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The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 177)

November 1, 2004
Crawford Calling Edition

This week, it just couldn't be done. I sat down to start writing the Top Ten as usual, and realized that it was simply impossible. Too much stuff had happened in the last week to squeeze into ten neat slots.

So for the final Top Ten before the election, things are a little different. Below you'll still find the most egregious examples of conservative behavior from last week, but not in any particular order.

Tomorrow we go to the polls. The failures of this administration are dismal and far-reaching, and Bush's effect on America and the world over the last four years has been nothing short of disastrous. You probably don't need me to tell you that. But if you need a last minute reminder, read on. And remember - everything documented below happened in the last seven days.

Repeat After Me: We're Safer Than Ever, And We're All Going To Die


George W. Bush had a comedic mishap at a campaign event when stagehands fired off confetti cannons five minutes before the end of his speech.

There was never really any doubt that Osama bin Laden would show up before the election - the only real question was how. Would there be another terror attack? Would Bush drag him out in chains and parade him before the cameras? The answer was revealed last week when a new video tape made by bin Laden was broadcast on Al Jazeera television. Despite the pundits' analyses, the content of the tape was largely irrelevant - after all, who would believe anything that comes out of the mouth of the most wanted man in the world, an acknowledged mass murderer? What grabbed America's attention was simply the appearance of such a tape and what it would mean for the upcoming election.

One of John Kerry's most important campaign messages, a message that he hammered home time and again during the debates, was that by invading Iraq, George W. Bush weakened the war on terrorism - that Bush let bin Laden escape through the mountains of Tora Bora and instead focused everyone's attention on the far-less-important Saddam Hussein. The appearance of a new tape by bin Laden certainly served to make Kerry's point.

Bush, on the other hand, had been trying to spread the mixed message that America Is More Secure (And We're Going To Get Attacked Again). Essentially his entire campaign has been based on this strangely passive-aggressive concept - that Americans should be living in fear of massive terrorist strikes while simultaneously embracing the suggestion that invading Iraq made us safer. To this end, Bush insists that only by staying the course under his strong steady leadership can we ensure that there will never be another 9/11. That's all bullshit, naturally.

But when has bullshit ever stopped the Bush administration?

FLIP: For example, last week it was revealed that a Bush political appointee in the Customs and Border Protection bureau formulated a strategy intended to "change perception" about America's security by "repeating the message, in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, that America is safer." The purpose of the "90 Day Strategy" was to "maximize the media" and "brand the Border Protection bureau as a model of counterterrorism operations." "Repeat the message. Repeat until we are completely exhausted by it," said the strategy, conjuring up images of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

FLOP: Contrast that with Dick Cheney's current job, which is scaring the shit out of the American people. On the campaign trail last week he said, "terrorists will grow only more determined... and the risk will increase that they'll get their hands on deadlier weapons than anything we've seen yet." Since Homeland Security quashed the Border Protection bureau's strategy, can we assume Cheney's message of fear is the one the Bush campaign prefers?

FLIP: Don't assume anything. At a campaign event in Florida last week George W. Bush told his followers, "don't overlook discerning Democrats - people like Senator Zell Miller. When you get them headed to the polls, remind them, if they want a safer America, a stronger America, and a better America, to put me and Dick Cheney back in office."

FLOP: Bush changed his mind in Michigan though, telling supporters, "Americans go to the polls at a time of ongoing threats unlike any we have faced before." And there was Cheney again, this time in Pennsylvania, saying, "We've all seen in the last day or two the tape of Osama bin Laden now. It's a reminder we are engaged in a global war on terror."


George Bush wasn't the only person to have a confetti mishap.

So what's the consensus? Well, Bush said in a recent interview that "Whether or not we can be ever fully safe is up - you know, is up in the air." Jeez, I thought Kerry was supposed to be the wobbly one.

Okay, back to the video. Other members of Bush's Jekyll-and-Hyde campaign were positively gleeful that bin Laden was still alive, well, and threatening America. The New York Daily News reported that a senior GOP strategist called the tape "a little gift," and said "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush." Even John McCain was eager to get in on the act. "It's very helpful to the president," he said. Pardon me while I vomit.

And of course, cable news talking heads were more than happy to spread the idea that bin Laden's tape spelled good news for Bush. Rather than comment on the truth - that is, that Bush ignored al Qaeda until 9/11, then promised to get bin Laden "dead or alive," then said "I'm honestly not that concerned about him," then forgot all about him until this latest appearance - they decided to buy into the ridiculous spin that bin Laden wants to elect Kerry. Take this exchange between Alan Colmes and Neil Cavuto on Fox News, for example:

COLMES: "It's not like he (Osama bin Laden) had a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker in his cave."

CAVUTO: "But he's all but doing that, isn't he? I thought I saw a button."

Meanwhile FBI and Homeland Security officials were passing around a memo which noted, "we cannot discount the possibility that the video may be intended to promote violence or serve as a signal for an attack" - an attack which would, presumably, be yet more proof that America is safer under George W. Bush.


George W. Bush had to stop using "Still the One" as his campaign song after the song's composer John Hall protested its use and then endorsed John Kerry for president.

By the way, if you're wondering what Bush is doing about the reappearance of Osama, you'll be pleased to know that on Saturday he "held a videoconference call with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and the heads of the CIA , FBI and departments of Justice and Homeland Security," and "directed them to make sure all action is being taken in regards to the tape." And if the action taken in regards to the tape is anything like the action taken in regards to September 11, it probably won't be long before we... well, ignore bin Laden for another few years.

Fun With High Explosives

The fallacy that Bush is making the world safer was graphically exposed last week when the New York Times reported that "The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations."

Bad news coming out of Iraq? Surely not.

It's the Iraqi government's fault.
The Bush administration's initial reaction - "it's the Iraqi government's fault" - was belied by the revelation that Condi Rice knew about the looting of the Al Qaqaa storage facility weeks ago... and the subsequent revelation that the International Atomic Energy Agency specifically warned U.S. officials in 2003 that this would happen.


It was revealed that George W. Bush decided to let two major programs intended to secure loose nuclear material lapse "because Russia declined to accept a change in the agreement that would shield U.S. firms from liability for worker safety."

So... is Our Great Leader is more concerned with the safety of corporations than he is with the safety of the American people? You be the judge.

It wasn't long before the Kerry campaign was on the offensive over this latest Bush blunder; they quickly released a statement saying, "George W. Bush who talks tough and brags about making America safer has once again failed to deliver. After being warned about the danger of major stockpiles of explosives in Iraq, this administration failed to guard those stockpiles – where nearly 380 tons of highly explosive weapons were kept. Today we learned that these explosives are missing, unaccounted for and could be in the hands of terrorists."

It's not a big deal.
On the defensive, the administration's second reaction was to play down the news. Scott McClellan insisted that this was nothing but "some looting that went on in Iraq toward the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, or during and toward the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom."

You'll remember this line of thinking from Don Rumsfeld's underwhelming reaction to Iraqi looting back in - you guessed it, April 2003 - that freedom is "untidy" and "stuff happens."

Dick Cheney weighed in with the comment that Kerry's accusations were "just dead wrong ... just plain wrong on the facts." Cheney had to later back down from his statement when it was discovered that Kerry was actually dead right.

Stop blaming the troops.
Meanwhile, Bush tried a different line of attack. "Senator Kerry this week seemed shocked to learn that Iraq was a dangerous place full of dangerous weapons," said he. "But after all, that's why we're there." (Oh, really? I thought that excuse went out the window last year.) "Iraq was a dangerous place run by a dangerous tyrant who had a lot of weapons ... The senator is denigrating the action of our troops and commanders in the field without knowing the facts. Unfortunately, that's part of the pattern of saying anything to get elected."


It was revealed that the CEO of the famously-conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group once ran a company that specialized in processing 8mm porno movies (warning: link contains mature content).

Did ya hear that? Somehow, by accusing George Bush of failing to come up with an adequate post-war plan, John Kerry is blaming the troops! Interesting non-sequiter.

Incidentally, someone was blaming the troops last week. Rudolph Giuliani appeared on NBC's "Today" show and attempted to cover the president's ass, saying "No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?"

Giuliani magically turned this monstrous gaffe around though, responding to criticism by saying, "We don't need someone who voted against funding our troops during war to take my remarks out of context." He completed the remarkable recovery at a rally soon afterwards, saying, "It's John Kerry who is attacking our troops, not George Bush, not me," adding, "Up is down, white is black, you know the drill."

The explosives were already gone.
After successfully navigating Rudy Giuliani's ridiculous statements, Team Bush came up with a fresh excuse - suggesting the explosives had been looted before the invasion. The Pentagon released a single satellite photo supposedly showing two trucks parked outside a bunker at Al Qaqaa.

This would have been a great excuse, if only GlobalSecurity.org hadn't realized that "a comparison of features in the DoD-released imagery with available commercial satellite imagery, combined with the use of an IAEA map showing the location of bunkers used to store the HMX explosives, reveals that the trucks pictured on the DoD image are not at any of the nine bunkers identified by the IAEA as containing the missing explosive stockpiles."

Moonie Times to the rescue! An exclusive report by Bill Gertz revealed what should have been immediately obvious to everyone from the beginning: "Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation," and, "almost certainly removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility."


Organizers at an Ohio State University campaign rally featuring Barbara and Jenna Bush had to remove several rows of empty seats when the turn-out was lower than expected.

Sure they did.

Unfortunately for the Bush administration, not even the Moonie Times could save the day. Amidst all the talk of trucks and satellite photos and Russian special ops, a video by KSTP reporters who were embedded with the 101st Airborne Division showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the explosives were indeed still at Al Qaqaa on April 18 - a week after the fall of Baghdad. The explosives were identified by IAEA seals which were still attached.

Plus, an NBC correspondent who was also embedded with troops confirmed that Al Qaqaa "was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers head off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around. But as far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away."

Not to mention the report of "A French journalist who visited the Qaqaa munitions depot south of Baghdad in November last year." The journalist "said she witnessed Islamic insurgents looting vast supplies of explosives more than six months after the demise of Saddam Hussein's regime." "I was utterly stupefied to see that a place like that was pretty much unguarded and that insurgents could help themselves for months on end," she said last week.

We also probably shouldn't discount the story of a Pentagon official whose job is to monitor developments in Iraq: "U.S.-led coalition troops had searched Al Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives were intact. Thereafter the site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said."


Just in time for the election, George W. Bush announced that he would be asking for another $70 billion to spend in Iraq, pushing the total spent on wars since he became president to almost a quarter of a trillion dollars.

Oh, and it was also revealed that immediately after the invasion, "United Nations weapons inspectors pressed for permission to return to Iraq to help monitor weapons sites on the heels of the US-led invasion but were denied entry by the US-led coalition, according to a former inspector, UN officials, and a letter from the International Atomic Energy Agency."

In related news, "Six months after the fall of Baghdad, a vast Iraqi weapons depot with tens of thousands of artillery rounds and other explosives" - not Al Qaqaa, another weapons depot called Ukhaider - "remained unguarded, according to two U.S. aid workers who say they reported looting of the site to U.S. Military officials." One of the aid workers said, "We were outraged. There's no question in my mind that the stuff in Ukhaider was used by terrorists."

We'll just make up some shit and try to confuse everyone.
This was not looking good for Bush. Desperate to find somewhere to hide the buck, the Pentagon wheeled out Maj. Austin Pearson, who said his team "removed 250 tons of TNT, plastic explosives, detonation cords, and white phosphorous rounds on April 13, 2003 - 10 days after U.S. Forces first reached the Al Qaqaa site."

Unfortunately "those 250 tons were not located under the seal of the International Atomic Energy Agency - as the missing high-grade explosives had been - and Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita could not definitely say whether they were part of the missing 377 tons."

So that clears the whole thing up.

The Bush administration most certainly did not screw up by allowing weapons depots to be looted, their insistence that the only possible outcome of the invasion would be Iraqis throwing flowers at the feet of our soldiers was not braindead optimism, and George W. Bush's strong steady leadership is definitely making the world safer.


An old video of George W. Bush mysteriously appeared. Here's the leader of the free world:

They'll Say Anything

One of Bush's favorite applause lines on the campaign trail has been this one: "Senator Kerry would say anything to get elected." Considering everything you've read so far, I'd hope you'd agree that Bush's statement is gross hypocrisy.

But just in case, let's take a look at some more examples of George W. Bush and crew saying anything to get elected.

Dick Cheney

Dick is the king of "saying anything." Earlier in the week he told supporters in New Mexico that, "if John Kerry had been in charge, maybe the Soviet Union would still be in business."

Later, in Pennsylvania, he told a crowd of supporters that the wars in "Afghanistan and Iraq will be studied for years for their brilliance." Yes, and that'll probably happen about the same time Carrot Top wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.


An 18-year-old Bush supporter was arrested for threatening to stab his girlfriend after he found out she was voting for Kerry.

This isn't the first time Dick has called the Iraq war a success, of course - although I'm not sure how that squares with the deaths of 100,000 to 200,000 Iraqi civilians, a number estimated last week by the esteemed British medical journal, The Lancet. "The majority of these deaths, which are in addition those normally expected from natural causes, illness and accidents, have been among women and children," said the report, and "The most common cause of death is as a direct result of violence, mostly caused by coalition air strikes."

Rush Limbaugh

Our old friend Rush was on top of his game last week, putting the responsibility for the missing Al Qaqaa explosives squarely at the feet of... John Kerry? "Kerry's UN Screwed Up Al-Qaqaa," read the headline on his website. Rush also managed to throw in this helpful piece of information: "We have basically an endorsement of Senator Kerry from insurgent terrorists in Iraq. I'm not making this up." Sure thing, Rush. Perish the thought that you would make anything up.

Limbaugh, meanwhile, has his own ideas for victory in Iraq. "I'm talking about we are going to have to exercise some very, very brutal, take some very, very brutal military steps," he said. "We're going to have to maybe use more than just conventional weapons on these people. You know, it's like trying to wipe out cockroaches with Raid. That's not strong enough."

Jerry Falwell

After hearing Limbaugh's remarks, the "Reverend" Falwell must have wondered, "What Would Jesus Do?" The conclusion he came to on CNN was that we need to "blow them all away in the name of the Lord."

Team Bush


Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt has gone one step beyond forcing Bush supporters to sign loyalty oaths, encouraging supporters at rallies to recite a pledge of allegiance to George W. Bush.

The pledge reads, "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, reelect George W. Bush as president of the United States."

Team Bush was forced to re-edit a campaign commercial last week when it was revealed that it contained a still photo which had been doctored. An enterprising graphic designer had copied-and-pasted a group of soldiers in a crowd shot to make it look like there were more than there actually were. Mark McKinnon, head of Bush's advertising team, said, "There was no intention on anybody's part to try to represent anything that wasn't true." The ad was amusingly entitled, "Whatever it Takes." Whatever it takes, indeed.

The Florida Leadership Council

The Florida Leadership Council, led by top Florida Republicans, sent campaign fliers to thousands of voters which claimed that the consequences of a John Kerry presidency "are too frightening ... to imagine." According to the Associated Press, the flier "includes a fragment of a fake news story datelined from 'FLORIDA RED ZONE' and dated Aug. 14, 2007. In the story, President Kerry warns parents and children that they'll have to wear radiation and chemical protective gear 'for the foreseeable future' because of a dirty bomb terrorist attack."

Perhaps deciding this wasn't offensive enough, the Florida Leadership Council also sent out fliers featuring photos of Osama Bin Laden, John Kerry, and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Betty Castor, which read, "So who would Bin Laden prefer? Think about it."

Jim Bunning's Stooges

Kentucky State Senate President David Williams and state Sen. Elizabeth Tori implied that Democratic Senate candidate Dan Mongiardo is gay - Williams called him "limp-wristed" and a "switch-hitter." Tori said, she wonders if "the word 'man' applies to him." Mongiardo is running against Sen. Jim Bunning, who has previously accused Mongiardo of looking like one of Saddam Hussein's sons.

Williams insisted that "limp-wristed" is "not a sexual slur," and then tried to use his own homophobia to attack Democrats. "I don't understand the Democrats on this one," he said. "I'm not saying anything about anyone's sexual orientation. But if I were - are they saying that's pejorative, that it's bad to be homosexual? I don't think they would say that, but how can they have it both ways?" What a nutjob.

Tori, for her part, said if people thought she was referring to his sexuality, "so be it."

Block The Vote

Suddenly realizing that this election could be decided by the size of the turnout, Republicans have been doing everything in their power to fulfill their patriotic duty and stop people from voting. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights eventually had to hold a press conference demanding that RNC chairman Ed Gillespie tell his minions to stop trying to suppress the vote in minority communities.

Following is just a sample of GOP dirty tricks reported in the last week.

Florida


The Associated Press reported that, "The FBI has begun investigating whether the Pentagon improperly awarded no-bid contracts to Halliburton Co." Meanwhile, the "US Army Corps of Engineers's top civilian contracting official has accused the corps' leaders of interfering on behalf of Halliburton Co. in awards of billion-dollar no-bid contracts in Iraq and the Balkans."

Look out! Florida's Republican Party is going to use a felon purge list "so flawed that state election officials were forced to scrap it in July." According to the Herald-Tribune, "Party officials revealed Thursday that they may pick up where the state left off, using their power on Election Day to challenge individual voters whose names appear on the list."

Georgia

A rural Georgia county summoned 95 Hispanics - three quarters of the county's Hispanic voters - to court last week to defend their right to vote after a complaint was filed suggesting they may not be eligible. "They asked for all Hispanics," said the county's chief registrar. "They did not say just Hispanics who had registered for the election in July. Some of these people have been registered since 1996."

Nevada

According to the LA Times, "Tyrone Mrasek Sr. took a temporary job late this summer registering voters here [in Las Vegas]. The employer primarily wanted President Bush supporters, but they were not easy to find. So Mrasek handed out cigarettes to drunks and ex-felons at a homeless shelter in exchange for signatures. Later he found a stack of signed registrations for Democratic voters in a trash can outside the company's office."

Florida (again)

58,000 absentee ballots which were supposed to be mailed to voters in Broward County vanished last week. That is all.

Mississippi (yes, Mississippi)

Apparently members of the Mississippi Republican party will be "present at heavily populated African American and Democratic voting precincts to challenge residency, age, and other voting requirements." They must be worried.

Ohio


Huge increases in the cost of oil are obviously working wonders for oil companies, with Exxon-Mobil reporting a third-quater profit of $5.68 billion (that's up 56 percent over their third quarter profit in 2003) and BP reporting a third quarter profit of $3.94 billion. Meanwhile, the average American is still getting shafted at the gas pump.

Four Republicans challenged the registrations of 976 Summit County voters, who then showed up en masse at the Board of Elections. The Board voted unanimously to dismiss all 976 challenges, saying the Republicans had no proof of impropriety. "Why'd you do it? Who the hell are you?" a voter shouted at Howard Calhoun, one of the Republicans who had challenged the registrations. Calhoun, an attorney, replied, "What the hell do you care?"

Florida (yes, again)

Some disturbing emails were discovered last week after a slew of documents intended for the Bush campaign ended up in the hands of parody website GeorgeWBush.org. The BBC reported on one of the emails which contained a "caging list" containing the names and addresses of 1,886 voters in "predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida."

A Republican state campaign spokeswoman said the list was "not put together in order to create a challenge list," but didn't say what it would be used for, nor why it was called a "caging list" in the first place.

West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oregon

Nathan Sproul of Sproul & Associates, the company which is alleged to have torn up Democratic voter registration cards in four states, said last week,"I take great pride in the fact that the Democrats are having hysterical fits about how well we did our job."

And finally...

That's It. That's All There Is. Get Out There And Vote.



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