Paying for Bush's Campaigning

I wonder -- is there anything that White House political operative Karl Rove won't try to turn into a political ad?

I'm not even counting the big P.T. Barnum stunts, like posing George in a Top-Gun costume on that aircraft carrier last year, or secretly flying Bush all the way to Iraq last Thanksgiving so he could be photographed holding a turkey.

For these guys, everything is a prop paid for by us taxpayers. Take the federal budget, which usually is crammed with statistics and charts detailing the seriousness of the government's business. But this year, for the first time ever, the document includes 27 glossy photos of our boy George in various heroic poses -- here he is in front of a giant American flag, here he is talking with an old woman in a wheelchair, here he is helping a child learn to read. One expects to find a centerfold pop-up of Bush hugging a puppy.

Speaking of popping up, His Georgeness popped up at the famous Daytona 500 NASCAR race, posturing before 180,000 racing fans and a huge TV audience. If he wants to make a campaign appearance there, fine. But Rove put him in Air Force One, costing us taxpayers about $57,000 an hour for the flight, and they used the plane itself as a prop, dramatically swooping over the racetrack as he departed -- a priceless publicity shot dutifully covered by NBC, which broke away from coverage of the race itself to show the prez soaring up and away.

Bush even uses taxpayer funds for literally making TV ads. His new Medicare prescription drug law, which actually will deliver more to the profiteering drug companies than to senior citizens, has been turned into a glowing 30-second TV ad by the White House. The ad, which softly (and falsely) says, "Same Medicare, More Benefits," cost us taxpayers $9.5 million to air, but it is so grossly political that CBS stopped running it.

For the Bushites, all the world is a stage, and we're merely the people who have to pay for their show.

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