hand.
If science supports his friends it's good, otherwise, it's bad.
In terms of expense, it is true that the cost to industry of lowering
arsenic and greenhouse gas levels is higher than the amount of their donations
to Shrub's campaign and post-installation festivities combined.
So Little Time, So Much Spin
Even though Shrub backpedaled on his idea to feed irradiated beef to
our kids, the ODC is clearly not resting on that particular laurel to
show how great he is for the environment. The ODC's ambitionless goal
is to have Shrub appear "green enough" for those ordinary Americans who
aren't paying attention to what he actually does (i.e., the gullible "swing"
voters who, with the radical right plus and buttinsky justistas voted
for Shrub.) So this past week, ROTUS has been busy, busy, busy. At an
elaborate ceremony on the White House lawn, with Whitman and Colin Powell
in tow, ROTUS signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants,
which the Wall Street Journal, of all newspapers called "a relatively
The right-wing press, it appears, has no problem here. The treaty has
the backing of environmentalists and, significantly, of the chemical industry.
No conflict of industry there. Plus, the twelve toxic chemicals banned
by the treaty are already banned in the US and other developed
nations. Even better, the treaty does not go into effect until four or
five years after it's approved. So there will be no chance for the good
ol' chemical boys to complain to Shrub if they then decide the treaty
is "unscientific" and too expensive to implement.
The ODC has also decided to take the unprecedented step of letting two
whole Clinton administration environmental rules in effect. Shrub is ballyhooing
his support for a Clinton rule that sets aside thousands of acres of wetlands
and closes a loophole in the Clean Water Act that was favorable to the
construction industry. Of course, how effective this rule will be depends
entirely on how much scrutiny those big, bad construction boys come under
from Christie Whitman's EPA and on how vigorously John Ashcroft's justice
department defends the government in the construction industry's lawsuit
over this rule.
Shrub is also busy tooting his own horn because the ODC has allowed
him to uphold a Clinton rule slashing factory emissions levels that trigger
reporting requirements, which expands the number of companies that now
have to report lead emissions. Of course, how effective this rule will
be depends entirely on how much scrutiny those big, bad lead-producing
factory owners come under from Christie Whitman's EPA and on how vigorously
John Ashcroft's justice department defends the government in the industry
lawsuit over this rule.
One would think that Mother Nature would have had it with Shrub by now.
His last name must be an even further affront to her sensibilities. Why
hasn't Mother Nature just swallowed him up to save herself? The truth
is, she'd probably have to spit him back out again.