From Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose, authors of Shrub, Bushwhacked is a hilarious, no-holds-barred look at George W. Bush and his administration, and an essential book for understanding the full, destructive impact of his presidency.For years, bestselling political commentator Molly Ivins has been sounding the alarm about George W. Bush. In Shrub, her 2000 skewering of presidential candidate Bush, the inimitable Ivins, with co-author Lou Dubose, offered a devastating exposé of Dubya's career and abysmal record as governor of Texas. Now, in their second book on our current White House occupant, Ivins and Dubose take the wire brush to the Bush presidency and show how he has applied the same flawed strategies he used in governing Texas to running the largest superpower in the world.
Ivins's mordant wit, political passion and uninhibited energy are unique among political writers and translate into entertaining reading for anti-Bushites. Together with co-author Dubose, Ivins (Shrub) offers a ferocious attack on "Dubya," arguing that he has taken the country in a direction he conveniently failed to mention during the 2000 campaign. That direction, according to Ivins, endangers workers, the poor and disadvantaged, the middle class and, for good measure, the Bill of Rights. Her message is that Bush's education, economic, tax and environmental policies, his energy policy, his response to the Enron scandal all have one thing in common: "setting the fox to guard the chicken coop." The "fox" in this case is business interests; the chickens are the EPA, the SEC, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission and other agencies whose purpose is to protect citizens from capitalism's excesses. Simply put, Bush, according to Ivins, has abandoned the interests of American citizens for the interests of corporate America. Two things distinguish this from the rest of the burgeoning anti-Bush literature: Ivins's substantive arguments and her language and humor, which are refreshingly inventive. Members of the Texas Supreme Court, dominated by then-Governor Bush appointees, are "nine justices beloved for their canine fidelity to corporations." Bush's Middle East policy, which Ivins says is driven by the evangelical right's eschatology, "has produced alliances as peculiar as the Michael Jackson-Lisa Marie Presley union." Nonetheless, readers shouldn't be misled: Ivins and Dubose do not believe Bush is funny; they are outraged by what they identify as his excesses. They want readers to be outraged, too-and many will be. (On sale Sept. 23) Forecast: This should sail onto bestseller lists, aided by an eight-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 01, 2004
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Excerpt from Bushwhacked by Lou Dubose
There he was. On the Tuesday after a long Fourth of July weekend. In the ballroom of an ornate Wall Street hotel that once housed the New York Merchants Exchange. Standing in front of a blue-and-white backdrop with the words CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY printed over and over on it, in case you should miss the point. Promising us "a new ethic" for American business. Our president, Scourge of Corporate Misbehavior.
It was like watching a whore pretend to be dean of Southern Methodist University's School of Theology. But as Luther said, hypocrisy has ample wages.
"Harken," said the Bush camp over and over, "was nothing like Enron." Interestingly enough, it was exactly like Enron in each and every feature of corporate misbehavior, except a lot smaller. A perfect miniature Enron.
By the summer of 2002, it had long been known that twelve years earlier Bush made a pile by selling his stock in Harken Energy Corporation just before it tanked. At the time, he was serving both on Harken's board and on a special audit committee looking at the company's financial health. As he spoke on Wall Street, stories were surfacing about Harken's sham sale of a subsidiary to a group of company insiders. The acquisition was financed by an $11 million loan guaranteed by the seller, Harken Energy. In other words, a fake asset swap to punch up Harken's annual profit-and-loss statement.
The "sale" of Aloha Petroleum, from Harken to Harken, was again Enron writ small and so outrageous that the SEC stepped in, declared the accounting unacceptable, and forced the company to restate its earnings. Bush unquestionably knew about the deal.
Even if he had convinced the public that earlier stories about his $848,560 insider trade, his failure to report it to the SEC, his low-interest loans from Harken to buy company stock (a practice he particularly denounced in his Wall Street speech, as though he had never heard of such an unseemly scam before), and the Enron-esque sale of Aloha Petroleum were all what he described as "recycled stuff," he was still surrounded by bad stories about to break. Enron was ripe for federal prosecution; Bush and Enron's CEO, Ken Lay, his single largest campaign contributor, had been tight for years. Halliburton was being investigated by the feds for fraudulent accounting practices put in place when Dick Cheney was CEO. Congress was investigating the secretary of the Army for his role in the collapse of Enron, in the fleecing of electricity customers in California, and for his failure to divest himself of Enron stock in a timely manner.
SEC chief Harvey Pitt had so many previous business connections with the firms he was now regulating, he had already had to recuse himself in twenty-nine cases being pursued by the SEC. Bush's hard-nosed, hard-assed political adviser, Karl Rove, had owned $108,000 in Enron stock and, more important, knew the Enron CEO because he was Bush's biggest funder. Two of Bush's economic advisers had worked as consultants for Enron. And the newly disgraced Ken Lay had convinced Bush to dump the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Curtis Hebert, and to replace him with the candidate of Lay's choice, a Port Arthur, Texas, homeboy. Before giving Bush the word to dump Hebert, Lay had a come-to-Jesus session with Hebert himself, telling him to embrace free markets and deregulation or, Lay said, things would end badly for Hebert. They did.