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Bush Deconstructed

Biodiesel's secret is that Republicans love to support it, too

By Novella Carpenter

The Conspiracy Theory goes like this: Bush, our president--W--has a hypnotic way of speaking; his folksy, aw shucks malapropisms, a tilt in his eyes--it dulls us, and we the public can't resist. I cannot abide seeing Bush on TV or even hearing his voice. One time I got all soft and he's-not-that-bad, and ever since I've avoided all contact with W, because I wouldn't put it past his handlers to use mind control.

But he's out stumping for his energy bill, which involves cars, so I have to listen. The press coverage focused on Emperor Bush's wise words about fuel costs: "Americans are concerned about high prices at the pump, and they're really concerned as they start making their travel plans, and I understand that. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and lower the price at the pump. That's not how it works." Really W? I thought you got that wizard degree at Yale. Still, my eyes got a little droopy, and I felt kind of like W might be kind of fun to have at a barbecue.

In the podunk town of West Point, Va., W stopped at a biodiesel refinery, compared himself to George Washington and spread the good news about the vegetable oil­based fuel. Biodiesel's secret is that Republicans love to support it, too. Here's why: Fuel made from virgin soy oil is like liquid gold for huge corporations like Archer Daniels Midland and Monsanto, who can sell GMO soybeans, fertilizers and pesticides to "family farmers" and make a killing.

The National Biodiesel Board, the first group in the United States to promote biodiesel use, was founded in 1992 by state soybean commodity groups, for example. Though the soy lobby isn't quite as powerful as the petroleum industry's, it does weld political power. W went on to say, "Here at Virginia BioDiesel, you are using Virginia soybean oil to produce a clean-burning fuel. Other biodiesel refiners are making fuel from waste products like recycled cooking grease. Biodiesel can be used in any vehicle that runs on regular diesel, and delivers critical environmental and economic benefits." He actually mentioned waste veggie oil? He is kind of cute.

Then he outlined his four-point plan, which actually had two points. They are: conserve, and build more refineries/"explore." This is when mind control stopped working, and I grew livid. Bush said, "We're raising fuel-economy standards for sport utility vehicles and vans and pickup trucks, starting with model year 2005. When these reasonable increases in mileage standards take full effect, they will save American drivers about 340,000 barrels of gasoline a day."

People, this is chicken scratch! Bush has never supported stringent fuel-economy standards--witness his support of carmakers during the battles between them and states like California, who were pushing for stricter emissions and fuel-economy standards. Of course, according to Bush, the reason Americans--Americans!--are paying high prices is because India and China are using more fuel, which drives up the price. "We must help countries like India and China to reduce their demand for crude oil." This is so typical of Bush to try to shift the blame for America's voracious oil consumption to the developing world for wanting to consume just like us.

The second point got me awake, breathing heavy and holding a gun to the TV screen. "The second step toward making America less dependent on foreign oil is to produce and refine more crude oil here at home, in environmentally sensitive ways. By far the most promising site for oil in America is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Technology has advanced to the point where you can take a small portion--2,000 acres--of this vast track of land and explore for oil in an environmentally sensitive way."

"Explore," my ass--drill, the verb is drill. And there's no such thing as sensitive drilling. By now, I stopped being hypnotized by Bush's visage, and I'm never going to watch C-SPAN again. You never know what the thought police are capable of.

Email Novella at [email protected]

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From the June 1-8, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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