Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 167)

August 23, 2004
Dirty Work Edition

There are two months to go to the election, George W. Bush's approval rating is slumping, and he has no issues to run on. What's a presidential candidate to do but slime his opponent? Team Bush (1) has launched an all-out offensive against John Kerry in the last couple of weeks while simultaneously pretending that they have nothing to do with it. But Larry Thurlow (2) of the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth" is part of the plan, as is Michelle Malkin (3). Meanwhile, George W. Bush (4) is sitting back and doing nothing while oil prices reach record highs. Elsewhere, Zell Miller (5) is stabbing the Democratic party in the back yet again, Kenneth Cordier isn't the only Bush campaign reject this week - meet Deal Hudson (8), and Alan Keyes (10) continues to provide us all with priceless entertainment. As usual, don't forget the key.

Note: You can now link directly to a Top Ten item by adding "#" plus the number of the item to the URL. So if you wish to point someone directly to, for example, number 6 on this week's list, add "#6" to the end of the URL so it looks like this:

1Team Bush lying lying lying lying lying just plain evil
The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smear campaign reached a head last week when John Kerry accused them of doing George W. Bush's "dirty work." Kerry went on to denounce an ad by independent group MoveOn PAC which charged that Bush went AWOL during his time in the Texas Air National Guard, and then released his own ad demanding Bush similarly condemn the Swift Boat Veterans' behavior. Finally, late last week the Kerry campaign filed a complaint with the FEC accusing Bush of illegally coordinating with the Swift Boat Veterans and then released a Florida Republican Party flyer which clearly shows collusion between the two groups:

Shortly afterwards one of our very own DUers took it upon themselves to go down to the Florida Republican Party (and Bush Campaign) headquarters in Gainesville and snap some pics showing the flyer pinned to their bulletin board:

While all this was going on, Vietnam veterans were leaping to Kerry's defense. William Rood - a Chicago Tribune editor and political independent who just happened to be commanding one of the Swift Boats which took part in the action when Kerry won his Silver Star - broke a 35-year silence to defend Kerry against the Swift Boat Veterans' lies. "The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did," he wrote, "but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us. It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there." Ouch.

But that was by no means the end of the story. The New York Times finally pulled its head out of its journalistic ass and did some actual reporting last week, publishing a long investigation into the Swift Boat Veterans' Republican ties (not that this was anything that people who get their news from the web didn't know already) and also came up with a nice graphic displaying the "connections and contradictions" of the group, exposing the blatant inconsistencies in the Swift Boat Vets' statements. (Print it out and share it with everyone you know.)

For example, in the now-infamous ad George Elliott says, "John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam." But in 1996 Elliott said, "The fact that he chased an armed enemy down is not something to be looked down upon, but it was an act of courage. And the whole outfit served with honor." Also in the ad, Roy F. Hoffman said, "John Kerry has not been honest." But in 2003 Hoffman said of Kerry's Silver Star-winning action, "It took guts, and I admire that." And Adrian L. Lonsdale says in the ad, "He lacks the capacity to lead." But in 1996 he spoke of the "bravado and courage of the young officers that ran the Swift Boats" and said, "Senator Kerry was no exception. He was among the finest of those Swift Boat drivers."

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Sounds more like Republican-backed Swift Boat Flip-Floppers for Rove.

Indeed, the Times also documented the connections between Karl Rove and the Republican backers of the Swift Boat group - but that certainly wasn't going to stop them. The Swift Boat Veterans released a new ad last week criticizing John Kerry's 1971 Congressional testimony - and here's where things get really interesting.

Late last week, blogger Digby discovered that Kenneth Cordier, one of the Swift Boat Veterans appearing in the new ad, was not only not a Swift Boat Veteran, but a former vice-chair of Veterans for Bush/Cheney - and a current advisor to Veterans for Bush/Cheney '04.

Don't look too hard for Cordier's name at that link though. It seems that sometime between August 2 and August 19 - when Digby discovered Cordier's link to Bush in Google's cache - the Bush campaign scrubbed his name from their official website.

The Google cache of the Bush campaign website clearly showed Cordier's name listed on the page - at least it did until Saturday evening at 5:19 PM when the cache was mysteriously updated. I say mysteriously because this screenshot, taken just two hours earlier, clearly shows that the cache hadn't been updated since August 2 - and Cordier's name is sitting right there.

Then, late on Saturday evening, Cordier quit the Bush campaign.

"A volunteer adviser has quit President Bush's re-election campaign after appearing in a veterans group's television commercial blasting Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's involvement in the Vietnam-era antiwar movement. A Bush campaign statement said it did not know that retired Air Force Col. Ken Cordier had appeared in an ad by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," CNN reported. Oh really? Then I wonder why they felt the need to remove his name from their website sometime earlier in the month?

If anyone truly believes that the Bush campaign was not coordinating with the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth," they must need their heads examined. The Kerry campaign released an Internet ad called "Old Tricks" last week which simply featured a clip from a 2000 Republican primary debate between John McCain and George W. Bush where - coincidence of coincidences - Bush refused to denounce a "fringe" veterans group that was attacking McCain's service in Vietnam. Sound familiar?

The simple fact is that George W. Bush - who avoided service in Vietnam - has made a habit of using so-called "independent" groups to besmirch the records of real war heroes. CBS reported in May that the "The [May 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth] press conference was set up by the same people who tried to discredit John McCain when McCain faced George W. Bush for the Republican nomination in 2000." And in 2002, war hero and triple amputee Max Cleland was compared to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein by another "independent" group, without a word of complaint from his Republican opponent. (Ann Coulter continued to smear Cleland for the GOP through 2004.)

On Saturday, John Edwards challenged the Bush campaign - again - to denounce the ad. "This is a moment of truth for George W. Bush," he said. "We're going to see what kind of man he is."

Let's face it - those of us who have been closely following Bush's actions for the last three and a half years have known for some time what kind of man he is. Perhaps Team Bush's current sewer-level campaign will finally let the rest of the country know what "honor and integrity" means to Our Great Leader.

2Larry Thurlow lying lying lying
Okay, since Democrats actually care about not impugning the wartime actions of decorated veterans, let me just make it clear that I'm not going to criticize Larry Thurlow - one of the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth" - for his service in Vietnam. However, I am going to criticize him for being a liar, a charlatan, a Bush stooge, and a contemptible human being. Thurlow appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews last week and laid some devastating charges against John Kerry, the most ridiculous of which being that Kerry had a "master plan" during Vietnam. A plan to do what? According to Thurlow, Kerry "engineered three Purple Heart incidences" because "he had a plan that included not only being a war hero but getting an early out." But when Matthews asked if Thurlow could prove that Kerry had a plan to, uh, injure himself, he responded, "Of course, I couldn't." In other words, Kerry's "master plan" is nothing but Thurlow's opinion. And here's the funny thing about Thurlow's opinion - it frequently seems to have a problem tying in with the facts. He has consistently and strongly accused Kerry of falsely earning the Bronze Star, claiming that Kerry was not under fire when he rescued Jim Rassmann. How does Thurlow know this? Because he was skippering a boat alongside Kerry as part of a five-boat flotilla when the incident occurred. But Thurlow's own military records, obtained last week by the Washington Post, show that Thurlow won his own Bronze Star during that very same firefight, and the citation says that "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" were directed at "all units" of the flotilla. Yes, Larry Thurlow won the Bronze Star - which makes him a bona fide war hero, and we can all respect that. It's a shame he's also a despicable, fraudulent asshole.

3Michelle Malkin lying lying lying
Michelle Malkin, "journalist" and author of In Defense of Internment: The Case for "Racial Profiling" in World War II and the War on Terror (believe it or not), also appeared on Hardball last week to prop up Thurlow's claims - and made herself look like a total buffoon. Malkin tried to float Thurlow's "master plan" theory into the mainstream by suggesting that "some people" are saying John Kerry shot himself in order to get a Purple Heart. Okay, let's backtrack for a moment shall we? A man volunteers for extremely dangerous Swift Boat duty, estimated to have a 75% casualty rate. While performing this duty, he wins the Bronze Star and the Silver Star for bravery in combat. He is widely reported to have been a relentless and courageous captain. Oh, and he decided to shoot himself in the middle of a firefight because he figured it would look good if he ever decided to run for president 35 years later. Give me a break! Fortunately Matthews decided that he wasn't going to let Malkin get away with her "some people" chicanery and asked her point blank whether she believed Kerry shot himself. Guess what? She wouldn't give him a straight answer. And that's how they do it, folks. Get "some people" to make wild, outrageous and false claims about John Kerry, and then get a more legitimate, media-friendly "journalist" to report what "some people" are saying. Kudos to Chris Matthews for not letting Malkin get away with it this time. (Video here or here.)

4George W. Bush hypocrisy fiscal irresponsibility
So, while he's not clandestinely backing shadowy smear groups, how is Our Great Leader doing running the country? If the recent meteoric rises in oil prices are anything to go by, not very well. According to the AFP, "World oil prices could sally past 50 dollars a barrel and hold at high levels for the foreseeable future on a combination of tight, unstable supplies and rising demand, notably from Asia." Hmm... unstable supplies. I wonder why that could be? Of course, George doesn't seem too concerned about the price of oil right now since he's kinda busy slandering John Kerry. But it might be worth taking a look at what Bush said back in 2000 when he criticized Bill Clinton for not being tough enough on oil producers. "I think the President ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say: 'We expect you to open your spigots.' The President of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price," said candidate Bush. It's probably worth pointing out that while Dubya was talking tough about OPEC and bashing Clinton for high gas prices, oil prices were $28 a barrel. Four years of Bush, and oil is now almost $50 a barrel. Now that's the kind of leadership that surely deserves reelection!

5Zell Miller partisanship partisanship partisanship partisanship partisanship
Here's another clue that the Republicans are getting increasingly desperate as election time draws near - they've asked DINO senator Zell Miller to give the keynote address at their Convention next week. Let's just get this straight: the Democratic keynote address showcased Barack Obama, a rising young star of the party and a beacon of hope for the future. Meanwhile the Republican keynote address is going to showcase a crusty old Democratic party reject who's on the brink of retirement and is simply going to use the opportunity to bitch and moan about how he's the only real Democrat and it's everyone else who's a traitor (which, let's face it, is pretty all he ever does these days). Wow, the GOP sure is the party of optimism! But let's not knock poor old Zell too much. Instead, let's enjoy the fact that the man giving the keynote address at the Republican National Convention is a man who has previously lauded John Kerry as, "one of the nation's authentic heroes" who has worked to "strengthen our military." Can't argue with that.

6Team Bush excessive spin excessive spin
Last week we did a little report on one of the recent Team Bush campaign ads - so what the heck, here's another one. On Friday August 13, the Bush campaign made a lame attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Olympics by releasing an ad called "Victory," which showcased the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq are currently competing in Greece. But not so fast, Team Bush. It turns out that Iraq's Olympic soccer team isn't too happy about being the star of George W. Bush's propaganda machine. Sports Illustrated reported last week that, "To a man, members of the Iraqi Olympic delegation say they are glad that former Olympic committee head Uday Hussein, who was responsible for the serial torture of Iraqi athletes and was killed four months after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003, is no longer in power." However... midfielder Salih Sadir then said, "Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign. He can find another way to advertise himself." Another midfielder, Ahmed Manajid, said, "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes." (As it happens, American troops killed Manajid's cousin recently.) He continued, "If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists? Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq." Meanwhile Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad said, "My problems are not with the American people. They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?" You know, I have a sneaking feeling that we won't be seeing these quotes showing up in Bush campaign ads anytime soon. If that's not enough, according to the New York Times, "The United States Olympic Committee has asked the Bush campaign to stop using the Olympic name in commercials," because, "federal law grants the U.S.O.C. exclusive rights to the name." Team Bush's response? "Go Cheney yourself."

7George W. Bush cowardice
Is that the sound of clucking I hear? There's a marked difference in the campaign styles of George W. Bush and John Kerry, and it's a difference that makes Our Great Leader out to be, well, a bit of a chickenshit. It seems that while John Kerry is out and about holding public rallies in front of thousands of people, George W. Bush is hiding himself away in smaller venues, ensuring that not only will he be able to avoid protesters (see Idiots 165), but he won't even have to face questions from people who are genuinely curious about what what he might do for them during the next four years. For example, these are the kind of "questions" that Bush faced recently at one of his butt-kissing sessions: "Mr. President, I just want to say I'm praying for you and God bless you." Follow up question... "I would just like to say that I agree with this gentleman, that we should all pray for you." Pretty incisive, huh? Or take this exchange... QUESTION: "Mr. President, you were a fighter pilot and you were with the 147th Fighter Wing?" ANSWER: "Yes." QUESTION: "And flew a very dangerous aircraft, the Delta F102?" ANSWER: "Right, and I'm still standing." QUESTION: "I want to thank you for serving our country." Brilliant! Let's do a quick recap...

Bush campaigning in Oregon:

(Photos: Reuters)

Kerry campaigning in Oregon:

(Photos: Reuters)

8Deal Hudson just plain evil
Some say that the Top Ten is not the Top Ten without a prominent member of the GOP getting into trouble for sexual harassment. So here it is: a prominent member of the GOP getting into trouble for sexual harassment! Deal Hudson, an adviser to Team Bush and "leader of GOP efforts to reach out to Catholics" resigned last week after it was revealed that he settled an harassment case for $30,000 in 1996. Apparently Hudson developed a relationship in 1994 with an 18-year-old student (who had been in and out of foster care since the age of seven), took her under his wing ("He was extremely attentive and genuinely concerned," she said), got her drunk, and then, uh, boinked her in his car. It seems that Hudson then begged her to keep her mouth shut before creating an "'extraordinarily hostile' classroom environment that 'emotionally devastated' her," according to the Boston Globe. To be honest though, I really don't know why Team Bush are letting this guy go - he sounds like he would be an excellent addition to an administration which bases most of its policies on fucking the vulnerable.

9 Colette Rosati homophobia
This item demonstrates that the Republicans aren't just keen to use despicable campaign tactics against Democrats - they'll happily use them against one another if the need arises. It was revealed last week that Colette Rosati, who is running for reelection to the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 8, sent a rather dubious email to rally her campaign volunteers. Rosati is in a three-way race for the seat with Michele Reagan and Royce Flora. In the email she said that Reagan "is not married and the other [Flora] is but has no children. Hmm..." Unfortunately for Rosati, these allusions to homosexuality appear to have backfired. "Is she trying to refer that Iím a lesbian?" Reagan asked. "My boyfriend got a kick out of that." Meanwhile, it turns out that Royce and Ann Flora don't have any children because Ann has had three miscarriages, cancer and a hysterectomy. "It hits women hard, saying things like you canít have children," Ann Flora said. "(Rosati) claims to be a good Christian, yet these are the tactics she stoops to?" Whoops...

10Alan Keyes religious nut misogyny anti-choice screwing the poor hypocrisy
And finally, the hilarious political joke known as Alan Keyes continued to bear bounteous fruit for pundits and commentators last week. After previously proving himself to be a first-class hypocrite by denouncing carpetbagging and then, um, carpetbagging (see Idiots 166) Keyes' latest ploy appears to be to alienate as many voters as he possibly can. Last week it was the turn of female voters, who got the Keyes treatment when he compared women who have had abortions to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. Keyes invoked September 11th as part of his anti-abortion comments at a May 7 speech in Utah, although the comments were only publicized recently. Also last week, Keyes said he supported reparations which would be paid by abolishing African-Americans' income tax. But not payroll taxes, of course - which means that African-Americans who live in poverty and don't pay income taxes would receive precisely dick. Funnily enough, the better off you are, the more of a benefit you would receive from the Great Alan Keyes Reparations Plan. In fact, the few people who would really benefit from it are rich African-Americans like, say, Alan Keyes. Hmmm. Oddly enough, on his TV show in 2002, Keyes suggested that reparations are an insult, saying "You want to tell me that what they suffered can actually be repaired with money? You're going to do the same thing those slaveholders did, put a money price on something that can't possibly be quantified in that way." So maybe he hasn't made up his mind yet on this issue. Either that or he just likes looking like an idiot. See you next week!

The Top Ten Conservative Idiots list is back on the radio! The Air America Radio Network's Ring of Fire show is currently broadcasting "Cuckoo Conservatives" - excerpts from the Top Ten read by 30+ year radio veteran Dean Randall. Dean has worked in broadcast markets from the Midwest to the west coast including an overseas hitch in Wellington, New Zealand, and most of his radio experience was spent as a morning show personality. He is currently employed by a local ABC TV affiliate and is active in politics on a local, state and national basis. Dean says, "My liberal roots went down and deep early when my father hosted a Minnesota state DFL rally in 1961. Ever since I have had a keen interest in politics and the Democratic philosophy and history." You can drop him a line at

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