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Government Waste Leaves Journalists Unemployed

When I read the news a few days ago that the Bush Administration has lost 8.8 billion dollars, it was hard for me to understand. On one level, it’s hard to fathom how the Bush Administration, which claims to be so focused on preventing leaks, could send 8.8 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to Iraq and then simply lose track of it all with no idea where it went to. On another level, 8.8 billion dollars is a hard number to understand – it’s so big that my mind has an awful lot of trouble picturing it.

Then I thought back to Friday, when I learned that yet another conservative “independent” columnist, Michael McManus, has been caught taking money from the Bush Administration in return for promoting partisan Republican policies. In the case of McManus, the sellout price for the sacrifice of his journalistic ethics was a measly ten thousand dollars.

Well, hey, I thought: I can picture ten thousand dollars. What if I try to understand the 8.8 billion dollars of taxpayer money Bush lost in Iraq in terms of the money Bush has paid out to newspaper columnists to purchase their support before the elections in 2002 and 2004?

Here’s what I found out. So far, we have news of three media personalities who were bribed by the Bush Administration to push Republican policies on TV and in newspapers across America. If you average out the amounts paid to Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Michael McManus, you get a basic journalist purchase price of 114,000 dollars.

So, if we divide the 8.8 billion dollars that Bush lost track of in Iraq by the 114,000 dollar average that the Bush Administration pays to newspaper columnists in order to buy favorable coverage before an election, the resulting number will tell us how many more journalists the Bush Administration could have bribed to push Republican policies – if that 8.8 billion dollars had not been lost.

Even I, who can get pretty jaded, was surprised by the result. It turns out that if George W. Bush had not lost track of that 8.8 billion dollars in Iraq, he could have used that money to buy off 77,192 American journalists. Why, I think that’s every single journalist in the country! I mean, with all 50 states, that would be 1,543 journalists in every state. I don’t think there are that many reporters, columnists and editors in America. So, basically, if Bush hadn’t gone and lost that 8.8 billion dollars in Iraq, he could have bought out the entire American press corps and had lots of money left over!

Hey – wait a minute. Have you turned on your TV or read a newspaper recently?

Maybe that money in Iraq wasn’t really lost. Maybe…

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