Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 214)

September 19, 2005
Hell Freezes Over Edition

The city of New Orleans is still underwater, and Hell is covered in a sheet of ice. That's because George W. Bush (1, 3, 6) has done something he's never done before in his presidency, if not his entire life. Over at the U.S. Senate, Republicans (2) are helping cover the Administration's collective ass, and John Roberts (5) has been keeping his mouth firmly closed. Meanwhile, Jerry Kilgore (7) showed that he's a hypocrite, while Glenn Beck (8) showed that he's a total scumbag. And Bill O'Reilly and Condoleezza Rice (9) are talkin' coffee. Don't miss the awesome picture book preview this week! Enjoy and don't forget the key!

1George W. Bush covering your ass covering your ass excessive spin
At a Tuesday news conference with the president of Iraq, George W. Bush said: "Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility." And at that moment, Hell froze over.

Remember that this is the president who, when asked in 2004 to name his biggest mistake, was unable to think of a single one. And this is the administration that has spent the last five years shifting blame onto everyone else but themselves. (Apparently there is a snappy name for this type of blame-shifting activity. I am racking my brain trying to remember it right now, but for some reason I cannot. Perhaps it has not been used very much recently. I think that it rhymes.) The media, duly impressed by Bush's incredibly magnanimous gesture, immediately began to regret the fact that they were so hard on the guy one week earlier. Sure, an entire city is still chin-deep in raw sewage, and there are a whole bunch of dead people because of his incompetence, but he took responsibility. So within an hour or so the entire media had somehow collectively agreed to give up on that whole unseemly "journalism" thing, and went back to licking Bush's boots.

But talk is cheap. Just in case you might be inclined to believe that through the utterance of a few simple words Bush's has somehow made up for past mistakes and wiped the slate clean, we would like to show you the slate, as it currently stands:

George W. Bush Accountability Scorecard Accepted
9/11   No
Iraq   No
Enron   No
Federal budget deficit   No
Gasoline prices   No
John Ashcroft   No
Everyone on the planet hates us now   No
Abu Ghraib   No
Guantanamo Bay   No
Osama Bin Laden still at large   No
No WMDs   No
Halliburton   No
Valerie Plame   No
"Mission Accomplished"   No
Lying to the American people   No
Donald Rumsfeld   No
Diebold   No
Ohio 2004   No
Florida 2000   No
Energy Task Force   No
No-bid contracts   No
"Bring it on"   No
Armstrong Williams   No
"Now watch this drive"   No
Chickenhawking   No
"16 words"   No
Downing Street Memo   No
Swift Boat Smear   No
Billy Bush on Access Hollywood   No
Federal response to Hurricane Katrina Yes*  
*to the extent that the federal government didn't do its job fully. Which is debatable.

One down, approximately 30+ left to go. Well done, Dubya.

2Senate Republicans partisanship partisanship covering your ass
While we're on the topic of accountability, it turns out that the administration and their cronies in Congress aren't that interested in figuring out what happened after all. In the wake of one of the worst government screw-ups in memory, you would think that our elected leaders would want to put aside partisan differences and find out what actually went wrong. When he famously took responsibility George W. Bush even admitted that Katrina "exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government." So wouldn't it follow that they want to figure out what those serious problems were? Um, no.

Last week when Senator Hillary Clinton proposed the creation of an independent, non-partisan commission, similar to the hugely successful 9/11 commission, to investigate what went wrong in the response to Hurricane Katrina, Republicans in the United States Senate killed the proposal. So, it seems that they're actually not that interested in getting answers. Which kinda makes you wonder what they've got to hide.

3George W. Bush fiscal irresponsibility fiscal irresponsibility
Much to Bush's consternation, uttering the words "I take responsibility" did not miraculously make everything better. Eventually it became apparent that he would need to do more to help the victims of the Hurricane, and to improve his flagging approval ratings. So on Thursday he held a televised address to the nation in which he promised "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." Some in the president's own party estimated that Bush's reconstruction proposals would cost more than the war in Iraq, hundreds of billions of dollars.

There once was a time when a massive increase in spending such as this would cause some killjoy, green-eyeshade, bean-counter types to ask, sheepishly, "um, how, exactly, are you going to pay for that?" As you well know, that time is long past. Cough, cough. Our country is now so ridiculously far beyond the point where government revenues no longer cover our expenses, that it is laughable to even bother worrying about it. In 2004, the federal budget deficit was a record $412 billion. Throw in the money for Hurricane Katrina reconstruction, and the deficit might as well be "$800 gajillion" because actual numbers no longer matter. It's all just a massive pile of IOUs to foreign creditors, which we will foist upon future generations of Americans without their consent.

So, what the heck, how about if we just go ahead and pass another massive tax cut for the rich? Now would be the perfect time! In fact, let's just get rid of taxes altogether. Instead, we'll keep on spending more and more, and we'll keep borrowing more money from foreign banks. And when those foreign banks ask us to pay the interest (or, God forbid, the principal) on their loans, we'll just take out more loans from more banks. It'll be the world's greatest pyramid scheme! If we're lucky, we will all be dead before anyone figures out that someone has to actually pay for all this borrowing. To my nieces and nephews and children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all I have to say is, "Ha! In your face, suckers!"

4Michael Chertoff dumb covering your ass
Former FEMA director Michael Brown was sent packing a week ago because, well, someone had to get sacked after the shameful federal response to Hurricane Katrina. And let's face it, he was totally incompetent. But since then we learned that we might have actually fired the wrong guy. According to federal documents reviewed by Knight Ridder Newspapers, "The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief."

The explanation is a little complicated, but basically it comes down to this: Michael Brown didn't have any authority to order a massive federal response until Michael Chertoff gave him that authority. And Chertoff didn't give him the authority until the afternoon of August 30 — about 36 hours after the Hurricane hit. Before that moment, Chertoff was in charge. And during that time when Chertoff was in charge, Chertoff didn't do anything. Except, perhaps, sit in his office and chertoff, if you know what I mean.

The White House and the Department of Homeland Security did not have any explanation for why Chertoff waited 36 hours before handing off authority. But in hindsight it looks pretty obvious, to me at least, what happened. You see, after about 36 hours Chertoff and everyone else in the Administration suddenly realized that they had totally screwed everything up, and someone had to be the fall guy. So you sign a few papers and declare that your clueless friend "Brownie" is in charge just in time so he can get the boot. Sweet.

5John Roberts excessive spin
The confirmation hearings for John Roberts to be the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court began this week. And even though they are called "hearings" there wasn't actually much to hear — from Roberts anyway. Despite senators' best efforts to get him to discuss his judicial philosophy on a number of important issues, Roberts responses were no more than eloquent variations on the theme: [Imagine grown man clasping hands over his mouth and making muffled "mmm ... mmm ... mmm" sounds as if unable to speak.] Check out this video from for a thirty-second recap of Robert's insightful testimony before the committee. A few choice quotes:

"I'm not going to comment." ... "I can't address that." ... "I feel the need to stay away from the discussion." ... "I don't remember." ... "I do not feel it appropriate for me to comment." ... "I don't want to discuss anything." ... "I can't answer that." ... "I don't know." ... "It's a matter I can't talk about." ... "I can't answer that." ... "I don't remember." ... "I don't recall." ... "I think I should stay away from discussions of particular issues." ... Lather ... Rinse ... Repeat ...

When an exasperated Senator Joe Biden pointed out that Roberts' answers were misleading, Arlen Specter, the Republican Chairman of the Judiciary Committee shot back (in a rare instance of Republican truth-telling), "They may be misleading, but they're his answers." Touché, senator!

Despite Roberts' stonewalling, the conventional wisdom is that this guy is going to breeze though the confirmation process without actually answering any questions. Which is pretty messed-up considering that this is a lifetime appointment to one of the most powerful offices in the land, with the power to overturn laws that have passed the Congress. You'd think that perhaps it might be important to know how this guy actually thinks about the important issues of the day. But for some reason, many people seem to think that Roberts is well qualified to sit on the court, precisely because of his lack of experience and unwillingness/inability to articulate any concrete opinions. Just imagine what would happen if we chose a president with those "qualifications"? Oh, wait, we did. And look what happened.

6George W. Bush dumb dumb dumb
At the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, a Reuters photographer caught George W. Bush writing a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Somewhat embarrassingly, it would seem that the most powerful man on the planet is incapable of going to the bathroom on his own:

Many people were upset with the photo, presumably because they were shocked to learn that the current president of the United States, whom many consider to be the second coming of Jesus Christ himself, actually uses the bathroom at all. It just seems so ... how do I say it ... earthly. But what most people don't know is that the photographer actually snapped a number of other photos which never made it to print. Fortunately we've got a contact over at Reuters who was able to sneak a few of the better ones out to us. Apparently the president gets easily bored when he's not eating, sleeping, or watching television. He finds the whole "international relations" thing to be particularly irritating, and will often doodle when the other world leaders drone on with their speechifying:

Apparently this next one is a common theme for presidential doodles. He draws it at least two or three times every day:

I have no clue what this is about:


7 Jerry Kilgore hypocrisy hypocrisy anti-choice
There's a a governor's race in Virginia this year. (Yes, I am aware that this is an odd-numbered year. If you've got a problem with that, take it up with Virginia.) Last Tuesday, the two major-party candidates — Tim Kaine (D) and Jerry Kilgore (R) — had a debate, which was moderated by none other than Tim Russert, who (for once) actually may have lived up to his undeserved reputation for toughness. With two vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court, there is a chance that the next governor of Virginia might be faced with the possibility that Roe v. Wade is overturned. If the Virginia legislature were to pass a bill outlawing abortion, Russert asked Kilgore if he would sign the bill. Seems like a pretty simple question for a candidate who claims to be pro-life on his website, and who has been endorsed by the National Right to Life PAC. Kilgore refused to answer the question on the grounds that it was "hypothetical," which is the lamest excuse ever. Pardon me for misunderstanding here, but if you call yourself "pro-life" doesn't that mean that you support making abortion illegal? But if this joker actually had the chance to make abortion illegal, apparently he isn't really sure what he would do. So, like, um .... What the heck have we all been fighting over for the last thirty years? Apparently the "pro-life" side has been just kidding. Is it possible that the Republican opposition to abortion rights was all just cynical political posturing? Say it ain't so!

To his credit, Tim Russert saw the obvious hypocrisy in Kilgore's position and went for the jugular. He asked Kilgore if he would veto a tax increase passed by legislature. Kilgore — who apparently is too stupid to recognize a set-up — said that he would. (Duh.) And just in case anyone else in the room was as stupid as Kilgore, which is likely since there were other media there, Russert explained, "That's a hypothetical question." At which point Kilgore, sensing that something bad had just happened, wrote on the note pad on his podium, "Note to self: ask aides what 'hypothetical' means."

8Glenn Beck just plain evil
I swear to God I am not making this up. Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck called survivors of Hurricane Katrina "scumbags." He also said that he "hates" the families of 9-11 victims. You know, I'm sitting here, trying to come up with something clever and witty to say about this guy. But as far as I'm concerned he isn't even worth the effort. Nothing that I do or say is going to make this guy sound any worse than he actually is. He's just a despicable human being. A despicable human being with a radio program on 160 radio stations, with an audience of approximately 3 million people. So, instead of wasting my time, I'm just going to post a few select quotes, courtesy of Media Matters for America. I give you, Glenn Beck, in his own words.

You know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year. ...

And when I see a 9-11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, "Oh shut up!" I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining. ...

I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims. ...

All we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we're seeing on television are the scumbags. ...

I would like to believe that this attitude is an aberration; that it is not typical of conservatives generally, or of conservative talk radio hosts in particular. But it's not. To the extent that he actually said it on the air, yes, Glenn Beck is the exception. But his knee-jerk attitude toward the victims in society is not an aberration at all. In fact, it's pretty much the emotional and intellectual foundation for the entire conservative agenda, which is all about helping the haves and screwing the have-nots.

9Bill O'Reilly and Condoleezza Rice dumb
If you are a regular reader of the Top Ten Conservative Idiots — or if you are a reader, for that matter — then surely you are already aware of the numerous problems plaguing Iraq. But leave it to Bill O'Reilly and Condoleezza Rice to draw attention to the issues that really matter. On the deadliest day of violence in Iraq since the end of combat operations, O'Reilly and Rice were talking about — wait for it — the scarcity of a good cup of joe in Baghdad. Our friends over at Think Progress have the video.

O'Reilly: The truth of the matter is that our correspondents here at Fox News can't go out for a cup of coffee in Baghdad. ... That's tough. That's tough.

Rice: No, it's tough. But would they want to go out for a cup of coffee when Saddam Hussein was in power?

Who says that Fox News doesn't ask the tough questions? While it's true that this Rice-O'Reilly discussion is utterly ridiculous, I suppose we should take some comfort from the fact that Fox News is broadcasting any bad news at all from Iraq. Now that they have gone so far as to admit on the air that you can't get a good cup of coffee in Baghdad, maybe next they might go a bit further and admit, oh, I don't know, that weapons of mass destruction have not actually been found. Or that we actually weren't greeted as liberators, and most regular Iraqis want us to get out of their country. Just a thought.

10Katharine DeBrecht dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb
When I first heard about this one, I thought it was a joke. But as far as I can tell this is absolutely true, and furthermore it is being done with an entirely straight face. On September 20th, author Katharine DeBrecht will release her new children's book entitled Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed. Yes, that's the actual title. Here is the kid-friendly cover, which shows (who else?) Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, who — if the cover is to believed — is at this moment trying to pinch your piggy bank while you are here reading:

We here at Democratic Underground were fortunate to get an advance copy of the book, and what we learned about liberals is truly shocking! Take a look at this hair-raising example of liberal treachery which we found in Chapter 5:

And who wouldn't be appalled when they read Chapter 6 and learn what all liberals like to do for fun during their spare time?

And then there's Chapter 9, which, well ... This is just too upsetting for words:

Hide the children! That is some some scary stuff! See you next week!

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