Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 196)

May 2, 2005
Forty-three Times Ten Edition

Hoo boy, this duck isn't just lame - it's had its legs amputated. George W. Bush took to the airwaves last week in an attempt to prop up his approval ratings, and for his fabulous efforts he receives - for the first time ever - all ten slots on the Top 10 Conservative Idiots list. Way to go, prez! All the press conference quotes listed below come from the transcript on the official White House website. Due to Our Great Leader's Great Press Conference, I must apologize if I've missed your favorite story from the list - we do have a "Best of the Rest" section at the end for some of the other idiocy of the week. Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

1Prime-Time Party-Pooper hypocrisy
He started weak and got worse, but let's begin with the most obvious hypocrisy of the night, which came when Bush responded to this question:

Q: Mr. President, a majority of Americans disapprove of your handling of Social Security, rising gas prices and the economy. Are you frustrated by that and by the fact that you're having trouble gaining traction on your agenda in a Republican-controlled Congress?

The predictable answer:

BUSH: Polls? You know, if a President tries to govern based upon polls, you're kind of like a dog chasing your tail. I don't think you can make good, sound decisions based upon polls. And I don't think the American people want a President who relies upon polls and focus groups to make decisions for the American people.

Yeah, right! Which is why, faced with his approval ratings dropping through the floor, Team Bush decided that it would be prudent to interrupt everyone's Thursday night entertainment with a prime-time press conference. Where he could talk about how, uh, approval ratings aren't important to him.

But considering how tightly the administration manages its messages you'd think someone would have pointed out that 8:00pm on the biggest television night of the week is not the best time to try to prop up your poll numbers. Especially when the night in question also happens to be the first night of May sweeps. So millions of Americans across the country who were settled in to see a brand new episode of their favorite show were instead treated to an hour-long Chimpfomerical where they learned that George W. Bush is going to take away their Social Security benefits. Now that's what I call smart politics!

2It's A Gas hypocrisy
Let's go back to the top. Bush's first big issue of the night was the nation's concern over rising gas prices. He began:

BUSH: Millions of American families and small businesses are hurting because of higher gasoline prices. My administration is doing everything we can to make gasoline more affordable. In the near-term, we will continue to encourage oil producing nations to maximize their production. Here at home, we'll protect consumers.

Hear that folks? Bush is doing everything he can to make gasoline more affordable and protect consumers. Nice of him to assume some responsibility. But wait, what's this? Ten minutes later...

BUSH: You can't wave a magic wand. I wish I could. It's like that soldier at Fort Hood that said, how come you're not lowering the price of gasoline? I was having lunch with the fellow, and he said, go lower the price of gasoline, President. I said, I wish I could. It just doesn't work that way.

Oh... well I guess Our Great Leader was tiptoeing through the tulips with Prince Abdullah for nothing then.

Photo: Reuters

Still, at least Saudi Arabia is gonna get into the WTO! You know, considering Bush's great love of freedom and democracy and his distaste for terrorism he's got a lot of balls to walk around holding hands and playing kissyface with the chief representative of a country which happens to be one of the world's most brutal religious dictatorships, one of the worst violators of human rights on the planet, and the home of fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. I'm just sayin'.

3Antisocial Security fiscal irresponsibility
Of course, the main reason for Bush's press conference was to prop up his disastrous ideas for Social Security "reform" - which, after 60 days of fake town hall meetings are now disapproved of by 64% of Americans. Last Thursday night he finally laid out his long-awaited plan. Surprise! It sucks. Said Bush:

BUSH: I believe a reform system should protect those who depend on Social Security the most. So I propose a Social Security system in the future where benefits for low-income workers will grow faster than benefits for people who are better off.

Bottom line: Bush wants to means-test Social Security. The idea is that "people who are better off" will receive a smaller Social Security check than "those who depend on Social Security the most." So who are these "people who are better off?"

According to the Center for American Progress, Bush's plan would eventually reduce the benefits of someone who earns $58,000 a year by 42%. In fact, his benefit cuts will affect everyone who earns more than $20,000 a year. Not exactly what you'd call "wealthy," is it? Yup, at the end of the day, his plan for Social Security is a massive assault on the middle class, and for what? So that he doesn't have to roll back some of the huge tax cuts he gave his millionaire friends.

I'm not a big fan of putting graphs into the Top 10, but you really have to see these (from the Economic Policy Institute):

Any more questions?

Oh, by the way, while Our Great Leader's Great Press Conference was going on, Republicans in the House and Senate passed a budget which will cut Medicare and Medicaid, as well as health, education and agriculture programs. Don't worry though - the millionaires are still getting their tax break.

4Terror, Terrorer, Terrorest helping the terrorists
Here's a question that deserves a serious answer, since - despite the fact that Bush mentioned the war on terror more times in the thirty days leading up to last November's election than he has in the six months after the election - the terrorism issue is about the only thing propping him up in the polls these days.

Q: Mr. President, your State Department has reported that terrorist attacks around the world are at an all-time high. If we're winning the war on terrorism, as you say, how do you explain that more people are dying in terrorist attacks on your watch than ever before?

Isn't that a good question? Why are more people dying in terrorist attacks on Bush's watch than ever before? Here's his answer:

BUSH: Well, we've made the decision to defeat the terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them here at home. And when you engage the terrorists abroad, it causes activity and action. And we're relentless. We, the - America and our coalition partners.

I'm sorry to interrupt, Mr. Bush, but could you explain then how it is that your policies to tackle the terrorists head-on are working, given that attacks in 2004 more than tripled the number of attacks in 2003, and are now at a record high?

BUSH: We understand the stakes, and they're very high because there are people still out there that would like to do harm to the American people.

Uh, okay, but didn't you just say that we're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here? I mean, from what you're saying it sounds like we're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here, but they're going to fight us here anyway.

BUSH: But our strategy is to stay on the offense, is to keep the pressure on these people, is to cut off their money and to share intelligence and to find them where they hide. And we are making good progress. The al Qaeda network that attacked the United States has been severely diminished. We are slowly but surely dismantling that organization.

Ah yes! Like how you almost caught Zarqawi last week, except he apparently escaped by "rolling from the truck under an underpass, then fleeing on foot to a safehouse somewhere in the vicinity." Which is pretty impressive when you consider that the Bush administration spent a good part of the run-up to the Iraq invasion trying to tie al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein by claiming that Zarqawi had his leg amputated in Baghdad. I kid you not.

Still, at least they got Zarqawi's laptop. And how do they know it's Zarqawi's laptop? Because it contained pictures of him, in a folder called... "My Pictures." Again, I kid you not. But I'm sorry Mr. Bush, please continue.

BUSH: In the long run, Terry - like I said earlier - the way to defeat terror, though, is to spread freedom and democracy. It's really the only way in the long-term. In the short-term, we'll use our troops and assets and agents to find these people and to protect America. But in the long-term, we must defeat the hopelessness that allows them to recruit by spreading freedom and democracy. But we're making progress.

For some reason I just feel like looking at this picture again...

By the way, did Bush explain why, if we're making progress, the number of terrorist attacks in 2004 was three times the number of attacks in 2003? I mean, a lot of words certainly came out of his mouth, but I'm not sure he answered the question.

5Bush Soils Evangelical Underpants
Still, if there's one good thing that came out of the press conference, it's that Bush pulled the rug out from beneath his fundamentalist supporters. While responding to this question:

Q: Mr. President, recently the head of the Family Research Council said that judicial filibusters are an attack against people of faith. And I wonder whether you believe that, in fact, that is what is nominating [sic] Democrats who oppose your judicial choices? And I wonder what you think generally about the role that faith is playing, how it's being used in our political debates right now?

... Bush said:

BUSH: Well, I can only speak to myself, and I am mindful that people in political office should not say to somebody, you're not equally American if you don't happen to agree with my view of religion. As I said, I think faith is a personal issue, and I get great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me on religion. The great thing about America, David, is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want, and if you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship. And if you choose to worship, you're equally American if you're a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim. That's the wonderful thing about our country, and that's the way it should be.

I say hats off to George W. Bush for this statement! He truly is a uniter, not a divider, and we should make sure his words are shouted from the rooftops.

Now, I do hope his evangelical base is paying attention, especially since they just held a nationally televised conference - featuring none other than the Senate Majority Leader - in which they tried to claim that Democratic Senators opposing the remnants of Bush's judicial nominees are unpatriotic and anti-Constitutional. What was it that R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on Justice Sunday? Ah yes: "We are not asking for persons merely to be moral. We want them to be believers."

Sorry Mr. Mohler, the guy you helped elect said last week that every American is equally patriotic, regardless of whether they choose to worship or not, and regardless of their own personal belief system.

Ha ha!

6 A Mouthful of Hogwash dumb
Now let's take a break to enjoy some classic Bushisms from last Thursday's press conference:

On natural gas:

BUSH: Gas is - can only be transported by ship, though, when you liquefy it, when you put it in solid form.

On terrorists:

BUSH: It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way.

In conclusion:

BUSH: Thank you for your answers.

Big props on that last one to the Official White House Scrubbers, who changed the transcript on the White House website from "answers" to "interest." Good job, guys!

7Russian All Over The Place hypocrisy
On foreign policy, Bush was just as clear as he was on domestic policy - that is, about as clear as mud. The first country on Our Great Leader's list was Russia.

Q: Mr. President, it was four years ago when you first met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. You said you looked into his eyes and you saw his soul. You'll also be meeting with the Russian leader in about a week or so. What do you think of Putin now that he has expressed a willingness to supply weapons to outlaw regimes, specifically his recent comments that he said he would provide short-range missiles to Syria and nuclear components to Iran?

Yes, Mr. President, what do you think of that?

BUSH: We have - first, just on a broader - kind of in a broader sense, I had a long talk with Vladimir there in Slovakia about democracy and about the importance of democracy. And as you remember, at the press conference - or if you weren't there, somebody will remember - he stood up and said he strongly supports democracy. I take him for his word.

Oh, okay - well pay no attention to what he's actually doing then. Dude, you are such the moron. Now, moving on, what was it that George W. Bush said about nations who helped "rogue states?" Let's see: "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror." And, "we are confronting outlaw regimes that aid terrorists, and pursue weapons of mass destruction and defy the demands of the world." That's some tough talk, pilgrim. So how's Bush going to deal with his soul-mate Vladimir now that he's selling missiles to Syria?

BUSH: We're working closely with the Russians on - on the issue of vehicle-mounted weaponry to Syria. We didn't appreciate that, but we made ourselves clear.

Take that, Pooty-Poot!

8Korea Guard Action dumb
But enough of Russia - let's move on to North Korea. Mr. Bush, your move:

BUSH: Kim Jong-il is a dangerous person. He's a man who starves his people. He's got huge concentration camps. And, as David accurately noted, there is concern about his capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon. We don't know if he can or not, but I think it's best when you're dealing with a tyrant like Kim Jong-il to assume he can. That's why I've decided that the best way to deal with this diplomatically is to bring more leverage to the situation by including other countries. It used to be that it was just America dealing with North Korea. And when Kim Jong-il would make a move that would scare people, everybody would say, America, go fix it. I felt it - it didn't work.

Didn't work? I mean, I know he's an evil liberal and all, but Nicholas Kristoff noted last week that "The single greatest failure of the Bush administration's foreign policy concerns North Korea. Mr. Bush's policies toward North Korea have backfired and led the North to churn out nuclear weapons, and they have also antagonized our allies and diminished America's stature in Asia." Why? Because when Bill Clinton was president, North Korea froze its nuclear program. When George W. Bush came to power, they started making nukes again. Bush dilly-dallied for so long that even his father's North Korea expert, Charles Pritchard, declared, "They blew it."

Don't worry though, Bush has still got his old fall-back plan:

BUSH: Finally, as you know, I have instructed Secretary Rumsfeld - and I work with Congress - Secretary Rumsfeld has worked with Congress to set up a missile defense system. And we're in the process of getting that missile defense system up and running. One of the reasons why I thought it was important to have a missile defense system is for precisely the reason that you brought up, that perhaps Kim Jong-il has got the capacity to launch a weapon, and wouldn't it be nice to be able to shoot it down.

Yes, wouldn't it be nice? Although I thought we'd already established that "You can't wave a magic wand."

9We Don't Need No Edumication dumb
Towards the end of the press conference, Bush took a question about his No Child Left Behind plan.

Q: Mr. President, you've made No Child Left Behind a big part of your education agenda. The nation's largest teachers union has filed suit against it, saying it's woefully inadequately funded. What's your response to that? And do you think that No Child Left Behind is working?

Permit me to add a little emphasis to Bush's response.

BUSH: Yes, I think it's working. And the reason why I think it's working is because we're measuring, and the measurement is showing progress toward teaching people how to read and write and add and subtract. Listen, the whole theory behind No Child Left Behind is this: if we're going to spend federal money, we expect the states to show us whether or not we're achieving simple objectives -- like literacy, literacy in math, the ability to read and write. And, yes, we're making progress. And I can say that with certainty because we're measuring, Richard.

Look, I'm a former governor, I believe states ought to control their own destiny when it comes to schools. They are by far the biggest funder of education, and it should remain that way. But we spend a lot of money here at the federal level and have increased the money we spend here quite dramatically at the federal level. And we changed the policy: instead of just spending money and hope for the best, we're now spending money and saying, measure.

And some people don't like to measure. But if you don't measure, how do you know whether or not you've got a problem in a classroom? I believe it's best to measure early and correct problems early, before it's too late. That's why as a part of the No Child Left Behind Act we had money available for remedial education. In other words, we said we're going to measure, and when we detect someone who needs extra help, that person will get extra help.

Hey numbnuts, how about addressing the fact that the NEA is suing your ass for not measuring up when it comes to funding your ridiculous bureaucratic boondoggle?

10Terrorism Part Two helping the terrorists warmongering
Lastly, let's just get back to the issue of terrorism for a moment. Here's Our Great Leader invoking his favorite subject: 9/11.

BUSH: One of my - I've said this before to you, I'm going to say it again, one of my concerns after September the 11th is the farther away we got from September the 11th, the more relaxed we would all become and assume that there wasn't an enemy out there ready to hit us. And I just can't let the American people - I'm not going to let them down by assuming that the enemy is not going to hit us again. We're going to do everything we can to protect us.

Great - but it really would have been cool if Bush could have had this attitude before 9/11. According to Newsweek, newly released documents reveal that "a convicted terrorist was providing U.S. officials with very specific information about a terrorist attack three months before 9/11." Yup - it's yet more proof that the administration had plenty of warnings about an Al Qaeda attack on U.S. soil and failed to do anything about them.

Still, at least Bush took bold action after 9/11 to capture the person responsible - Saddam Hussein. Wait a second, that's not right. Where's Osama bin Laden again? You may well ask - secret British documents released last week show that instead of hunting for bin Laden, Bush was busy gearing up for war in Iraq. According to the UK Independent the minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair and his closest aides reveal that back in July of 2002, "the head of British intelligence reported that President Bush had firmly made up his mind to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, adding that 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.'" Oh. My. God.


The Best of the Rest

Our Great Leader has taken up the entire list this week, but there was plenty of other noteworthy conservative idiocy in the past seven days. Here's a quick rundown:

The National Republican Congressional Committee gave a 2004 Ronald Reagan Republican Gold Medal award to Ira Stern of Milford, NH - Stern was previously convicted of stealing more than $600,000 in a business loan scam ... Rush Limbaugh might be about to do the perp-walk for dealing OxyContin ... and Time magazine discovered Tom DeLay smoking a Cuban stogie. It probably wouldn't have been a big deal if DeLay hadn't once said, "Every dime that finds its way into Cuba first finds its way into Fidel Castro's blood-thirsty hands.... American consumers will get their fine cigars and their cheap sugar, but at the cost of our national honor." Oops.

DeLay's connections to accused lobbyist Jack Abramoff are dragging him deeper and deeper into the muck - turns out that they once shared a cozy hotel experience in Russia ... Fox News knows who's responsible for high gas prices (you guessed it - it's liberals) ... The folks at the Center for Reclaiming America are apparently so stupid that they think Moby wants to make his children gay by feeding them soy milk ... But not so fast, Moby! State Rep. Robert Talton of Texas wants to make it illegal for people to "choose" to be gay before the age of 18. What an ass.

And finally, for those of you who are feeling a little off-color after reading this week's list, please report to Dennis Madalone's website for a hot patriotism enema. See you next week!

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