Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 190)

March 21, 2005
Madness in Congress Edition

It's been a particularly bizarre week on Capitol Hill. Congressional Republicans (1,8) first prevented Democrats from saving ANWR, and then attempted to turn poor Terri Schiavo into their political plaything. Congress also approved another $80+ billion dollars for Iraq despite recent revelations that War Profiteers (6) like Halliburton are consistently over-billing the Pentagon. Fortunately this isn't getting in the way of George W. Bush (2,3,4) who's currently fighting a losing battle on Social Security as well as telling fibs about government propaganda. Elsewhere, David Horowitz (5), Tom DeLay (7), and John Rowland (9) give us all a good lesson on Republican morals and values. Don't forget the key...

1Congressional Republicans pandering pandering pandering pandering excessive spin
The story of Terri Schiavo is a sad one. She exists in a vegetative state and is kept alive by a feeding tube. Her parents want her to remain that way, her husband of twenty-one years wants to remove the feeding tube, and the courts have become involved. But last week Republicans on Capitol Hill lost their minds and decided to make a political issue out of Schiavo's case.

First they issued a subpoena which in theory prevented the courts from taking further action in the case, but also raised the possibility of Schiavo being wheeled in front of a committee so that Republicans could use her as a political prop. Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill "HIV Can Be Transmitted Via Sweat" Frist took to the Senate floor to dispute the diagnosis that Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state - based on a video that he had spent "an hour or so looking at" - which caused raised eyebrows among medical experts and ethicists. Tom Delay called the case "an act of medical terrorism," demonstrating once again that Republicans will play the terrorism card on just about any issue. John McCain suggested that Terri Schiavo should divorce her husband, despite the fact that Republicans are constantly harping on about the sacred bond of marriage between a man and a woman.

But all this rhetoric is put neatly into perspective by the revelation that Senate Republicans circulated a talking points memo last week explaining why they should try to make political hay out of Terri Schiavo. The memo stated that the "pro-life base will be excited" and that it is a "great political issue - this is a tough issue for Democrats." Excited? Great? Do these ghouls have no shame whatsoever?

2George W. Bush photo-opping dumb
Over the past couple of weeks Our Great Leader has been pottering around the country on his "Abandoning Social Security Helps America" Tour (ASSHAT), and unfortunately his little jaunt is already suffering from poor attendance and cancellations. The majority of Republicans in Alabama's congressional delegation said "thanks but no thanks" to an invitation to join the president during his stop in Montgomery, and Bush was forced to cancel his trip to Sarasota after even Rep. Katherine Harris - she of the perpetual Bush brown nose - decided that having the Chimp stop by would be more trouble than it was worth. (Harris then pretended that she had nothing to do with the cancellation.)

Meanwhile Republicans were busy making excuses for Bush, saying that he'd received "bad advice" on the Social Security issue, therefore putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of, um, someone else, I guess. Quote of the week came from an unnamed Republican senator in the Washington Times, who said, "The message coming out of the White House is that we'll fix Social Security by raising your taxes and cutting your retirement benefits and, to get something passed, we'll forget about the personal retirement accounts we promised." He then said that's like telling voters, "Never vote for Republicans again - we lie." Sounds about right.

3George W. Bush And Friends excessive spin cowardice
Of course, one of the problems Bush is having with his plan for Social Security is that he doesn't have a plan. Yes, Dubya's tour is just a big waste of everybody's time. "I have not laid out a plan yet," said he last week, adding, "...intentionally." Aha! I get it. It's all a cunning plan to confuse everybody - and the plan seems to be working perfectly. "I'm interested in coming up with a permanent solution," Bush said. "I'm not interested in playing political games."

Oh really? Tell that to Congressional Republicans who, according to USA Today, will be "chucking the open town-hall format" when they try to sell Bush's plan - or lack of a plan, rather - to pissed-off constituents over the coming weeks. It seems that Republicans were so taken aback by loud protests at recent town hall meetings that they have decided to take a leaf out of the Bush playbook and bypass most of the public entirely, instead focusing on "newspaper editorial boards ... Rotary Club lunches, senior citizen centers, chambers of commerce meetings and local businesses," where they will parade "panels of experts from the Social Security Administration, conservative think tanks, local colleges and like-minded interest groups to answer questions about the federal retirement program."

Not that Bush and his radical conservative friends are "interested in playing political games," you understand.

4George W. Bush flip-flopping hypocrisy
Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett told Tim Russert on Meet the Press back in January that "President Bush has ... made it clear that he believes there ought to be a bright line between those who are journalists and those who are advocates for particular issues." He was referring of course to revelations that journalists are secretly being paid fat cash - taxpayer cash - to promote Bush administration policies, and that the Bush administration has been producing videos - propaganda pieces featuring fake reporters - which are distributed to news organizations who broadcast them as if they're real. So where does Our Great Leader really stand on the "bright line?" Let's find out! Here's part of the transcript from last week's presidential press conference. Some of the names have been changed.

Q: Mr. President, earlier this year, you told us you wanted your administration to cease and desist on payments to journalists to promote your agenda. You cited the need for ethical concerns and the need for bright line between the press and the government. Your administration continue to make the use of video news releases, which is prepackaged news stories sent to television stations, fully aware that some - or many of these stations will air them without any disclaimer that they are produced by the government. The Comptroller General of the United States, this week, said that raises ethical questions. Does it raise ethical questions about the use of government money to produce stories about the government that wind up being aired with no disclosure that they were produced by the government?

CHIMPY McCOKESPOON: There is a Justice Department opinion that says these - these pieces are within the law, so long as they're based upon facts, not advocacy. And I expect our agencies to adhere to that ruling, to that Justice Department opinion. This has been a longstanding practice of the federal government to use these types of videos. The Agricultural Department, as I understand it, has been using these videos for a long period of time. The Defense Department, other departments have been doing so. It's important that they be based on the guidelines set out by the Justice Department. Now, I also - I think it would be helpful if local stations then disclosed to their viewers that that's - that this was based upon a factual report, and they chose to use it. But evidently, in some cases, that's not the case. So, anyway.

Uh, so as long as the Justice Department - that's Bush's Justice Department - says that it's okay for the administration to create these pieces, then they're going to keep creating them? What about lazy news stations who don't tell their viewers that they're watching propaganda? What about the bright line? Let's continue...

Q: The administration could guarantee that's happening by including that language in the pre-packaged report.

CHIMPY McCOKESPOON: Yes, I don't - oh, you mean a disclosure, "I'm George W. Bush, and I" -

Q: Well, some way to make sure it couldn't air without the disclosure that you believe is so vital.

CHIMPY McCOKESPOON: You know, Ken, there's a procedure that we're going to follow, and the local stations ought to - if there's a deep concern about that, ought to tell their viewers what they're watching.

Okay - I get it. When Bush says he "believes there ought to be a bright line between those who are journalists and those who are advocates for particular issues," he's talking out of his lying ass.

5 David Horowitz hypocrisy lying
David Horowitz made a first-class monkey of himself last week when it was revealed that a story he'd been touting to "prove" liberal bias on college campuses turned out to be a load of old rubbish. In a nutshell, Horowitz claimed that a University of Northern Colorado student was asked to write an essay on "why President Bush was a war criminal" and received a failing grade when she instead wrote an essay on why Saddam Hussein was a war criminal. Liberal bias! Liberal bias! At least, it would be if the story wasn't complete bullcrap.

A spokesperson for the university said, "the test question was not the one described by Horowitz, the grade was not an F, and there were clearly non-political reasons for whatever grade was given." After a lot of bluster, Horowitz admitted that "Some of our facts were wrong," but - you'll like this - "We were right." So let me get this straight - he tries to make a point about rotten liberals on campus, uses a story which is apparently completely false, and then shrugs and says well I'm right anyway and the facts are irrelevant? How utterly fascinating.

Funnily enough, Horowitz is now accusing Media Matters, the University of Northern Colorado, the Associated Press, and the student involved, of such things as lying, slander, misrepresenting the facts, dishonesty, and tampering. Hmmm... blaming other people for exactly the things you've been doing... Is that one of these new-fangled conservative values?

6War Profiteers greed greed greed
Last week the House of Representatives approved yet another $80+ billion request by Our Great Leader to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's about $300 billion or so we've spent on these wars since Bush came to power. Impressive. Of course, all the money is going to a good cause, right? I mean, surely its worth cutting child services, education, and health care in this country so that the Iraqi people can elect an Islamic theocracy, thus severely punishing the people who attacked us on 9/11... wait a second, that doesn't sound right.

Anyway, there's no need to worry at all about where this money might be going because helpful corporations such as Halliburton will be taking care of it. Why, just last week it was revealed that Halliburton had bought liquefied petroleum gas from Kuwait for $82,000 and then charged the Pentagon $27 million to transport it into Iraq. In fact, Pentagon auditors reckon the amount of overbilling by Halliburton on fuel imports alone adds up to $108 million dollars.

So as you can see, destroying Iraq was the smart thing to do. Not only do companies with extremely close ties to the Bush administration now get to make vast profits off the backs of the American taxpayer, we also get to cut programs at home for those who need them the most! It's a win-win situation!

7Tom Delay
The noose appears to be tightening around House Majority Leader Tom Delay and while he may not be sweating just yet, he's certainly starting to glow. According to, "Three of his closest aides in Texas are standing trial for criminal campaign-finance violations," and when it started to look like he might have to stand trial himself, Delay tried to change a House rule (which was originally created by the Republicans) so that he wouldn't have to step down from his leadership position. Now it's starting to look like Delay may be involved in all kinds of freebies-for-favors activities. Tsk tsk.

Fortunately, he's got a good excuse - it's not his fault, it's those rotten partisan Democrats out to get him. Never mind the ethics violations, the rule-changing, the abuses of power. Never mind that Delay is in control of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. "Waaah! Those mean Democrats are picking on me!" Well I've got four words for Tom Delay: suck it up, asshole.

8Congressional Republicans anti-environment anti-environment anti-environment
Last week, after a long battle, the Senate voted to allow oil companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The final vote tally was 51-49, with Democrats more united than Republicans on the issue. Of course, the Republicans would never have passed this if they hadn't performed an end-run and slipped the provision into the budget resolution, thus preventing the Democrats from filibustering. The Republicans argue that opening ANWR to drilling will reduce our reliance on foreign oil, despite consistently voting against alternative energy plans which would do the same thing without digging up large chunks of environmentally-sensitive protected wilderness.

So here's the plan: Republicans should be forced to pledge that from now on, every single drop of oil obtained from American land goes directly into the American marketplace. Because if we're ruining ANWR in order to export this oil, why, surely that would be downright unpatriotic. Meanwhile, there's still plenty that can be done to stop the Republicans from ruining the environment for profit. Head over to Barbara Boxer's website to continue the fight.

9John Rowland prison hypocrisy
More from the Morals and Values file: last week federal prosecutors urged a judge to double the former Connecticut governor's prison sentence, "saying he has misled his probation officers as part of a yearslong pattern of deceiving state officials and the public," according to the UK Guardian. The prosecutors say that John Rowland (R-Naturally) tried to hide a retirement account worth more than $400,000 from the judge. Rowland resigned last year and was charged with trading political access for favors (see Idiots 161 and 139) - he now faces up to three years in prison.

Funnily enough, the prosecution's recommendation for a longer sentence includes a quote from a 2000 speech in which Rowland himself said, "When that trust is violated, the damage becomes in some ways permanent because it is immediately part of our popular culture and part of the public's perception. The public needs to know that offenders are punished under our system of government." But like all good Republicans caught with their pants down, Rowland knew exactly what to do - last week he blamed a "former top adviser." Couldn't see that coming, could ya?

10 Charles and Patrick Linton dumb
And finally, 15-year-old Patrick Linton recently walked out of school - with the full support of his father, Charles - after his school read the Pledge of Allegiance in a foreign language. "This is America, and we got soldiers at war," said Patrick. "When you're saying the Pledge in a different language which nobody understands, that's not OK." Charles Linton backed him up with some marvelous hyperbole, saying, "It's like wearing a cross upside down in a church." Never mind the fact that the Pledge was read in a different language each day - Spanish, French, Russian, German, and Latin - as part of Foreign Language Week.

"I looked around, and I was like, 'What's going on?'" Patrick said. "We're at war right now, and our schools are supposed to be patriotic." Actually, dumbass, schools are supposed to be teaching you stuff. Like how there are - believe it or not - other countries in the world, and - gasp - some of them don't speak English. So take that, Spain, France, Russia, Germany, and, um, Latinland. How dare you not support the troops and have stupid languages that Patrick Linton can't understand?

There is at least one small flicker of amusement in this tale of utter ignorance, though - the fact that Patrick's father has to suffer the name "C. Linton." See you next week!

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