It's become quite clear in the last few years that George W. Bush has the worst environmental record of any president for a generation - maybe even worse than the record of Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, it's an open question whether Americans really care about Bush's assault on the environment.
The trouble with environmental issues is that they're often too abstract for many people to feel deeply concerned about. Take global warming, for instance: Many Americans still think of global warming as something that will happen in the future, as if we have lots of time to calmly consider 20-year research plans and advisory committees. They have a vague sense that global warming will harm frogs, butterflies and polar bears, but that humans will just enjoy longer summers.
This communications problem reflects the backpacker / habitat-lover bias of many environmental advocacy groups. If there's a threat to a stand of old growth trees in the Yukon, they'll get up in arms. If there's a threat to the Baja California coastline from an oil spill, they'll issue action alerts. But, if people are being killed in their homes, the stories don't make the front pages. There's a cute-critter, rugged landscape fetish for many environmentalists that prevents them from persuasively communicating with people outside their own groups.
Don't get me wrong, I like panda bears. I love coral reefs. I don't just hug trees. I kiss them too. However, I don't live in a tree, or on a reef, or in the bamboo forests of China. Neither do most Americans. The environmental issues that really motivate most Americans are those that put them at risk, right in their own homes. In recent years, environmental groups have failed to remind Americans that the environment is not just something that exists in the Brazilian Rain Forest, but also in our own homes.
For example, few environmental groups have made the connection between global warming and the death of 15,000 people in France who were literally cooked to death by record setting temperatures this summer. That's more than five times as many people as were killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The shit hits your mouth
The point is that there are plenty of highly motivating environmental issues that the environmental community just isn't communicating effectively about. Case in point: George W. Bush wants to put shit in your drinking water.
Let me say that again: George W. Bush wants to put shit in your drinking water.
No, I'm not using the word "shit" here to refer generically to stuff, which could include the kinds of relatively obscure noxious substances that environmentalists commonly refer to, like PCBs, herbicides, and genetically modified organisms. No, when I say "shit", I mean "shit". We're talking feces. Dung. Bowel movements. Poop.
George W. Bush wants to put shit in your drinking water. No, I'm not shitting you. You can read all about it in the following article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
This is not only the kind of environmental message that strongly motivates people, it's also true. George W. Bush does, in fact, want to put shit in your drinking water. So why haven't we heard more about it? Why is the environmental establishment not communicating about this issue more clearly and directly? The story is this: George W. Bush wants to put shit in your drinking water!
What the shit?
What is Bush thinking? Why would he want to put shit into your drinking water?
Put on your thinking cap, now. What usually makes George W. Bush propose ideas that would make any ordinary people vomit in disgust? That's right, it's all about money -- rich people's money.
You see, George W. Bush wants to put shit in your drinking water because he thinks that it would just be too much of a financial burden on rich people and big corporations to keep shit out of the mouths of everyday Americans.
In order to save money, so that rich people can get their special tax breaks, George W. Bush has decided that it's most effiecient to let big loads of shit flow out into America's supplies of drinking water every now and then. He has actually ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to allow for the mixing of shit into America's public sources of drinking water. Bush and his friends call this process "blending".
This is what we mean when we say that George W. Bush wants to put shit in your drinking water. He really, actually has proposed changing Americans' drinking water into a "blend" of water and shit.
Bush, and his Republican elite advisors, say that they have no choice but to put shit into you drinking water. They admit that there are alternatives to putting shit into your drinking water, but say that these alternatives would just cost too much money.
Bush's supporters echo his concern about the financial burden of not putting shit in your drinking water. For example, Ohio's Regional Sewer District Executive Director Erwin Odeal complains that it would cost "countless billions" to not mix shit into America's drinking water every now and then.
Countless billions? Oh, come now. Let's be honest. Those billions are not countless. In fact, it would probably cost less than oh, say, 87 billion dollars to guarantee Americans drinking water with no shit mixed into it. It would cost much less than the amount of Bush's huge government giveaway to the rich to keep America's tap water shit-free.
You see, the issue isn't about saving money. It's about value judgments. George W. Bush just so happens to value going to war in Iraq and giving a tax cut to the rich more than he values letting Americans drink tap water that does not have shit in it.
See, now, for me, having shit-free water is one of the basic elements of civilized life. Drinking shit is one of those things that people with my kind of values just refuse to do, no matter the cost. I understand that many Bush supporters don't share these values. That's fine, so long as they don't force me to live according to their own shit-drinking principles.
The market forces of shit in your water
In the eyes of the Republican Party, shit in your drinking water is actually a sign of the benefits of capitalism. No, I'm not shitting you!
You see, the Republican elite looks at it like this: They believe that it's not a big deal to "blend" shit into Americans' tap water, because doing so helps to bring choice into the drinking water market.
You see, the Republican mind reasons that because there will always be bottled, filtered water available for sale, it's really just a matter of choice, whether Americans will drink the shit water that will come out of their taps under George W. Bush's plan. The rich will always have enough money to buy shit-free water, and other people will make market-based choices about whether to buy bottled shit-free water, or whether to put food on the table.
When you look at it this way, there is actually a huge untapped market for water with shit mixed into it. After all, the Republicans will argue, if people don't want shit in their water, then they'd go out and buy big cases of Perrier or Evian!
Conservative Republicans also tend to think that it's a good thing to make poverty difficult, and putting shit in the drinking water is a part of that agenda. You see, in the Republican elite philosophy, having conditions in which things like shit blended with water comes out of the faucet is supposed to motivate poor people to work harder and lift themselves up by the bootstraps.
Wow. I've got to read that biography of Rupert Murdoch again to see if he used to drink shit before he made his fortune. I can see the potential for a whole new Republican-inspired self-help program here!
Or, maybe, the Republicans are just full of shit. Maybe that's why George W. Bush doesn't think there's anything wrong with ordering the EPA to allow shit into your drinking water.
Big Shit Government
Another thing that lets Republican politicians like George W. Bush promote "blending" shit into America's drinking water is that they hate big government. Why do they hate big government? Republicans say that big government is bad because it forces people to comply with a lot of pesky regulations, like a regulation saying that it's illegal to mix shit with public supplies of drinking water.
This is where I get confused, though. You see, under George W. Bush, the government has actually gotten bigger, not smaller. Bush also has put in lots of pesky regulations, like the regulation that says that government agents have to search my shoes and peek behind my belt, patting down my legs and butt, before I get on an airplane.
In fact, the biggest big government I could ever think of would be Big Brother, the government that watches citizens wherever they go, no matter what they do. Strangely enough, even though they say they hate big government, George W. Bush and the Republican elite have tried several times to get big government Big Brother programs into place. Bush and company have tried to get the government to spy on American's personal credit card transactions, telephone calls and emails. They've tried to start a system which would encourage Americans to spy on their neighbors and report the juicy tidbits to Bush's big government. Heck, they've succeeded in giving the big government the right to search my house, scan my library card records, tap my telephone, record everything I do on my computer, and infiltrate my community organizations, all without telling me that they're doing so, and without the approval or even knowledge of a judge. That's not just big government. That's huge government.
What's really strange is that this big government network George W. Bush uses to spy on Americans is intended, as the Department of Homeland Security says, is to protect us all from threats to public safety. One threat Bush's big government tells us that we should worry about is a terrorist plot to attack America's water supply, fouling it with poisons.
So, the Bush Administration is willing to create a big government bureaucracy of spies to protect our water supply from foreign terrorists, but then tells American sewage facilities to go ahead and dump shit into our drinking water. Am I the only one who sees an inconsistency in that?
You know, I've been saying throughout this article that George W. Bush wants to put shit into your drinking water. Of course, the truth is actually a little more complex than that.
The truth is that George W. Bush does not only want to put shit into your drinking water. You see, what Bush has proposed "blending" into the nation's water supply is commonly referred to as "sewage". "Sewage", to be fair, is not pure shit. Sewage also contains some other things, such as piss, and puke, and drano, and dead goldfish, and used band aids, and decomposing toilet paper, and so on.
So, we admit it. To say that George W. Bush wants to put shit in your drinking water is not the whole truth. George W. Bush also wants to put piss and puke and drano and dead goldfish and used band aids and decomposing toilet paper and other stuff like that into your drinking water.
Feel better? No? Why don't you go and take a nice, hot bath, then.
Just be careful to spray yourself in Lysol afterwards. You don't know where that "water" is coming from.
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