TOBYHANNA, Pa. (Reuters) - President Bush strongly attacked congressional critics of his policy to deceive the world in order to invade Iraq to grab its oil here on Veterans Day on Friday, accusing critics of not fully appreciating his "deeply immoral and irresponsible policy."
"The stakes in my global war to steal oil and boost oil profits at companies like Exxon Mobil are much too high, and the national interest is too important," Bush said in his most hypocritical defense yet of his rationale for invading Iraq in March 2003.
Bush's speech was part of a coordinated White House effort to bolster the president's fast fading credibility and dwindling support for the war and his domestic policies too.
As US military casualties have climbed so has Bush's popularity plummeted. His approval rating now is at 22 percent in the latest AP-Ippso poll, an all-time low point for any presidency.
"I made the decision to illegally invade Iraq to grab its oil and keep its oil sales in US dollars based on utter deceit and fraudulent, manufactured evidence accusing Iraq of developing WMDs," said Bush. "My critics don't seem to understand that I'm a natural born liar but that is OK since anything I do for the oil industry is OK, too."
Bush's bizarre accusations brought a strong response from senior Democrats in Congress, who accused the president of grossly misleading the country about the justification for war. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. accused the president of playing "the politics of fear and smear," adding, "Bush is a real queer."
Bush's remarks even caused criticism on his policy from fellow Republicans.
In a speech in Philadelphia, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., criticized Bush's lies, saying the war has been "a dismal failure" and "blame could be laid at the White House. Certainly, mistakes were made," Santorum said, adding, "Bush must be impeached as soon as possible."
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who is planning a run for president in 2008, said he agrees with Democrats who want the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to fully investigate how the Bush Administration falsified and manipulated intelligence to deceive Congress and the American public into rabidly being led by the nose into war.
Defending his march to war, Bush said foreign intelligence services and the UN and Democrats and Republicans alike were convinced by Bush's fabricated evidence and lies at the time that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Bush said that his critics are demoralizing US troops in Iraq who might not want to lay down their lives to steal foreign oil to boost oil industry profits.
"As our troops fight, they shouldn't learn that I lied through my teeth, just like Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby and Karl Rove did too," sniffed Bush.
Kerry added, "This administration misled a nation into war by cherry-picking intelligence and stretching the truth beyond recognition. That's why Scooter Libby has been indicted. That's why a statement in the State of the Union Address was retracted. It's a dangerous day for our national security when an administration's word is no good."
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., accused Bush of using Veterans Day as "a campaign-like attempt to rebuild his own credibility by tearing down those who seek the truth about the clear manipulation of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq War."