HIGHTOWER: Lobbyists Ride with Bush and Gore

The Washington merry-go-round keeps going 'round and 'round, and if you've got the money, you, too, can get a ticket to ride!

Anyone who doubts that Washington is a money town need only glance at the who's who of influence peddlers surrounding both George W. Bush and Al Gore. No matter which one of these lugs wins, Washington lobbyists will have their tickets punched for another four year ride on the merry-go-round.

The presence of hired guns is particularly striking in the Bush campaign, especially since he has been trying to convince the public that he's an "outsider." Of course, Little George wouldn't even be running for president if he wasn't the son of Big George, the ultimate Washington insider, and if he wasn't stuffed with millions of dollars from the economic and political elites who own the merry-go-round.

But now any pretense of being an outsider has been abandoned as Bush has brought a half-dozen hot-shot Washington lobbyists into his inner circle to guide his campaign. Associated Press reports that these top advisors are lobbyists for Philip Morris, Microsoft, Time-Warner, AOL, Bristol Myers-Squibb, and other corporate giants that have favors they need from the next president, and they're not only helping shape Bush's policies now, but they're also putting themselves on the inside track to help their clients if Bush gets into the White House.

And if George W. doesn't make it, corporate interests have lobbyists in the inner circle of Al Gore's campaign, too. AP reports that Gore's top advisors include hired guns for the likes of Boeing, GM, MetLife, Lockheed Martin, Schering-Plough, and Bell Atlantic. Of course, the lobbyists behind Gore and Bush also see to it that their clients funnel big campaign contributions into both camps, further greasing the skids for their corporate agenda.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... If you wonder why both the Republican and Democratic candidates take such a straight-line corporate view on policies ... look at who's riding into the White House with them.

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