Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 195)

April 25, 2005
Morally Bankrupt Edition

After a few weeks of languishing in the middle of the pack, George W. Bush (1) is back at the top of our list once again, after signing the bankruptcy bill for his fat-cat buddies in the credit card industry. Frank Luntz (2) makes an ass of himself on the Daily Show. Tom DeLay (3,5) continues his impressive run on the list, taking no fewer than two spots, while Fox News's Brian Wilson (4) carries his water. The Nuge (6) displays some hypocrisy for the NRA. And Rush Limbaugh makes some kooky comments about oral sex. Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

1George W. Bush screwing the poor screwing the poor fiscal irresponsibility greed hypocrisy
It's been a quiet few weeks for Our Great Leader but he's back with a bang this week, signing the Credit Card Company Reacharound Bill into law. Sorry, did I say credit card company reacharound? I'm talking, of course, about the Bankruptcy Bill. During the signing, Bush made this comment: "Our bankruptcy laws are an important part of the safety net of America. They give those who cannot pay their debts a fresh start [Editor's note: at least, they did until Bush signed this bill into law]. Yet bankruptcy should always be a last resort in our legal system. If someone does not pay his or her debts, the rest of society ends up paying them."

Now, This statement doesn't just raise eyebrows - it blows the top off the hypocrisy meter. First of all we're talking about a president who has done more to sink this country into debt than any president in living memory. But it's not just his policies that are painful - Bush's entire life has been built on skipping out on debts. Let's take a look at what the Center for Public Integrity has to say:

... Before going into business, however, Bush took a quick detour into politics. In 1978, he ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Bush lost the election, but he won the confidence of relatives and family friends who agreed to support Arbusto, his oil-exploration firm. From 1979 to 1983, dozens of investors poured millions into the company and its successor, Bush Exploration. Unfortunately for the investors Arbusto, however, turned out to be a financial failure. By April 1984, the company was $3.1 million in debt.

In 1984, Bush sold his business to another Texas oil and gas exploration firm, Spectrum 7. As part of the deal, Bush became Spectrum 7's chief executive officer. But once again, business success eluded Bush and those around him. Two years after the merger, in 1986, world oil prices, whose decline had hurt many Texas oil producers, plunged even further. Spectrum 7, deeply in debt, was in need of a bailout. Bush found one.

In 1986 Harken Oil & Gas, an oil exploration company based in Irving, Texas, bought Spectrum 7. For his part Bush earned $600,000 from the initial sale. He also became a director and was paid as much as $120,000 in annual consulting fees and received stock warrants worth $131,250 even though he spent much of 1987 and 1988 working on his father's presidential campaign. ...

... Harken ran into financial problems while Bush served on the company's board. In August 1990, Harken posted a quarterly $23 million loss from its consolidated operations, sending its stock price on a downward spiral. Bush had unloaded two-thirds of his holdings on June 22, 1990, for $848,560. He used the money from the sale to pay for his share of the Texas Rangers. ...

In Bush's case, the phrase "If someone does not pay his or her debts, the rest of society ends up paying them" is staggeringly true. He didn't pay his debts, and now we're all paying.

2Frank Luntz excessive spin excessive spin
It's a mystery to me why the presumably-savvy media spinmeister Frank Luntz would ever agree to be interviewed by The Daily Show - but it happened last week. Luntz was caught with his pants down by TDS's Samantha Bee, who enlisted his help setting up a fake town hall meeting. At one point in the interview Bee provided Luntz with several words and phrases and asked him to put his own brand of spin on them. So "drilling for oil" became "responsible exploration for energy," "logging" became "healthy forests," and "manipulation" became "explanation and education." That's right - he actually said that. (Luntz was apparently stumped by Bee's next word, "Orwellian.") So there you have it folks - the next time you hear George W. Bush attempt to "explain" Social Security reform, or "educate" you on the reasons for eliminating the estate tax, you'll know exactly what he's talking about.

3Tom DeLay quid pro quo
For the last several weeks Tom DeLay has been loudly proclaiming his innocence while simultaneously obfuscating the real facts of the case behind a smokescreen of partisan buffoonery. The way Tom tells it, he's completely innocent of all the charges against him and the only reason he's in trouble is because of the evil liberals plotting against him. Well, the evil liberals over at the Washington Post turned up some interesting information last week that makes the hole Tom has been digging look just a little bit deeper and darker. According to the Post, when DeLay took a trip to England and Scotland in 2000, he "said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper." I should think so - because "House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists."

Unfortunately for Tom, the Post turned up documents last week which showed that the airfare for the trip was charged to a credit card issued to one Jack Abramoff - a lobbyist, and one of DeLay's best buddies, who also happens to be right in the middle of a federal criminal and tax investigation as we speak. And in case Tommy Boy wants to play the "I didn't know" game, the Post also notes that, "The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis. Multiple sources, including DeLay's then-chief of staff Susan Hirschmann, have confirmed that DeLay's congressional office was in direct contact with Preston Gates about the trip itinerary before DeLay's departure, to work out details of his travel. These contacts raise questions about DeLay's statement that he had no way of knowing about the financial and logistical support provided by Abramoff and his firm." Oops.

4Brian Wilson partisanship
We noted last week that Tom DeLay is facing increasing criticism from members of his own party, such as Newt Gingrich and Rep. Christopher Shays. DeLay has also been criticized by Bill O'Reilly, the Wall Street Journal, and several other newspapers who endorsed George W. Bush in 2004. Not that you would know any of this if you happened to catch Brian Wilson on Fox News last week, of course. Wilson said that DeLay has never been found guilty of violating any law and that Democratic front groups are targeting him, using this helpful graphic to bolster his points:

Wilson also aired clips of DeLay claiming he was being targeted by a "left-wing syndicate" and that he was a victim of "journalistic activism," and reported that he was "not getting an even break from the media."

So where did Brian Wilson get this information from? Simple - he copied it from an email that Tom DeLay sent to his supporters last week, in which DeLay whined about his problems being nothing more than a plot by the vast left-wing conspiracy. Of course, Wilson helpfully declined to delve into the truth of the matter - he just allowed DeLay's comments to stand without rebuttal. Looks like he's has been taking "journalism" tips from our old pal Jeff Gannon.

5Tom DeLay hypocrisy hypocrisy hypocrisy
One more quick aside this week to keep Tom DeLay simmering on the front burner - this comes courtesy of David Sirota's blog. Sirota noted that back in 1995, not long after Republicans had retaken Congress based on a promise to clean up Washington, Tom DeLay said this: "The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know... I say the best disinfectant is full disclosure, not isolation." So I guess that wasn't you at the Three Tenors concert then, Tom?

6 Ted Nugent hypocrisy gun nut sex
It's been a while since The Nuge showed up on the list, but last week's annual NRA convention gave him the perfect opportunity for some first-class idiocy. At a special session on "God, Guns & Rock 'N' Roll," Ted informed attendees that, "To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot 'em." Wait a second... child molesters? Funny that, since it's well known that during his rock 'n' roll days, The Nuge had a bit of a thing for jailbait. Back in 2000 he made number 63 on Spin's list of the "The 100 Sleaziest Moments in Rock" for "putting a new twist on a rock 'n' roll standard, dating teen-age girls," according to the Detroit News. He even had himself appointed the legal guardian for a 17-year-old, "to keep the hassle factor low." Indeed.

7Pope Benedict XVI homophobia homophobia homophobia
Last week the artist formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, laid out his plans for the future of the Catholic church. Benedict spoke of reunifying, reaching out, called for "an open and sincere dialogue" with other religions, and said he would "do everything in his power to improve the ecumenical cause," according to the Associated Press. And of course there was no better way to get this ball rolling than to kick the easiest target he could find - homosexuals. As his first order of business, Benedict condemned a gay marriage bill recently passed by the Spanish government, calling it "iniquitous." A quick glance in my thesaurus reveals that iniquitous is a synonym for "base, corrupt, criminal, delinquent, evil, mean, reprobate, sinful, vicious, vile, villainous, wicked, wrong" - and if that's not explicit enough for you, Benedict has also described homosexuality as an "intrinsic moral evil." Way to reach out, Pope dude. According to the BBC, Benedict insisted that "just because something was made law it did not make it right" and said that "every profession linked with implementing homosexual marriages should oppose it, even if it meant losing their jobs." So, will every Catholic who works in a profession that is linked to something official church doctrine disapproves of have to quit their job? Or are we just talking about the gays here?

8Tom Davis partisanship
It's not a secret that the Washington DC metro area has some of the worst commuter problems in the country. One of the proposed solutions is to encourage "smart growth" - that is, rather than allow housing developers to disperse suburban sprawl willy-nilly across the counties outside of DC, get them to build new developments close to Metro rail stations, which will encourage commuters to use public transport instead of putting even more cars on the already crowded roads. Unfortunately, Rep. Tom Davis (R) of Fairfax, VA, is not happy with this plan. Last week he announced that he intended to use the full weight of Congress to a oppose a new condo and townhouse development next to the Vienna Metro station. Why? According to Tom, it would not just cause added congestion to the road and rail system, but "Culturally, the people who would move into this project in Vienna are urban kind of people. A lot of them are single, and they would be happy living closer in." And that's the crux of the matter. See, what Tom really means is that a lot of those "culturally urban" people who would be "happy living closer in" are Democrats. And he certainly doesn't want those kind of people living in his district. That's right - Tom Davis has apparently told at least one local politician that his real reason for opposing the development is that "all it does is produce Democrats." Yes folks, it has come to this - Republicans are now so intent on enforcing the red/blue divide that they're even trying to stop Democrats from moving into their districts. Tell you what Tom, why don't you just build a big wall all the way round DC so you can keep the "culturally urban" folks right where you want them?

9Bill Frist religious nut excessive spin
Bill Frist is really going out on a limb to promote his so-called "nuclear option" - that is, his attempt to prevent Democrats from filibustering George W. Bush's judicial nominees. Never mind the fact that Senate Democrats have only rejected ten of Bush's two-hundred-plus nominees - Frist sees this failure to compromise (read: bow down before him) as an example of the filibuster "being used against people of faith." Huh? That's right - Bill Frist has decided to turn a political argument about Senate rules into the Republican party's latest attempt to stir their conservative Christian base into a frenzy. So yesterday Frist was scheduled to appear on video at "Justice Sunday" events across the country - a massive, organized attempt by certain tax-exempt radical right-wingers to inject their own personal brand of religion into the government of the United States. I imagine we'll have more about Justice Sunday next week when the reports have come in. But Frist should probably take note of the fact that even members of his own party are keen to avoid the nuclear option - according to the Associated Press, private Republican polling showed "scant support" for Frist's plan last week. So what is Frist playing at? Does he really want to turn the United States of America into a theocracy? I guess so...

10Rush Limbaugh dumb
And finally, Oxycontin Boy offered an "apology" of sorts last week after going on a live, on-air rant about, um, blow jobs. Limbaugh was reacting to the news that Al Gore's new cable TV network will soon be up-and-running, with programming intended to "reflect the point of view of young people." Clearly the point of view of young people is not something Rush particularly wants to hear. "What the hell is that, Al?" he exploded. "What the hell is the point of view of young people? Blow jobs, that's what they're doing out there. They're out there getting oral sex all day long, that's what they're talking about." Uh, what? Limbaugh managed to blame - you guessed it - Bill Clinton for the popularity of blow jobs among young people these days, despite the fact that while Bill wanted to keep his indiscretions private, it was Limbaugh and friends who made sure that oral sex became a daily topic of discussion. And anyway, is Rush seriously trying to suggest that nobody ever got a blow job before 1998? What a tool. (For a full and frank explanation of Rush's aversion to oral sex you really should check out James Wolcott's website.) Later in the show Limbaugh said, "I am going to apologize not for saying what I said, but I'm going to apologize if it offended anybody ... My reaction is, somebody go ahead and turn me into the FCC. I'll be honored to be fined. It's just another government agency with its hand in my back pocket, so go right ahead." Ooh, tough guy. See you next week!

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