The Bush Files

A sampling of the day’s best independent news, views, and resources on US politics, keeping an eye on the Bush Administration. Updated each weekday.

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August 4, 2001

Who’s in charge? — USA Today
If and when George W. Bush comes back from his month-long vacation, he’ll tie Richard Nixon’s record for consecutive days away from the White House. Bush aides reassure skeptics that the president is still on the clock: his Crawford ranch is playfully referred to as “the Western White House.” Still, some Republicans worry that the average American — who gets just 13 vacation days a year — will be miffed at Bush’s generous schedule, or that Bush’s absence will reinforce the impression that Dick Cheney is really running the country.

Why the whales are sweating — Oil and Gas Online
The president has appointed two top executives from the International Association of Drilling Contractors to the Commission on Ocean Policy, a group which advises Congress on US policies affecting oceans and coastal areas.

Canada and caribou bet on Senate — CBC
When the House of Representatives — with the votes of 36 Democrats — passed the administration’s energy bill including a provision for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Canadian leaders were watching with apprehension. Canada maintains that drilling in the refuge could threaten caribou herds that migrate in and out of Canada, and are hunted by Canadian First Nations. “Democrats in the Senate still say they can kill this and they’re in control of the Senate, so we aren’t overly concerned,” an official who has lobbied Congress on the issue tells the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Indeed, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., says he will filibuster if necessary to kill the drilling provision.

August 3, 2001

Leaving thousands of kids behind — Houston Chronicle
Before George W. Bush left Texas for the White House, he presided over the state with the worst childhood immunization rate in the nation. In 2000, reports the Chronicle, only 69.5 percent of Texas toddlers had received all the recommended shots against seven diseases — polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella. The national average was 77.6 percent.

Bush finds appreciative audience — Reuters
President George W. Bush says he is looking forward to returning to his ranch outside Crawford, Texas, this weekend and taking a break from the rigors of governing. “I love to go walking out there, seeing the cows,” he says. “Occasionally they talk to me, being the good listener that I am.”

Low marks on parks — National Parks Conservation Association
At the height of the backlash against his administration’s anti-environmental moves, George W. Bush tried to ‘green’ his image by announcing his National Parks Legacy Project at Sequoia National Park. But the National Parks Conservation Association says Bush’s record on parks so far is dismal. In a “report card” on the administration, the NPCA gives the president an overall grade of D, criticizing his positions on funding, air quality, and motorized use (the NPCA says the administration “is negotiating behind closed doors with the snowmobile industry to overturn the ban at Yellowstone.”)

August 2, 2001

Having it both ways on patients’ rights — Molly Ivins
When he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush vetoed the state’s patients’ rights bill, and refused to sign it even after the Texas Legislature passed it again with a veto-proof majority. Now Bush not only likes to claim credit for the Texas law, he’s using the same back-handed approach again, says Molly Ivins: siding with deep-pockets insurance interests against the bill, and probably planning to take credit for the bill if his Congressional opponents succeed in passing it.

Did GE chief push NBC to call race for Bush? — Multichannel News
Rep. Henry Waxman has asked NBC News to turn over in-house videotapes that allegedly show General Electric CEO and Chairman Jack Welch pressuring the news desk to call the presidential race in favor of George W. Bush on election night. NBC News chief Andrew Lack has repeatedly denied that Welch interfered, but Waxman says the videotape of “decision-desk action” on the night of the election would “either prove or debunk the allegation.”

August 1, 2001

Soft money and the Bush energy plan —
As the House continues to mull the omnibus energy bill, there’s more than altruistic concern for America’s energy future on the minds of politicians. Just how much the energy industry invested in the Bush/Cheney campaign has been well documented, but the industry has generously lined the pockets of legislators, too. The Center for Responsive Politics provides an updated look at energy-related giving — and taking — on Capitol Hill.

Arctic drilling not so clean — US News
While the Bush administration continues to tout the oil industry’s record in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay as evidence that drilling in the Arctic is safe, Alaska officials are finding otherwise. British Petroleum — the largest oil driller in the state — is already on probation for violating pollution laws in the 1990s. Now the state is investigating charges that the company’s Prudhoe Bay operations are so slapdash that “a major catastrophe is imminent.” BP employees have told investigators that the company failed to check pipeline emergency valves, which are designed to cut the flow of volatile oil and gas in case of a rupture, and that fire alarms were unreliable. They said corroded pipes were contributing to spills such as a 10-barrel leak last month.

The rigged missile test —
Words haven’t been quite enough to sell America’s allies on the idea of a national missile defense, so the Bush administration has been touting its “success” in last month’s $100-million missile test. But what the Defense Department failed to mention, says Joe Conason, was that the experiment was rigged. The dummy missile was equipped with a global positioning beacon that guided the “kill vehicle” toward it.

July 31, 2001

FoWs give more, get more — Christian Science Monitor
Dubya isn’t the first president to reward his faithful friends and supporters with ambassadorships, seats on commissions, or positions on the White House staff. But he is spreading the love farther and deeper into federal government than any predecessor — installing big-dollar donors in federal judgeships and top agency positions. The trend, says the Christian Science Monitor, “is raising questions about some nominees’ fitness for their jobs.” A new study reveals that the average donation given to the Bush campaign by each of the 300-plus cabinet and sub-cabinet nominees to date was about $8,300, or roughly double the average of President Clinton’s appointees.

Carter has “respect” for Bush — Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
The media (including Bush Files) pounced last week when former President Jimmy Carter went on the record saying he was “disappointed in almost everything” George W. Bush had done since taking office. Apparently, Carter felt the need to qualify his comments, and late last week his office issued this statement: “My disagreement [with Bush]… represents honest differences of opinion that are to be expected concerning controversial decisions now being made in a new administration… I have the greatest personal respect for President George W. Bush.”


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