Buying the President | Bush in Space | Paul O’Neill’s View | Documents That Shaped America

Bankrolling Bush—With the Bush family’s manipulations in the business world, it’s no surprise that the president’s top campaign finance patron over the course of his political career has been the crooked and bankrupt Enron Corporation. Enron provided George W. Bush with gifts totaling $602,626 to help finance his runs for Congress, governor and president.

That’s the finding of the Center for Public Integrity, the Washington watchdog group. In the course of scouring computerized government and corporate data for information, it discovered that brokerages, banks and credit-card companies have been six of Bush’s top ten campaign contributors over the years. As the champion of cuts in dividend and capital gains taxes, Wall Street likes him.

On the Bush contributor list, with gifts ranging from $342,949 to $505,500 are: Merrill Lynch & Co.; Crédit Suisse First Boston; Bass Brothers Enterprises; the International Bank of Commerce; UBS Financial Services; and the Goldman Sachs Group.

These details are in the Center’s new book, The Buying of the President 2004, now in bookstores and available at Amazon.com. Some of it is viewable at the Center’s website: www.publicintegrity.org.

¡Viva Bush!In hope of attracting the attention of the millions of America’s Hispanics, who he hopes will vote for him this fall, and to please the usurious, low-wage-paying employers of immigrants who hire them on the cheap, President Bush is pushing a complicated “temporary” guest worker program that may sound good to some but is headed for a strong clash of views in Congress.

Fly Him to the Moon—And Mars. The president’s election-year vision of an American settlement on the Moon—you know, a Republican suburb—and then the manned exploration of Mars, inspired the Washington Post editorial-page cartoonist Tom Toles to start drawing. He sketched Bush shedding last year’s “Mission Accomplished” flight suit for an astronaut’s space suit. The sign next to him this time says: “Mission Impoverished.”

While the Bush government’s infamous tax cuts are already heading us for a historic, decades-long budget shortfall of trillions of dollars, Bush says he’s launching these multimillion-dollar escapades in space with a starting fee of a 5 percent increase in the $15.5 billion budget of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). That follows the president’s plan for $1.7 trillion in tax cuts. The Mars landing is being described by some as “putting red ink on the red planet.”

But never mind all that. There are already messages from outer space. The Rev. Pat Robertson, the right-wing star of his own television company, the Christian Broadcasting Network, says God has told him that Bush will be re-elected in a “blowout” because “the Lord has just blessed him [and] it doesn’t make any difference what he does, good or bad.”

But Does He Think?—Not much according to former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill, a member of the president’s National Security Council until Bush fired him in 2002 for criticizing his tax cuts and steel tariffs. O’Neill describes the president at top level, policy-shaping Cabinet meetings as “like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people” in which there was “no discernible connection.”

That and a lot of other judgments appear in a chronicle of O’Neill’s White House meetings during the first two years of the Bush administration, part of in a new book, The Price of Loyalty, by Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter at the Wall Street Journal.

Suskind not only interviewed O’Neill; but was given thousand of pages of official documents that O’Neill took with him when he was dismissed. Because he took the documents, the White House is considering starting a criminal investigation of the former secretary, which spurred O’Neill to ask, “Why would I be attacked for telling the truth?”

Did Ashcroft Vote?—Seems that he didn’t. Nearly 40,000 people listed their choices for “the documents that shaped America” in a survey run by the National Archives, but none of them voted for the Attorney General’s USA Patriot Act. The Declaration of Independence won with votes from 76 percent of the participants, followed by the U.S. Constitution with votes from 69 percent, and the Bill of Rights, chosen by 68 percent.

A new book, Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents from the National Archives, has been published by Oxford University Press.