HIGHTOWER: How "Compassionate Conservatism" Works

George W. Bush -- "Shrub" as he's known in Texas -- is not merely governor of the Lone Star state, but he's also the front-runner to be the Republican nominee for president in 2000.His handlers have coined a campaign slogan meant to make him sound kinder and gentler than other GOP contenders: "Compassionate Conservatism." It's a touching phrase, until you ask the obvious question -- compassionate toward whom? As always, to find out where a politician's true loyalty lies ... follow the money.For starters, look at who paid for Bush's $1.5 million gubernatorial inauguration bash in January. Like an Olympics contest, there were bronze, silver, and gold players in George's inaugural game. To get into the gold required a donation of at least $50,000. That's more money than 80 percent of us Americans make in a whole year, which leaves us on the outside looking in -- "losers" in Bush's insider money politics.So who are the winners? Dow Chemical, AT&T, Dell Computer, Exxon and 60 other big donors who just happen to have big dollar governmental favors they need from the governor of Texas.Of course, they all deny any ulterior motive in putting mega bucks into Bush's inaugural celebration. Take Enron, an energy corporation that wants Bush to deregulate electric power in Texas so it can enter selected markets, skim the cream of profitable clients, leave us regular customers with higher rates, and make billions by selling power to elite corporations. Enron's chief lobbyist said of her company's $50,000 donation: "We clearly never expect to receive anything other than good government as a result of any kind of contribution we make." Oh sure -- as long as "good government" is defined as government giving them the goods.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Sure enough, Compassionate George feels Enron's pain ... and he's pushing its de-reg agenda through the legislature.

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