The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 296
June 25, 2007
Consummate Cretins Edition
Last week was a classic week for conservative idiocy - Dick Cheney (1) tops the chart with a rather tortured interpretation of the law, meanwhile presidential candiates Rudy Giuliani (2,3) and Mitt Romney (4) are embarrassed by some of their closest associates. Elsewhere, conservative talkers Michael Graham (5) and Tom Bauerle (6) advocate presidential assassination and arson respectively - and Trent Lott (7) is back on the list! Enjoy, and don't forget the key...
Dick Cheney sure loves to claim executive privilege. Remember this?
In the face of political pressure to comply with congressional investigators, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday he will not release internal documents connected to the development of President Bush's energy plan.
That refusal is expected to fuel political outcries that the administration is hiding information about its relationship with Enron Corp., and may prompt the General Accounting Office -- Congress' nonpartisan investigative arm -- to file a rare lawsuit against the White House.
Cheney, who was asked on Sunday-morning news programs to defend his position, said White House attorneys looked into the matter and concluded that documents gathered by the task force he headed are protected by the rules of executive privilege. -- Houston Chronicle, 2002
Because Libby and Cheney were so involved in US policy, ''you'll see a lot come out" about the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, Fortier said, creating more headaches for an administration defending an increasingly unpopular war.
The Bush White House is ''particularly jealous" about keeping administration documents and decision-making from public view, Fortier said. He predicted that Cheney, who fought and won the right to keep the work of the energy task force secret, may well try to exert executive privilege if he is called to testify. -- Boston Globe, 2005
A new executive privilege battle is looming in Washington as a federal appeals court considers whether to intervene in an election-eve dispute over records of visitors to Vice President Cheney's home at the Naval Observatory, as well as his offices in the White House complex.
"Disclosure of the records at issue could reveal an ever-expanding mosaic that would allow observers to chart the course of vice presidential contacts and deliberations in unprecedented fashion," government attorneys argued in a brief filed yesterday. "Such an unwarranted intrusion into the most sensitive deliberations of the vice presidency cannot be countenanced." -- New York Sun, 2006
Well hold onto your hats and let the spin begin! It turns out that for the last four years, despite repeatedly claiming executive privilege to avoid having to do such annoying things as testify before Congress, Dick Cheney has been preventing the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office from performing a mandatory inspection of his office by claiming - get this - that he's not part of the Executive Branch. According to the Los Angeles Times:
For the last four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has made the controversial claim that his office is not fully part of the Bush administration in order to exempt it from a presidential order regulating federal agencies' handling of classified national security information, officials said Thursday.
Cheney has held that his office is not fully part of the executive branch of government despite the continued objections of the National Archives, which says his office's failure to demonstrate that it has proper security safeguards in place could jeopardize the government's top secrets.
How convenient! The vice president is a member of the Executive Branch when he needs to claim executive privilege, but not a member of the Executive Branch when that would mean having to open his records to the National Archives.
You know, this kinda reminds me of the time in 2003 that Cheney said of Halliburton, "I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years," and then it turned out that just two years later his Halliburton stock options rose by 3,281%.
Talk about having your cake and eating it. (Or in Cheney's case, having your blood and drinking it.)
Hey, did you know that Rudy Giuliani is a big fan of defending America? It's true! And if you doubt his integrity, then you must have forgotten the lessons of September 11th. Why do you love Osama bin Laden?
Yes, Rudy sure is keen to let everyone know that he was right there on the day terrorists attacked his city, boldly leading New York's brave first responders who had to fight both fires and the Giuliani administration's woefully underfunded and ill-managed emergency response infrastructure. Er, I mean, just fires.
But here's a fact I bet you didn't know, at least before last week - it turns out that Rudy Giuliani used to be a member of the Iraq Study Group. You may be forgiven for not knowing about this because he wasn't a very high-profile member - in fact, he didn't actually turn up for a single meeting. You see, just like Dick Cheney during Vietnam, Rudy had other priorities. According to Newsday:
Rudolph Giuliani's membership on an elite Iraq study panel came to an abrupt end last spring after he failed to show up for a single official meeting of the group, causing the panel's top Republican to give him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit, several sources said.
Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group last May after just two months, walking away from a chance to make up for his lack of foreign policy credentials on the top issue in the 2008 race, the Iraq war.
He cited "previous time commitments" in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why -- the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani's lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months.
Giuliani failed to show up for a pair of two-day sessions that occurred during his tenure, the sources said -- and both times, they conflicted with paid public appearances shown on his recent financial disclosure. Giuliani quit the group during his busiest stretch in 2006, when he gave 20 speeches in a single month that brought in $1.7 million.
That's right - he was so busy raking in huge piles of cash by bragging about his national security credentials that he didn't have time to go out and actually get any national security credentials. Whoops!
And there was yet another blow to the Giuliani campaign last week - it turns out that his state campaign chairman for South Carolina was recently indicted for, er, dealing cocaine. From USA Today:
The news that South Carolina state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel was indicted yesterday on a charge of engaging in a conspiracy to purchase cocaine for himself and others has rippled beyond his fellow Republicans in the state because of South Carolina's key position as home to one of the earliest contests in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
Ravenel, 44, was chairman of Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's campaign in South Carolina (a position he now left; he also was suspended from his job as treasurer), and his indictment led to headlines such as these:
• "Giuliani's top man in S.C. hit with Coke Rap." New York Post.
• "One Giuliani backer is a bust." The Washington Post.
• "Ex-Rudy aide faces coke rap." Daily News.
You almost have to feel sorry for Rudy. First his good buddy Bernie Kerik didn't get the job of Secretary of Homeland Security because a) he hired an illegal immigrant nanny, b) he was banging his mistresses in an apartment overlooking Ground Zero, and c) he was connected to organized crime; then it turns out that his other good buddy Monsignor Alan Placa is an accused child molester; and now his SC state campaign chairman has been indicted for dealing cocaine.
And you thought George W. Bush was a bad judge of character...
Apparently Mitt Romney has decided that anything Rudy Giuliani can do, he can do better. And while he's going to have to go some to beat a coke-dealing state campaign chairman, he's given it a good shot with news breaking last week that one of his closest aides will be taking a "leave of absence ... after he became the subject of investigations in two states for allegedly impersonating a law enforcement officer," according to the Associated Press.
Jay Garrity, who serves as director of operations and is constantly at the side of the former Massachusetts governor, is accused of leaving a lengthy message with the answering service of a plumbing company on Mother's Day, identifying himself as "Trooper Garrity" of the Massachusetts State Police and complaining about erratic driving by a company driver.
The district attorney in Boston is investigating the call, which was tape recorded by an after-hours operator. Impersonating an officer is a misdemeanor charge carrying a fine of up to $400 and one year imprisonment.
In 2004, Garrity was cited and fined by Massachusetts officials after a Ford Crown Victoria registered to him was found to have lights, a siren, radios and other law enforcement equipment -- including a baton -- after it was parked illegally in Boston's North End. At the time, Garrity was paid $75,000 annually as Romney's gubernatorial chief of operations.
You really can't make this stuff up.
Last week Celine Dion's "You and I" won Hillary Clinton's campaign song contest, and to announce the winner both Hillary and Bill starred in a vaguely risible video parody of the final episode of The Sopranos. Unfortunately it appears that at least one lunatic-fringe wingnut wants to take the joke a bit too far. Appearing on Glenn Beck's CNN Headline News show, talk radio host Michael Graham made comments that were so out there even Beck managed to show a modicum of restraint:
GRAHAM: I'm thinking about Hillary Clinton sitting there as the Carmela, you know, with this thing - you know --
BECK: Oh, and it's so true.
GRAHAM: -- with her large, overweight, powerful husband, and she's using his power to get what she wants. At some point, I -- but, seriously, Glenn, didn't you at some point want to see, like, Paulie Walnuts (fictional character on The Sopranos), somebody come in here and just whack them both right there? Wouldn't that have been great?
BECK: No, I did not want to see that.
GRAHAM: Come on! Where's "Big Pussy" (Sopranos fictional character)? Come on! Let's make it happen.
BECK: No, I did not want to see that.
GRAHAM: I wanted that.
Mmm. But why bother fantasizing about hiring a hitman when you can fantasize about doing the deed yourself? Here's Graham on MSNBC back in 2003:
GRAHAM: Anyone listening to Hillary Rodham in her speech last week about patriotism, that screaming, screeching fingernail, I wanted to bludgeon her with a tire iron. That's what I wanted to do.
Apparently Mr. Graham later attempted to cover his ass by insisting that the comments were a joke. So let's see. Michael Graham wants to see the Clintons assassinated, and wants to bludgeon Hillary Clinton with a tire iron. Oh, but wait, it's supposed to be a joke. Oh, I get it. A-ha-ha.
Michael Graham wasn't the only wingnut radio host to get into trouble last week - WBEN's Tom Bauerle drew the wrath of Buffalo-area firefighters when he decided to advocate arson. According to ABC7:
It is these comments, when Tom Bauerle responded to a caller complaining about abandoned and neglected homes in Depew, that upset Buffalo Firefighters.
"Do you have any fresh gasoline and some matches by any chance," said Bauerle on June 7th.
And Bauerle went on to say,
"Let's put it this way. It should never be a surprise when a property like that that is bringing the rest of the neighborhood down goes up in flames some morning at 3 a-m," Bauerle added.
Buffalo Firefighters, dealing with numerous arson fires, one where Mark Reed was critically injured, are angry.
"All firefighters, paid and volunteer, have to risk their life to fight these fires, and for Bauerle to suggest we take a gallon of gas and matches and burn them down is reprehensible, and for the station to allow him to continue doing this is reprehensible," said Fire Union President Joe Foley.
Fire commissioner Mike Lombardo was also offended.
"I listened to them today for the first time and I thought it was disgusting," said Lombardo.
Foley called for Bauerle to get out of town. Lombardo hoping he is off the air.
Fat chance of that. WBEN issued a statement in response to the, er, firestorm, which read in part, "The comments in question made by Tom Bauerle are being used out of context."
Oh, aren't they always?
(Incidentally, Bill O'Reilly was also apparently heard dreaming of arson last week - DUer dancingme reports that he heard O'Reilly telling Michael Smerconish that he'd love to "go in there and burn down" Media Matters. What's up with these conservatives and their firebug fantasies?)
Last week our old friend the Mississippi Hair Helmet, a.k.a. Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, appeared to come up with a novel solution to the problem of illegal immigration:
"If the answer is 'build a fence' I've got two goats on my place in Mississippi. There ain't no fence big enough, high enough, strong enough, that you can keep those goats in that fence."
"Now people are at least as smart as goats," Lott continued. "Maybe not as agile. Build a fence. We should have a virtual fence. Now one of the ways I keep those goats in the fence is I electrified them. Once they got popped a couple of times they quit trying to jump it."
But wait! There's more:
"I'm not proposing an electrified goat fence," Lott added quickly, "I'm just trying, there's an analogy there."
See, he's not comparing Mexicans to goats or suggesting that they should be electrocuted, it's an analogy. Get it? You know, this reminds me of the time at Storm Thurmond's 100th birthday when Trent noted that if Thurmond's segregationist presidential campaign had achieved victory in 1948, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years." That was an analogy for... er, something.
Anyway there's nothing to worry about, because despite what you may think of him, Trent is at peace with himself. He continued:
"I don't worry about offending anybody anymore," said Lott, "because I've already offended everybody."
Ah, the culmination of a life-long dream. Congrats.
Chris Matthews grabs his second slot on the list in two weeks after an unfortunate incident on MSNBC's "Super Tuesday" last week. Matthews apparently didn't realize that he was on the air when the commercials ended, and could clearly be heard berating someone in a manner that the FCC must surely disapprove of. Crooks and Liars has the video, here's the transcript:
Commercials end, cue Chris Matthews
MATTHEWS: ... we're all reacting here and putting on shit, we have nothing going ...
Matthews realizes he is on the air and stares disgustedly into the camera
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball.
Come on Chris, putting on shit? That's not fair. Just do another awesome segment on your burning sexual attraction to Fred Thompson's manly stench.
Iowans for Tax Relief And The Iowa Christian Alliance
Here's an odd bit of news from the Republican presidential campaign - Rep. Ron Paul has apparently been barred from appearing at an upcoming presidential debate co-sponsored by Iowans for Tax Relief. Why? Nobody knows. Paul's campaign chairman said, "To our shock, Mr. Failor told us Dr. Paul was not invited; he was not going to be invited; and he would not be allowed to participate. And when asked why, Mr. Failor refused to explain. The call ended."
Now, I'm no fan of Ron Paul - aside from his stance on Iraq, the guy is WAY out there. But you'd think that Iowans for Tax Relief would welcome him to their debate given that, as far as I know, Paul is the only candidate who is currently trying to abolish income taxes altogether.
But apparently that's not good enough to get his foot in the door, so it must have something to do with the other co-sponsor of the debate, a group called the Iowa Christian Alliance. My guess is that Ron Paul is simply not pro-war enough for their sensibilities. After all, WWJD? (What Would Jesus Devastate?)
But Paul isn't the only candidate barred from the debate. According to the Muscatine Journal:
Failor told WHO newsradio in Des Moines on Wednesday that several other candidates were not invited to the forum, and decisions on who could attend were made months ago by drawing a "line of credibility."
A "line of credibility," eh? Let's see who's invited and who isn't:
ABOVE THE LINE OF CREDIBILITY
BELOW THE LINE OF CREDIBILITY
I guess it kinda makes sense. Despite Ron Paul's all-consuming opposition to taxes they don't want him embarrassing them with a bunch of anti-war rhetoric; nobody knows who Jim Gilmore is; and Rudy Giuliani's a thrice married cross-dressing pro-gay pro-abortion New Yorker.
But you have to feel a bit sorry for John McCain after all that time he spent pandering to Jerry Falwell.
George W. Bush
And finally, George W. Bush is surging! Just take a look at this graph of his approval ratings:
Wait, I'm sorry, those are his disapproval ratings. Here are his approval ratings:
Hmm, not quite so hot. It kinda reminds me of the gentle arc of a child's tennis ball, bouncing slowly across a playground before finally coming to rest in a pile of dog poo.
In fact, last week marked a new low for Our Great Leader as Newsweek charted his approval rating at a mere 26 percent. But it could be worse: a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that only 19 percent of Americans think that the country is heading in the right direction. (This means that 6 percent of people think the country is heading in the wrong direction but also think George W. Bush is doing a heck of a job. Er, hello?)
How low can he go? Well, Our Great Leader has already plummeted past Jimmy Carter, who had a 28% approval rating at the height of the 1979 oil crisis, and is rapidly closing in on Richard Nixon's record 23% which Nixon achieved seven months before he was forced to resign in disgrace.
So come on, George - just a few more percentage points to go and then you can officially hold the title of worst president ever. And I think I can safely speak for three quarters of the country when I say that the words "resign in disgrace" never sounded so sweet.
See you next week!
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