The Madness of King George | The Interior Department’s Coal-Black Hearts

Taking Pills?—A new book we just discovered: Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, by Dr. Justin Frank, a psychiatrist—and a Democrat—who heads the psychiatry department at the George Washington University Medical Center, finds President Bush to be a man who “consistently exhibits an array of multiple, serious and untreated symptoms.” The good doctor’s prescription? “Our sole treatment option—for his benefit and ours—is to remove President Bush from office . . . before it is too late.”

The book got minimal media attention, and when asked about it the White House press spokesman, Scott McClellan, said, “I don’t do book reviews.”

The Washington Post did report, in passing, that Dr. Frank’s book says Bush “exhibits sadistic tendencies and suffers from character pathology, including grandiosity and megalomania—viewing himself, America and God as interchangeable.” The New York Times barely mentionedOn the Couch, burying it briefly in a “Health and Fitness” column on a little-read page of the C section.

We have seen no regular news media follow-ups to confirm or deny it, but there have also been repeated claims on the Washington website Capitol Hill Blue that President Bush has been taking anti-depressant medication that confuses and disturbs him—and rattles his staff. The website says the White House did not return its calls seeking comment.

In London the Guardian cited the Capitol Hill Blue report that Bush “goes in one breath from quoting the Bible to ranting obscenely about the media” as having “the ring of truth.”

They may have based that not only on the distinguished psychiatrist’s book and the Capitol Hill Blue reports, but also on some of the president’s recent campaign statements. Here’s one:

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” Got it?

Corporate Government—We were right-on, in the March 15, 2002, issue of the Washington Spectator, when we renamed the Interior Department “the Inferior Department.” The agency’s top regulatory jobs have been filled during the Bush administration by corporate lobbyists who ease or block environmental and safety rules.

That report on the decline of the Interior Department was an example of the decision of our founding editor, Tristram Coffin, to have the Washington Spectator do “untold stories,” neglected elsewhere. Until last month the saga of industry executives who have become bureaucratic controllers of the industries they work for—still work for—was mostly off the mainstream news scope. But then the New York Times came crashing through with a page one story on August 9, continued in five full-page columns inside. The headline was: “Friends in the White House Come to Coal’s Aid.”

Its target was the favoritism to the coal mining industry extended by Bush appointees at both Interior and the Labor Department, both of which are supposed to control (1) the damaging environmental impact of the coal industry’s strip mining and mountaintop removal in Appalachia, and (2) the protection of underground mine workers, particularly by limiting the coal dust that kills thousands of them with “black lung disease.”

As we have reported from time to time, the most visible atrocity of the coal industry in Appalachia is mountaintop removal—the use of giant cranes and earth-movers to shove off tons of rubble, the entire tops of mountains holding seams of coal, and dump them into timbered, stream filled—and people filled—valleys below.

It turns out that the second in command at the Interior Department, Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, was—well, still is—a lobbyist for mining interests.

The Times also found that David Lauriski, a former top executive of a coal mining company, who is now the Bush-appointed head of the Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, ardently goes along with the coal industry’s resistance to any costly coal-dust limits in underground mines. The Times says that black-lung disease “kills hundreds of miners every year.”

The watchdog Center for Responsive Politics has found that in the last six years coal companies and their executives have given $9 million to political candidates and party committees—90 percent of it to Republicans.