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Beware the Yellow Rain
July 30, 2001
by Christopher Harrison

In an unforgettable scene at the beginning of the movie "The Outlaw Josie Wales," a murderous Senator Lane, after supervising the cold-blooded execution of a group of Missouri Civil War rebel holdouts, says, "Those men were properly treated. They were properly fed, and they were properly shot. . . . There is an old saying, 'To the victor belong the spoils.'"

Upon hearing this, Fletcher, one of the leaders of the Missouri holdouts who had talked them into surrendering to the Union, replies, "Senator, where I come from we also have a saying. 'Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.'"

Right now, Prime Minister Cheney is letting a yellow stream run down the back of the American people. The veil of secrecy under which his energy plan was developed speaks volumes as to where his true loyalties lie. After all, our "Oil Baron in Waiting" was CEO of Haliburton before accepting the vice presidency. Energy executives were treated as members of the "boys club" while environmental and consumer groups were left out like the little sister wanting to come up in the treehouse, only to be turned away by the "no girls allowed" sign posted at the doorway.

Incredulously, Mr. Cheney has stated that there was "adequate concern for the environment in this reportů." Tell that to the environmentalists and consumer rights advocates who were largely ignored throughout the formulation of the national energy (see: highway robbery) plan.

Finally, Democratic lawmakers are beginning to take action. Representatives Henry Waxman of California and John Dingell of Michigan have brought the General Accounting Office to bear on the Bush/Cheney Co-Presidency. The GAO is demanding the White House turn over the names of people who contacted the energy task force. The White House is playing their usual game of "spin, stall, spin some more."

After all, if you tell someone the same thing for long enough, they'll start to believe it. Democrats don't have the persistence of Republicans to stick to this issue. And let's not forget the Bushies have the Supreme Court on their side.

Cheney advisor Mary Matalin, in an apparent lapse of reason, stated, "If they want to know what happened in the meetings, look at what it spawned in legislation on the Hill." Thanks for the recommendation, Mary.

What it has spawned on the Hill is the Republican leadership running with the ball toward the end goal of an oil well, coal mine and power plant in every American's back yard. Don't worry about the residual waste from those power plants, either. You can just dump it in the nearby stream and it will wash away. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes.

Representative James Hansen of Utah, Chairman of the House Committee on Resources, commented during a recently televised debate, "If I had one word to describe this energy plan, that word would be 'realistic.'" I can think of another word for this energy plan, but I am not sure it is printable here.

Congressional Democrats need show some spine on this issue and run with it. Thus far they have not shown anything close to a real stand on core issues and beliefs since taking over control of the Senate. It is high time for them to take a page out of the right's playbook and operate in a spirit of pure vindictiveness.

I am sure that the Bushies are going to talk about "changing the tone in Washington" if this happens. Let them. The Republican leadership took a sexual relationship between a sitting President and a White House intern, and turned it into a national spectacle. They spent millions of taxpayer dollars on drumming up a political scandal, simply out of the spirit of their own disgruntlement over being restrained from dismantling the framework of every social program they could get their hands on.

Granted, this provided Jay Leno and Dave Letterman endless fodder for late-night television. But those millions of dollars could have been much better spent providing health care for those who cannot afford it or educational opportunities for inner-city or rurally poor children. But the Republican right would feel much better about themselves if they were able to use that money to satisfy their own egos and continue to line the coffers of their big-business campaign contributors.

This energy plan is a scandal of mammoth proportions. This is a case of big business being allowed to practically write their own agenda into law. The long-term ramifications could be costs in the billions of dollars to the American public; not to mention the further degradement of our air, soil and water. The energy companies will make money hand over fist for our suffering. At least someone will benefit. The Democrats need to continually hammer the Bushies on these facts and drag this grotesque spectacle into the spotlight. The American people deserve better.

Bush/Cheney has put the fox in charge of the henhouse and is now telling us that the henhouse has never been safer. Put on your raincoats, America. I think showers are moving toward the Potomac.

The author is the trade issues lead for the Lower Hudson (NY) Sierra Club.

 
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