Recently, I was slaving away at my desk. As someone who is always in the pursuit of the newest nuance in American culture that rocks the American political scene, I was looking for pictures of a very attractive starlet-without any clothes on. As a picture was beginning to appear on my computer screen, the lights on a long dead FAX machine flashed.
The machine coughed and wheezed.
Soon it was makin more noise than a two-dollar radio.
Then the long dead FAX machine spit out a few pages of text.
A wiser person would care more than I do about how and why the long dead machine came to life. Being the geek I am, I didn't bother with anything like that. I read the FAX.
The FAX was mostly the transcript of a conversation between two people. One was that famous traitor from yesteryear we've all grown to know and hate-Judas.
The other participant in the conversation we know as a quixotic blending of twangy simplemindedness, verbal gaffes, and tactical blunders-G. W. Bush.
Judas and Bush are just gabbin away.
And they are sweatin more than a hooker in church. They're sweatin because they're in hell. For those of you who care, it doesn't look at all like Dante's hell-or even like Wal-Mart the day after Christmas. It looks a lot like a grid-locked freeway . . . somewhere in Georgia . . . in late August.
GW is appealing to move on up, if not to the right side of the big politician in the sky, at least to a slightly cooler locale.
Judas doesn't have a whole lot to do. So he's helping with GW's appeal.
After reading the transcript, I did a little fact checking. It soon became obvious that the words Bush says are not rubba-dub-dubbed, shellacked and spit-polished, or even toilet flushed exaggerations. Bush has said all the comments attributed to him.
Just a Little More Backstory
Much of the dialogue addresses a proposal California and twelve other states championed. They petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency. Inside the Washington beltway, we call it the EPA. Rumor has it that GW calls it epa.
California and twelve other states petitioned the EPA to allow their states to create fuel efficiency standards that are more strict than those the Feds have. These higher standards would require automobiles sold in their states to burn less gasoline. This would make the air cleaner and reduce the demand for fossil fuels.
As you would expect, the EPA denied California's request.
Because the story of the California petition and the EPA denial deserves a great deal more attention than it garnered, and because Judas-unlike so many in the media, asks not one but a series of follow-up questions-the transcript of the conversation follows.
Judas and GW
Judas began this way, "More than one person has whispered to me that they think your policies on the environment distill the essence of your administration. Would saying that be putting words in your mouth?"
"I don't particularly like it when people put words in my mouth, either, by the way, unless I say it."
"Regarding the EPA ruling on the suit brought by California and some other states. Did Governor Schwarzenegger call you specifically to talk about this issue?"
"All I can tell you is when the governor calls, I answer his phone."
"Don't you think it would be more fair to future generations if Americans did more to clean up the environment?"
"All of us in America want there to be fairness when it comes to justice."
Judas continued, "Would you say that the Bush administration has had a negative impact on the environment?"
"I'm going to try to see if I can remember as much to make it sound like I'm smart on the subject."
"Would you like to comment on why it took so long for the EPA to issue it's ruling?"
"This process has been drug out a long time, which says to me it's political."
"Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense supported the California initiative. He responded to the EPA ruling by saying, 'This decision is like pulling over the fire trucks on their way to the blaze,' Would you like to respond to comments like this?"
"There's a lot of blowhards in the political process, you know, a lot of hot-air artists, people who have got something fancy to say."
"Many say that the EPA ruling is a victory for the auto industry and that rulings like this will decrease the levels of trust people have about politicians."
"There is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it."
"Many say that rulings like this one by the EPA provide more evidence of the Vice President's clout."
"I think that the Vice President is a person reflecting a half-glass-full mentality."
"How do you respond to the assertion that this EPA ruling is 'more of the same' from your administration?"
"I think-tide turning-see, as I remember-I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of-it's easy to see a tide turn-did I say those words?"
"Other nations are taking profound steps to improve the environment. Many suggest the EPA ruling will cause the US to fall farther behind other industrial nations in this regard."
"I aim to be a competitive nation."
"Many argue that the EPA ruling is further evidence that you have little idea what is really going on in the world."
"t's a myth to think I don't know what's going on. It's a myth to think that I'm not aware that there's opinions that don't agree with mine, because I'm fully aware of that."
"Many say this ruling provides more evidence that you aren't fully informed on the issues."
"I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves."
"Many have criticized your support of the coal industry. Do you think that criticism is justified?"
"We're spending money on clean coal technology. Do you realize we've got 250 million years of coal? Yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge."
"Won't many view the EPA ruling as just another attempt by your administration to distort the facts regarding global warming."
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
"Critics of your environmental policy suggest that it will cause long term harm to America. Do you have a response to that?"
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."