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Administration Lubrication
February 5, 2002
by Paul Winkelmann

One natural property of oil is that when it is combined with most anything else, it tends to separate and rise to the top. We've had an opportunity to see this phenomenon demonstrated on many occasions.

When Iran was governed by a brutally oppressive Shah, it was his America-friendly oil policy that kept him floating far above our government's reproach. The Shah limited his terror to Iran's citizenry so we turned a blind wallet to his misdeeds. Iran's current regime overthrew the Shah and extended its terror beyond its own borders. We are against terrorists (well at least some terrorists, the president even said so) so we try to keep our distance from them. But I have no doubt that their radical leanings are a minor drawback that our government would overlook if only Iran would be just a little bit more cooperative with our nation's oil companies.

An Iraqi experiment in mixing two dissimilar components, our Kuwaiti oil interests and Saddam's dream of expanding his own regional power, was declared a scientific disaster when our military skewed Iraq's test results. America's might kept Kuwait from settling to the bottom of Saddam's laboratory beaker. This disagreement we had with Iraq hasn't kept us from purchasing Iraqi oil though. We disguise it as food funding but everyone knows the profit goes into financing the creation of weapons of mass destruction. Maybe one day BP Amoco will put a centrifuge into operation that can separate the terror money from the food money. Until then, Saddam is free to make anthrax by the barrel-full.

It was the promise of an Afghani oil and gas pipeline that made our current president forget all about the transgressions of the Taliban and their most infamous guests. Bush's $40 million gift to Afghanistan in early 2001 and his administration's stalling of counter-terrorism investigations aimed at the al Qaeda and the Taliban regime illustrates that even when encased in a long cylindrical piece of pipe, oil (and its influence) is still a remarkably buoyant cure for scruples.

The noxious fumes created by highly-compressed and super-heated prehistoric flora have always risen up to cloud America's foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia. It doesn't matter how many terrorists are funded, trained, or given safe haven by the Saudis, the vaporous toxicity of oil profits has made our country's voice of condemnation squeamishly silent when dealing with these particular "supporters of terrorism." Even the president's dad doesn't mind frolicking around in the glistening slick of Saudi petro-dollars. It has made him, all his old administration buddies, and all their future heirs quite a bundle.

Another distinguishing property of any petroleum product is what an amazing lubricant it makes.

Witness the eel-like contortions of the ever so buttery Vice President, Dick Cheney. Dozens of oil company positions have left him with a permanent 10w30-like coating. It has enabled him slip-slide his way around Congressional and GAO demands that he hand over all paperwork related to his secret energy policy meetings. He claims that no one would offer him advice if the authors of that advice and the advice itself, weren't kept from public scrutiny.

Do we honestly want the country being led around by the nose, by unmentionable sources who stand to profit from the policy they're concocting in Cheney's bunker? If it's impartial and beneficial to the country, then how could it possibly be embarrassing or harmful to its proponents? But what do I know? I'm just a private citizen who isn't going to get a few hundred thousand campaign dollars or a seat on some energy company's board of directors a few years after the policy is implemented. Cheney is just oily enough to get both.

And whoops, when the Enron Lay-dez ran aground, spilling its entire cargo of 401k's and jobs, the oil (and natural gas and electricity) soaked captain, Kenneth Lay, was able to drag himself safely to shore, smoothly gliding through the lubed up palms of every government regulatory agency in existence. Lay barely survived. At last count, he was down to his last six vacation homes.

As the shiny black film was spreading towards the White House, the Vaseline-tongued spokesman for the President assured the American public that Captain Lay's distress calls went unanswered by the administration (an administration that was up to its neck in Enron ex-employees and ex-stockholders who were all on Lay's speed-dial). And that, honest, Bush had no prior knowledge of his friend's predicament.

What is not mentioned is that Lay's bestest buddy, President Bush, had already thrown Captain Lay; a FERC boss, a California energy crisis bonanza, some very Enron-friendly regulations, a prominent voice in our country's energy policy, and that Bush was already preparing to toss Enron some tax rebate life preservers worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Another subject that didn't make Ari Fleischer's talking points was why, while the largest bankruptcy in American history was occurring, was there no governmental oversight. The most colossal retirement eating, paper shredding, device, known to man, was permitted to run unabated, 24/7, and nobody had the foresight to investigate the sound of its grinding sprockets and pinions. Its inner pieces, parts and lubricants were being expelled all across D.C. and our president never gave it a second thought, even when he found himself wading in a knee-deep pool of its gear grease.

The latest discovery about the properties of oil is that the riches made from it can cause a victim to lose his mental facilities and gain a sense of brazen invulnerability, on contact.

Six months worth of Alaskan oil will solve our energy woes. Oil won't harm Jeb's coast. Oil once gave me the Heimlich maneuver when I was choking. If we don't drill, the terrorists win. All plausible, if you've sniffed enough Texan Crude fumes.

Bush was there when Enron drove in its first drill, when they hit a gusher, and when everybody's ten-gallon hats were filled to the brim with million dollar bills. But now that the well is spewing out nothing but confetti, we are expected to believe that Bush can only identify Kenneth Lay as a Democratic supporter from his rival's distant past. REALLY! What next? The Holocaust never happened. We never landed on the moon. Fantastic history rewrites are usually the product of some slightly touched right-wing extremist, so why is Bush - oh - right...what was I thinking?

And his poor mother-in-law. She risked all her canasta winnings on Enron stock. Tens of dollars, gone in a puff of smoke. Now there's some real parenthetical evidence that Bush was completely in the dark.

Just like when he cashed out early on Harken Energy. Dad was serving as 41, the future 43 was one of 41's closer advisors but claims he was never let in on where and when 41 was going to rain holy hell on Saddam. 43 never suspected that his insider position on Harken's board obligated him to provide a timely notification, to the proper governmental regulatory agency, before he dumped any of his, soon to be worthless, stock. Soon to be worthless because, only a week later, the Gulf War made Harken's oil contracts in the Mid-East moot. So armed with the Gulf-War starting time, that he never received, 43, in what he can only describe as an episode of epiphany, made the decision to rid himself of Harken stock.

Bush's sloth-like reflexes enabled him to file his stock transaction with the SEC, a mere 6 months too late. This did not go unnoticed by the SEC. Luckily this was 41's SEC. They weren't as harsh on 43 as a real SEC might have been. They kinda enjoyed his "Gosh, I didn't know" routine. So, 43 scampered away with an obligatory slap on the wrist and a warning to be more attentive. And with, of course, all the profits that those sticklers for rules failed to pocket. Bush has long suffered from situational cluelessness and it has served him well over the years. And the timing - always impeccable.

Dubya's condition is symptomatic of someone languishing in the later stages of oil money exposure. For instance, Bush has a hard time recalling any conversations with Kenny-boy. It's a struggle for Bush to recollect any recent contact with Kenny-boy. Enron...duh - what's Enron? It's Harken redux. Either he doesn't care what the public thinks or he naively believes that we're buying this amnesia act. My money is riding on him being one of the dumbest oilmen since Jethro Bodine.

And this is the best part, the all-time slipperiest excuse for the whole Enron mess is that (drum roll please) "Clinton did it too." Yep, the administration that ran on the "We'll do everything opposite of Clinton" ticket, now finds itself pleading with the public to accept the fact that they are exactly like Clinton. Irony is so cruel.

If the past is any indicator, expect, at any moment, the president to issue a press release explaining how his administration, in the future, will avoid even the appearance of petroleum and petroleum byproducts. Expect it to be about as effective as was his "appearance of impropriety" declaration. Expect it to also include a veiled reference to the moral shortcomings of the previous administration unabashedly made by the ethically challenged current administration. Expect it to partisanly attack the lack of bi-partisanship within the ranks of the opposition.

Above all, expect it to include a call for a capital gains tax cut because, after all, "without this tax cut, petro-over-taxation threatens to destroy America and (insert flag reference), (insert another patriotic reference), (insert god loves America reference), (insert threat towards small terrorist harboring oil producing nation) NOTE: Do not mention larger oil producing countries who harbor terrorists and/or who employ dad, (insert "lucky to be serving as your president" conclusion)."

And, off course, expect this statement to be drafted at a secret meeting attended by Cheney and a few unnamed advisors. Who will then shred all evidence of their presence.

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