Legacies of noble public service apparently are just so much tripe and useless bragging rights to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, who obviously prefer to retire with reputations for a wreck-and-ruin administration.
The pair is using its last months in office to fire off mean-spirited parting shots at Americans and the values we cherish.
For starters, it conned the U.S. Senate into confirming Michael Mukasey as attorney general. Gullible, naïve and spineless Democrats were promised a Justice chief who, as a former federal judge, would be a no-nonsense attorney general who'd restore integrity and purpose to the law agency corrupted by Alberto Gonzales and his right-wing hirelings.
Instead, Mukasey has shed his disguise and emerged as another Bush-Cheney patsy, a man who claims he doesn't know whether waterboarding is torture; a man who refuses to prosecute Justice officials who corrupted the agency with partisan decisions; and a man who, safe to say, finds no wrongdoing in anything that Bush and Cheney decide to do.
Segue to new decisions of the White House that undo years and years of environmental progress:
In Utah, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has opened 2 million acres of relatively virgin Bureau of Land Management territory in six counties for energy development and as a playground for off-highway vehicles. Gone will be the tranquil ways of unspoiled backcountry experiences for recreationists seeking quiet. The roar of OHV vehicles ripping new trails through vegetation and new roads for energy drilling equipment will be more common.
Kempthorne, another Bush-Cheney flunky, upped the attack on environmentalism with an even more mean-spirited order handed down from the White House: Federal agencies in the future will be allowed to decide whether a wildlife species is threatened or endangered before proceeding with a project. Species and environmental experts will be bypassed.
So, to use one possible example, the Federal Highway Administration would not be bothered with the consequences of carving a new super road through habitat, or the military could acquire huge chunks of land for new weapons testing ranges and ignore damage to species.
These no doubt are considered admirable expansions of presidential authority, as championed by the power-obsessed vice president, who is blind to the difference between a strong president and a tyrant.
In fact, dragging the nation backward to policies and practices that gave license to robber barons in the 1800s only cheapens the presidency, demeans public respect for the office and ensures the only legacy possible for Bush and Cheney: history's worst U.S. chief executives, who escaped impeachment only because of pathetic Democratic leaders crippled by cowardice