‘Why should we ask our military to die for cheap oil when the rest of us aren’t even being asked to get better mileage?’ – Molly Ivins, who writes this week, as well: ‘I think it is inarguable that this is the most anti-environmental administration since before Teddy Roosevelt.’

‘The Bush administration, with remarkable single-mindedness, has set about undoing more than thirty years of work to protect the nation’s air, water, and shrinking wilderness.’ – Elizabeth Kolbert writing in last week’s New Yorker. ‘With President Bush and Vice-President Cheney – two oilmen – in the White House, and with lawmakers of a similar anti-regulatory outlook about to control both the House and the Senate, there has probably never been a greater government consensus on, or perhaps one should say against, the environment.’

‘The oil industry tycoons who run the Bush presidency must be rubbing their hands with glee. The road to higher profits – and to accelerated environmental degradation – lies open.’ – Henry Garfield in (Maine’s) Village Soup last week. He goes on to say:

Al Gore, a Democrat with solid environmental credentials, received more votes, despite the presence of Nader, the ‘environmental’ candidate. Put the Green and Democrat vote together, and you have a solid majority against Bush’s anti-environmental agenda.

The irony of all this is that Nader’s candidacy has made the impending assault possible. Gore would certainly veto drilling in the ANWR and other odious anti-environment, pro-big business legislation. Nader’s assertion that there is no fundamental difference between the two major parties is about to be proven wrong with a vengeance. The consequences, in terms of polluted watersheds, despoiled wilderness and increased emission of greenhouse gases, will be felt for generations.

Gore’s chief failing, in the eyes of voters who deserted the Democrats for the Greens in the 2000 election, seems to be that he is wooden on television and in debates. Granted, Bush’s malapropisms and linguistic manglings are more entertaining, but behind the regular-guy facade lies a cadre of wealthy businessmen eager to impose their agenda on a country that opposes it. This is just what Nader ran against, yet this is what his candidacy has wrought.

The unvarnished truth is that Nader got Bush elected. If Nader had not been on the ballot, Gore would have won New Hampshire, and Florida would have been moot. You can yell all you want to about Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris and hanging chads and the Supreme Court, but none of it would have happened had not Nader split the majority, left-of-center vote.

In a parliamentary democracy, minor parties make some sense, because ideologically close parties can form governing coalitions. In the American, winner-take-all system, splinter parties like the Greens are ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst. When drilling begins in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, President Bush ought to send a personal thank-you note to every Green voter in America. After all, they made it possible.’

The sad thing is that we were not able to hang on to the Senate in 2002, to blunt more of the damage. As in 2000, it was so close! Had one small plane not crashed (or had Garrison Keillor written his piece on Norm Coleman before the election instead of after), and had 41,000 or so votes been cast differently in Missouri and New Hampshire, three Senate seats that went R would have gone D. Big swing. They didn’t, so that’s that. But let us not forget that, despite the huge Republican financial advantage and their being able to schedule the war debate to fall between Labor Day and Election Day to crowd out issues like, well, oil and the environment, it was still very, very, very close. And on the environment, polls show, most voters do not favor the administration policies. But they won, so they’ll do what they want.

Poor Mother Earth.

Well, into our SUV’s (which could easily get better fuel mileage but don’t) and off to grandmother’s house we go.

Onward and upward.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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