Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 220)

October 31, 2005
Indict, Sweet Prince Edition

Last week the rest of the country finally learned what we've all known for years: The country is being run by criminals, and the corruption reaches all the way (or damn close) to the top. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald indicted Scooter Libby (1), who just happens to be the Chief of Staff to the most powerful Vice President in the history of the United States. And presidential advisor Karl Rove (2) was publicly identified as the source responsible for leaking Valerie Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak, putting partisan politics before national security. Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

1Scooter Libby indicted
Last week Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby had the dubious honor of becoming the first sitting White House official in 135 years to be indicted. According to prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald:

Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003.

But Mr. Novak was not the first reporter to be told that Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, Ambassador Wilson's wife Valerie, worked at the CIA. Several other reporters were told.

In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson.

Fitzgerald continued:

Mr. Libby gave the FBI a compelling story.

What he told the FBI is that essentially he was at the end of a long chain of phone calls. He spoke to reporter Tim Russert, and during the conversation Mr. Russert told him that, Hey, do you know that all the reporters know that Mr. Wilson's wife works at the CIA?

And he told the FBI that he learned that information as if it were new, and it struck him. So he took this information from Mr. Russert and later on he passed it on to other reporters, including reporter Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, reporter Judith Miller of the New York Times.

And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on on July 12th, 2003, two days before Mr. Novak's column, that he passed it on understanding that this was information he had gotten from a reporter; that he didn't even know if it was true.

And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on to the reporters he made clear that he did know if this were true. This was something that all the reporters were saying and, in fact, he just didn't know and he wanted to be clear about it.

Later, Mr. Libby went before the grand jury on two occasions in March of 2004. He took and oath and he testified. And he essentially said the same thing.

He said that, in fact, he had learned from the vice president earlier in June 2003 information about Wilson's wife, but he had forgotten it, and that when he learned the information from Mr. Russert during this phone call he learned it as if it were new.

When he passed the information on to reporters Cooper and Miller late in the week, he passed it on thinking it was just information he received from reporters; that he told reporters that, in fact, he didn't even know if it were true. He was just passing gossip from one reporter to another at the long end of a chain of phone calls.

It would be a compelling story that will lead the FBI to go away if only it were true. It is not true, according to the indictment.

In fact, Mr. Libby discussed the information about Valerie Wilson at least half a dozen times before this conversation with Mr. Russert ever took place, not to mention that when he spoke to Mr. Russert, Mr. Russert and he never discussed Valerie Wilson or Wilson's wife.

So it seems Libby assumed that he would be safe to lay the blame at the feet of reporters because they would adhere to their ethical code and not out him as their source. Unfortunately for Libby, they weren't that stupid. (Except Judith Miller, and Libby let her sweat in jail for three months before he realized that the jig was up.) The result: perjury, making false statements, and obstruction of justice.

Shortly after Libby handed in his resignation George W. Bush called him "one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known," and said, "We're all saddened by today's news."

I guess this is what Our Great Leader was talking about when he promised to return honor and integrity to the White House.

2Karl Rove covering your ass
Before we get started on Karl Rove's role in all this, let's take a look at what George W. Bush has had to say about the CIA leak case over the past two years (video hosted by

If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. If the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of. - September 30, 2003

You know, there's a lot of leaking in Washington D.C. It's a town famous for it. And if this helps to stop leaks, this investigation, in finding the truth, it will not only hold someone to account who should not have leaked - it's a serious charge by the way, we're talking about a criminal action - and, uh, but, hopefully will help send a clear signal that we expect other leaks to stop as well, so I look forward to finding the truth. - October 6, 2003

I don't know if we're going to find out that the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials, I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators. Full disclosure, everything we know, the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is. Partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers. But we'll find out. - October 7, 2003

REPORTER: Given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly vice president Cheney's discussion with investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the information, and do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?

BUSH: Yes. And it's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts. - June 10, 2004

If somebody did leak classified information I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing. - July 12, 2005

I don't know all the facts, I want to know all the facts. Best place for the facts to be found is by someone spending time investigating it. I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime they will no longer work in my administration. - July 18, 2005

Now, according to Scooter Libby's indictment, "On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House ("Official A") who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson's wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson's trip. LIBBY was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson's wife."

There's little doubt that "Official A" is Karl Rove, and that he was the person responsible for leaking Valerie Plame's identity - which was classified - to Robert Novak.

Last Friday Rove was yukking it up with reporters outside his home, saying "I am going to have a great Friday and a fantastic weekend and hope you do too." Funny - if someone I worked extremely closely with for five years was about to be indicted, I probably would have been a bit less upbeat. But then I'm not a heartless bastard like Karl Rove.

So what are we to make of all this? As I mentioned, George W. Bush had previously said "I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators. Full disclosure, everything we know, the investigators will find out." Bush also said that he stood by his pledge to fire anyone who leaked the information.

It's also probably worth taking another look at what the president's father, George H.W. Bush, said to the CIA back in April 1999:

Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.

To be sure there's certainly still a lot of confusion in this case. But one thing is clear: George W. Bush doesn't give a damn about returning honor and integrity to the White House. Because if he did, he'd have fired Karl Rove already.

3Bill Frist greed
We noted recently (see Idiots 215) that Bill Frist was in a spot of bother over a dubious stock sale - he dumped shares in his family's medical corporation just before a disappointing earnings report. Bill says he did nothing wrong - and anyway, those stocks were in a "blind trust" so he could avoid a conflict of interest.

Well consider that conflict of interest, um, unavoided. New documents released last week reveal that the trust managers "routinely informed Frist whenever shares of Hospital Corp. of America Inc. were added to his portfolio," according to the Denver Post. The Post continued, "If Martha Stewart can be jailed for lying about a quarter-of-a-million episode of insider trading, Frist may be sweating."

True, but that also opens up the the exciting possibility of "The Apprentice: Bill Frist," which, let's face it, would be awesome. When he ditches a contestant at the end of every episode his catchphrase could be, "You're in a vegetative state." Or, "Step into my laboratory, Mr. Frisky."

Incidentally, Bill Frist also said last week that the Senate won't be investigating the CIA leak case. Now there's a shocking surprise.

4Tom DeLay indicted excessive spin
We all know that the Former Hammer, Tom DeLay (R-Shit Creek), was recently indicted on money laundering and conspiracy charges. But did you know that Mr. DeLay recently suffered a serious concussion? At least, that's what I'm gathering from his bizarre comments last week.

Tom has decided to fight the charges against him by using a tried and true conservative tactic - blaming everybody else. In particular he's been going after the prosecutor Ronnie Earle, and, of course, those nasty mean Democrats who have apparently been engaging in "the politics of personal destruction."

Not that Tom would ever indulge in such activity you understand. Have you seen that TV ad which compares Ronnie Earle to a snarling attack dog? Tom DeLay disapproves of it so much that he's, um, been echoing it's theme wherever he goes.

The theme? "It's not a crime to be a conservative" - which brings me back to DeLay's bizarre comments. Last week he said, "What we're fighting is so much larger than a single court case or a single district attorney in Travis County. We are witnessing the criminalization of conservative politics."

No Tom. What we're witnessing is people waking up to the fact that conservative politics are criminal. You probably should have figured out that out before you got yourself arrested. Oh well, too late now.

5Tom Noe indicted
It seems that money laundering is the cool new thing for conservative big-wigs to do these days. But then, this is what happens when you have poor role-models. I imagine that half of these conservatives would jump off a bridge if Tom DeLay did it first. For shame.

But anyway, Republican fundraiser Tom Noe of Ohio was indicted last week for "illegally funneling $45,400 to President Bush’s re-election campaign," according to the Toledo Blade. Mr. Noe allegedly broke campaign finance laws while raising money for Bush in 2004. Comically, he was later named a "Pioneer" by the Bush campaign for raising more than $100,000.

If you're wondering how big a deal this is, the chief of the Justice Department’s public integrity section said, "This case represents one of the first and most important examples of this new enforcement posture under the new law and is one of the most blatant and excessive criminal campaign finance schemes we have encountered."

My advice to Mr. Noe would be to find some friendly interest group to create a TV ad accusing the prosecutor of being a rapacious weasel or a poisonous spider or some other uncomplimentary animal, and then go around complaining about the criminalization of conservative politics. After all, WWTDD?

6PhRMA fearmongering
Time to move on now from conservative criminals and get back to plain old conservative idiots. Last week it was revealed that a few years ago the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) approached an author with an unusual request. They wanted him to write a novel in which "a group of shadowy terrorists conspires to murder thousands of Americans by poisoning the medicine they're importing from Canada to beat U.S. drug prices," according to the Los Angeles Times.

I'm not joking. They actually did that. But while this story may seem like a total farce, it does raise the possibility of other big corporations hiring novelists to disseminate propaganda among the masses:

sponsored by Exxon which a hydrogen-powered car starts killing people. Or...

sponsored by the Trinity Broadcasting Network

In which a group of renegade judicial activists plot to turn
America's children, like, totally gay. Or...

sponsored by the White House

In which terrorists crash an airplane into a government building,
ultimately giving the president power to take the country to war
in the middle east. Wait a minute. That actually happened.

7 Grant Dixton dumb
Special notice to White House lawyers: the use of the presidential seal in the above item is a joke. Hey, I have to put that in - you never know what might happen these days.

Just last week The Onion received a letter from White House lawyer Grant Dixton informing them that the presidential seal - which the satirical newspaper displays on their website as part of their regular parody on the presidential weekly address - "is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement." Honestly, does the White House have nothing better to do?

Of course, Dixton isn't the first person to be fooled by The Onion's biting satire. However, he may well be the dumbest. "I'm surprised the president deems it wise to spend taxpayer money for his lawyer to write letters to The Onion," replied Scott Dikkers, editor-in-chief.

All's well that ends well though - The Onion have refused to remove the seal from their website, but they have generously decided to give the White House a complimentary subscription. I'm sure they'll love that.

8GOP House "Leadership" hypocrisy
You may remember Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Obviously) from his previous appearances in the Top 10 Conservative Idiots: the married Sherwood allegedly assaulted his mistress at his apartment in Washington DC (see Idiots 197 and 207).

Sherwood originally denied that he had a mistress, then later fessed up and admitted that he had in fact been cheating on his wife for five years. He still denies attempting to choke her.

Not that any of this matters to the Republican leadership. According to the Washington Post, Sherwood has recently received $26,000 in campaign contributions from:

Keep Our Majority PAC (Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois), Rely on Your Beliefs Fund (Majority Leader Roy Blunt of Missouri), the Freedom Project (John A. Boehner of Ohio) and TOMPAC (Thomas M. Reynolds of New York).

Sherwood's campaign also received $2,500 from the PRYCE Project PAC (Deborah Pryce of Ohio) and the Prosperity Helps Inspire Liberty PAC (Phil English of Pennsylvania); and $1,000 from the Help America's Leaders PAC (Harold Rogers of Kentucky).

Now why would these stalwart supporters of family values decide to funnel such generous campaign contributions to a man who admits cheating on his wife and may is still under investigation for assault and battery?

Surely it couldn't be because they're despicable hypocrites.

9Dick Cheney just plain evil
Vice president Dick might be breathing a sigh of relief after narrowly escaping the clutches of Patrick Fitzgerald, but let's face it: the guy is still scum. Last week the Washington Post called Cheney the "Vice President for Torture" after he asked the Senate "to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit ... abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad."

The Post continued:

It's not surprising that Mr. Cheney would be at the forefront of an attempt to ratify and legalize this shameful record. The vice president has been a prime mover behind the Bush administration's decision to violate the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and to break with decades of past practice by the U.S. military. These decisions at the top have led to hundreds of documented cases of abuse, torture and homicide in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You know, I think I preferred Cheney when he was tucked away in an undisclosed location.

10Harriet Miers cronyism
And finally...

Gee, and there I was thinking that conservatives were insistent on giving all judicial nominees an up-or-down vote. See you next week!

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