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By Bill Gallagher

"A little Madness in the Spring

Is wholesome even for the King."

-- Emily Dickinson

American Poet 1830-1886

DETROIT -- For our loathsome king, madness is always in season. His newfound "passion" for cycling is yet another excess in exercise, a diversion from the demons that usually grip him. But, gratefully, when he's outside peddling, he's not clowning in the Oval Office where the "decider" and his "gut" create more suffering and havoc for the world.

Washington in the spring is lush and green, brimming with blossoms, freshness and hopeful renewal -- a state of nature not found in the state of our union.

It's too much to hope that someday, when tooling around on his expensive bike, Bush might actually think about how fragile and threatened our green Earth is and how imperative good stewardship is to save it for other generations.

Bush says cycling allows him to "chase the fountain of youth." Yet, six years into his presidency, he has done nothing to deal with the greenhouse gases that spur global warming and shorten the life expectancy of our entire ecosystem. He has fostered our national addiction to petroleum. His energy policies encourage wasteful consumption and add to the already-obscene profits of oil companies and their executives.

Bush permits his favored industries to poison the air we breathe and imperil the health of millions of people, especially children. He devotes his energies to enhancing the wealth of his family and his Houston cronies.

Issues like clean air and the survival of the planet don't occupy any of King George's precious time. Once, though, he did sit down with half a dozen cycling enthusiasts for a chat about their shared hobby. They met for 35 minutes.

That's 34 minutes and 45 seconds longer that Bush spent reacting to the intelligence report he received in August 2001 titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

Bush spent more time in one cycling seance than he has personally devoted -- during his entire administration -- to working on the creation of the nation of Palestine, the single most important deed required to even begin quelling violence and terrorism in the Middle East.

Bush's spring offensive, aimed as jolting his tanking poll numbers, is another flop. His staff shuffle and the new branding of the struggle with terrorism as "World War III" no longer fool the long-fooled American people.

The latest CBS poll shows only 30 percent now say they approve of Bush's handling of his war in Iraq.

CIA Director Porter Goss got sacked amid reports one of his top deputies attended hooker-graced poker parties at the Watergate Hotel in Washington with former Congressman Duke Cunningham, the convicted bribe taker. Goss may have played a few hands himself.

He was a disaster from the get-go, filling top CIA posts with his own political hacks. Goss had an undistinguished stint with the agency decades ago, but built his political stock as a Florida congressman and House Intelligence Committee chairman.

During his oversight, he presided over the colossal intelligence failures prior to the 9/11 attacks. He also allowed his predecessor, George "The Whore" Tenet, to get away with blaming the agency for Bush's "intelligence failures" on Iraq's weapons programs.

The Busheviks are back-pedaling on any real diplomatic initiatives. Their essential foreign policy is protecting oil interests and corporate greed.

When big oil beckons, big Dick rises to the occasion. Vice President Cheney made a rare trip from the bat cave and accused Russia of using its oil and gas resources as "tools of intimidation or blackmail." Cheney wants to rekindle the Cold War and rattle the Russian bear. His disgraceful hypocrisy is as transparent as it is dangerous.

In his speech to European leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania, last week, Cheney dared to pretend the United States can preach civic virtue and democratic values to the Russian government.

He accused the Putin government of alienating allies and "other actions by the Russian government have been counterproductive, and could begin to affect relations of other countries."

Dick Cheney has systematically and repeatedly attacked the fundamental constitutional rights of the American people. He favors illegal spying, denial of due process and claims unlimited executive authority. He and his boy Bush should be impeached and tried for treason.

For "enemy combatants," Cheney supports torture, imprisonment without charges, kidnapping and the rejection of international law and the Geneva accords. He claims the "war-time president" can do anything with no accountability to any one. In a just world, those actions would assure Cheney and Bush a war crimes trial in the Hague.

Of all people to lecture the Russians on human rights and democratic principles, no one is more unfit than Dick Cheney. The hypocrisy of his mission was even more apparent when he went to Kazakhstan to cozy up with its despotic leaders and promote U.S. oil interests, especially -- surprise, surprise -- Halliburton's.

If freedom and democracy are taking lickings in Russia, they are getting killed in Kazakhstan. But Lord Halliburton didn't utter a syllable about those abuses. He was too busy cutting deals for his former company -- in which he still has a financial stake -- and pumping up other U.S. energy interests there.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kazakh president, won re-election to his third six-year term in 2005 with a Stalin-like 91 percent of the vote. In the last six months, two of his political opponents have been murdered. Amnesty International has cited Kazakhstan for a litany of human rights abuses.

But when did a little blood in the pursuit of oil ever bother big Dick? He's plunged into the geopolitical conflicts in the region sucking up to the Kazakhs to assure a U.S. claim on its vast energy resources. Halliburton runs an oil services operation there and wants to build new export routes for the nation's enormous reserves.

While every single organization monitoring human rights abuses ranks Kazakhstan's record much worse than Russia's, Cheney chose to ignore that unpleasant truth. He expressed support for the Kazakh government, without hesitation or reservation.

He told reporters, "I have previously expressed my admiration for what has transpired here over the past 15 years both in terms of economic development as well as political development."

The murders, torture, political prisoners and rigged elections don't mean a damn thing to Cheney. Like in Iraq, it's all about oil and the use of the U.S. military power and influence to assure its steady flow.

The Busheviks use stunning arrogance to pressure and demand that nations in Central Asia and the Middle East cater to our insatiable thirst for oil. We wage wars and support tyrants to get it. We claim foreign energy reserves as our "own," usually depriving impoverished people of their resources. Our greed creates more unrest in already troubled regions and encourages terrorism.

Nations around the world, including many long-time friends, distrust, even despise us. George W. Bush doesn't really care. He and his people are wealthy and content. Now, in another spring of the world's discontent, Bush is taking carefree rides on his bike, isolated from the disasters he inflicts on suffering people and our environment.

Emily Dickinson concluded the poem from which the words at the beginning of this column are taken with the following:

"But God be with the Clown

Who ponders this tremendous scene

This Experiment of Green

As if it were his own!"

God save us from our clown-king.

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is gallaghernewsman@sbcglobal.net.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com May 9 2006