Bush Talks Loudly, Carries Small Stick

Wow, Little George really told off the Enroners and WorldComers, didn't he? He went up to Wall Street, got all scowly-faced ... and scolded those bad boys!

"The business pages of American newspapers," he declared, "should not read like a scandal sheet." But he didn't just talk, by gollies, he whapped 'em! To yank this rampaging, corrupt corporate system back into line, he says he's going to appoint a "Corporate Fraud Task Force." Wow, that'll show 'em!

I didn't know whether to laugh, scream, or go bowling. This is political posturing at its most embarrassing. Why does he think the honchos of Enron, WorldCom, and all the rest have felt free to be such grasping greedheads? Because for more than 20 years, Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and now the second Bush have enthusiastically pushed to dismantle all protections that stockholders, workers, retirees, and taxpayers need against the corporate wrongdoing George now so loudly decries.

Where was his ethical outrage in 1990, when he personally engaged in this very same kind of self-serving hanky panky as an insider at Harken Energy Inc.? Where was his disgust with the Ken Lays in 2000 when Bush was pocketing more corporate campaign donations than any candidate in history? Where was his zeal to "root out corruption" last year, when he tried to eliminate 57 regulatory positions at the SEC and appointed an industry lapdog to head this corporate-oversight agency?

George talked big, but his proposals for action are a joke. He says he's doubling the jail term for corporate crime from five to ten years -- but none of these crooks ever get five years, so this is meaningless. And even his little task force is being buried deep inside the justice department, where it'll be toothless.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... George's speech was ballyhooed by his handlers as a Teddy Roosevelt moment for him -- but as one senator noted, it was more of a "teddy bear" moment.

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