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The Top Ten Conservative Idiots (No. 110)
May 19, 2003
Texas Toast Edition

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They like to do things big in Texas, which probably explains why they have some of the biggest conservative idiots in the country. The Texas redistricting fiasco fills up almost half of the list this week, with the Texas GOP, Tom Delay, Tom Craddick, Will Crais, and Dan Branch grabbing the top slots. But it's not all about Texas this week. Michael Graham (5) gives us a great example of how conservatives prefer logic to emotion, Team Bush Misinformation Squad (7) and Jeb Bush (9) make reappearances, and Star Spangled Ice Cream (10) takes the conservatives' warped idea of patriotism to new levels of dumb. Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

1Texas GOP partisanship partisanship partisanship partisanship partisanship
What do you do if you're a power-hungry Republican who decides that a 24-seat advantage in the House of Representatives is not good enough? Simple - you draw up a redistricting plan in Texas which would turn 17 Democratic seats and 15 Republican seats into 22 small, safe Republican districts and then pack the Democratic constituency into the remaining 10 districts. Redistricting is supposed to take place once every ten years, and the Texas districts were drawn by federal judges in 2001 after the Legislature failed to agree on a plan. But the Texas GOP recently decided to undo the judges' handiwork, and in a blatant power-grab attempted to use their majority in the Texas state Legislature to force through a re-redistricting plan which would target minorities and unfairly create safe new Republican seats. Not so fast! Since the Texas state Legislature can only legally operate with 100 of its 150 members, 58 Democrats said "screw you guys" and headed to Oklahoma to prevent the bill from being passed. Hats off to these brave Democrats for standing up to the power-mad GOP. They eventually returned to Texas last week having succesfully killed the bill, but in their absence conservative idiocy reigned, as you will soon see...

2Tom DeLay excessive spin excessive spin partisanship partisanship
So who was behind the Texas Takeover? Step forward House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. DeLay's crazy redistricting plan was the catalyst for a week-long orgy of red-faced GOP blustering after the Texas Dems walked out, and more than a little of the blustering came from DeLay himself. DeLay called the missing politicians "disloyal" (apparently Tom feels that all must kneel before him) and childishly mocked the Democrats' principled stand. But that wasn't enough for our Tom. Furiously overplaying his hand, "The Hammer" decided to call for federal investigators to "track down" the Dems (even though everyone knew they were staying in a Holiday Inn in Oklahoma) and even tried to get the Department of Homeland Security involved. He was rightfully lambasted on the House floor by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who said, "Not content as U.S. House Commander, redistricting czar, and map-maker for the Texas Legislature, J. Edgar DeLay apparently also seeks a job directing law enforcement."

3Tom Craddick and Will Crais partisanship partisanship
Meanwhile Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick was only too keen to start rounding up a posse to hunt for the missing Democrats, and called out state troopers to round up the "evildoers" and return them to Austin where they could be forced (in handcuffs, presumably) to watch the GOP steamroller its disgraceful redistricting bill through to passage. But things quickly got out of hand when a rumor - started by DPS officer Lt. Will Crais - that a small plane carrying the Democrats had crashed. And suddenly the Department of Homeland Security and the FAA were involved. Except there was no plane - most of the Democrats had traveled by bus. Democrats in Washington criticized Craddick and his over-the-top response last week. "Not since Richard Nixon and Watergate 30 years ago has anyone tried to use law enforcement agencies of the federal government for domestic political purposes," said Rep. Martin Frost. Rep. Jim Turner said it was "deeply disturbing" that federal resources were used to hunt for the Texas Democrats. And nine House Democrats wrote to Clark Kent Irvin, the acting inspector general at Homeland Security, saying, "If true, this report represents a shameful diversion of taxpayer resources for partisan purposes." But hey, haven't we learned after eight years of the GOP trying to bring down Bill Clinton that shamefully diverting taxpayer resources for partisan purposes is what Republicans do best?

4Dan Branch excessive spin excessive spin partisanship partisanship
Of course, getting the Department of Homeland Security involved meant that it's didn't take a great leap of some Republicans' imaginations to arrive at this despicable conclusion: "They're legislative terrorists and their leaving today is a weapon of mass obstruction, blocking hundreds of pieces of legislation," said Republican Rep. Dan Branch last week. Got that? Democrats who refuse to bow to power-crazed Republicans = terrorists. Standing up against the power mad GOP = using weapons of mass destruction. So much for uniting, not dividing. Democrats don't do what you tell them to do? Hell, they must be members of Al Qaeda.

5Michael Graham excessive spin excessive spin partisanship partisanship
But it looks like Republican radio talk show host Michael Graham has come up with the best solution for dealing with Democrats which irritate him. Appearing on Hardball last week, he discussed the topic of Hillary Clinton's recent speech on patriotism with Chris Matthews. Here's Graham's novel response to Clinton's speech: "Anyone listening to Hillary Rodham in her speech last week about patriotism, that screaming, screeching fingernail, I wanted to bludgeon her with a tire iron. That's what I wanted to do." Ah, compassionate conservatism at its finest. Democrats not bowing and scraping enough? Call them terrorists. Democrats saying something you don't like? Bludgeon them with tire irons. So much for the old "conservatives argue with facts, liberals argue with emotions" fallacy. Welcome to the 21st Century GOP, where a good beating is the remedy for what ails America. Oh, and just in case anyone's interested, Chris Matthews' response to Graham's disgraceful and irresponsible statement was, "Michael Graham, it was great having you joining us." Way to go, Chris.

6Senate Republicans fiscal irresponsibility fiscal irresponsibility
Preliminary investigations into the Enron scandal are obviously giving GOP lawmakers some useful tips on fuzzy accounting. "Senate Republicans resorted to budgetary sleight of hand on Thursday in pursuit of their twin goals of passing a $350 billion tax bill and granting President Bush's wish of erasing the taxes that people pay on corporate dividends," according to the Associated Press. To ensure passage of the tax cut, Republicans in the Senate apparently resorted to the use of such gimmicks as phasing out the dividend tax and reinstating it in 2007 - except they obviously have no intention of reinstating it. Dick Cheney broke the tie as the Senate voted along party lines, 51-50, for the Republicans' Enromonics tax cut. And all this as we face the biggest deficit in U.S. history. Three cheers for Our Great Leader's Great Economic Toilet Flush!

7Team Bush Misinformation Squad dumb
Media management is the order of the day for Team Bush. When George W. Bush appeared in Indianapolis last week to tell the lie that his tax cuts are for everyone, not just the rich, his Misinformation Squad had a problem with some of the audience members. It seems that putting a bunch of high-rolling Republicans behind Our Great Leader as he made his speech was going to clash with Bush's "I love ordinary folks" bullpoop. And so the Misinformation Squad came up with a great idea - have the high-rollers remove their ties! And thus it came to pass that Dubya made a speech about how much he loved regular Joes, while standing in front of a bunch of wealthy Republicans who'd taken their ties off. Sheer brilliance.

8Brad Crosby greed greed
There was no need to ask people to take off their ties in Omaha last week - Our Great Leader was making a speech at a plastics factory to promote the idea that his tax cuts will put more money in the working man's wallet. How ironic then that Brad Crosby, the factory's chief executive, told 300 of his hourly workers that they "might lose all or part of a day's pay unless they work next Saturday to offset the time lost when the plant closes for the speech," according to the New York Times. Crosby told the Associated Press that "Right from the beginning, we didn't want to see anyone take a cut in pay. We're just trying to be completely fair." Hey, sounds just like Dubya's "completely fair" tax cut, where everyone gets screwed. Oh - except the rich, of course. Which makes me ponder - did Brad Crosby lose his day's pay? Hmmm.... gee, I wonder.

9 Jeb Bush anti-choice
How low will Jeb Bush go? Florida newspapers reported recently on the sad story of a 22-year-old mentally disabled woman who was raped and impregnated. As the woman is too disabled to speak she can't help the police find the rapist, and since she has no family the state has appointed her a guardian. But obviously sensing a political opportunity, Jeb Bush stepped in last week and ordered state lawyers to also appoint a guardian for the woman's 6-month-old fetus. He overruled child welfare officials who said that since a fetus isn't a person, to appoint a guardian would be illegal. And so that's how low Jeb Bush will go, folks - he'll cynically use a mentally disabled rape victim to push his pro-life agenda. What a guy.

10Star Spangled Ice Cream excessive spin dumb partisanship
And finally, how could we resist this one? The CEO of Star Spangled Ice Cream appeared on CNN last week to hawk his new line of patriotic (read: hatemongering) frozen desserts. Star Spangled Ice Cream comes in flavors such as "I Hate The French Vanilla," "Smaller Governmint," and "Nutty Environmentalist," and their website proudly proclaims that "Like millions of your fellow Americans, you enjoy ice cream but do NOT enjoy seeing your money funneled to wacko left-wing causes." Ah, how can you not like an ice cream that contains the word "hate" in its name. Perfect for the kids. Hey, perhaps some other Republican businessmen could take a lesson from Star Spangled Ice Cream. It surely can't be long before we see "Patriotic Clip-On Ties - perfect for quick removal at Bush campaign events!" Or possibly "Michael Graham Tire Irons - guaranteed to withstand a lifetime of bludgeoning!" See you next week...

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