Another stroke of genius …

As hard as it may be to believe – especially for those of the Republican persuasion – every time President George W. Bush has a brainstorm, I get a splitting headache.

Take the Bush Administration’s latest master stroke of alternative thinking – the acquisition and recycling of other countries’ radioactive fuel wastes.

According to a recent Washington Post report, the multidecade plan would involve reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from other nations’ civilian reactors to help bolster the United States’ nuclear energy capabilities in the future.

Uh-huh.

See what I mean? A splitting headache every time.

This might be a great idea if the United States were another country on, perhaps, another planet in a different time. We are, however, talking about the good old U.S.A. right here and now – a country that has had more than its share of problems recycling things like aluminum beer cans, discarded hamburger containers and leaky automobile batteries – not to mention our grandparents’ old black-and-white TV sets.

Let’s face it, amigos, even on the simplest of levels, recycling is something we frequently talk about but seldom accomplish with any reasonable success.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the homeless, I’ve found, are usually the most enthusiastic and effective recyclers to be found anywhere, but somehow I don’t think they’re ready to start handling large quantities of spent nuclear fuel.

I’m sure that some of you are thinking that we may be able to best safeguard the process by getting the military involved in the spent nuclear fuel recycling program.

Sounds good on the surface, but have you noticed that every time we close a domestic military base it takes about 10 years to clean up all the hazardous waste left behind? Hell, it takes years just to identify it…

(“Well, colonel, the container says ‘tomato sauce,’ but it has quite a glow, doesn’t it?”)

Even if we somehow find some safe, economical method to store and reprocess tons of spent nuclear fuel, where are we going to do the reprocessing?

This is, after all, America, and nobody wants a spent nuclear reprocessing operation in his or her backyard, on his block or in his state.

In fact, if you read the headlines, nobody wants much of anything within 150 miles of anywhere.

Citizens routinely turn out to protest such neighborhood eyesores as golf courses and softball diamonds. Ditto for convenience markets, archery ranges and (shudder!) apartment buildings.

Propose erecting a white picket fence in front of your modest Cecilville cottage and 150 neighbors you didn’t even know you had will be marching back and forth in front of your driveway with torches and pitchforks demanding that the monstrosity be removed.

And what are we going to do with the spent nuclear fuel that we can’t immediately reprocess? Maybe we can use it to reinforce the levees around New Orleans.

Uh-oh…

George, were you listening? C’mon, George, that was a joke. Really. Just a little harmless hyperbole. George? Come back here right now! George?!

Oh, maaaaannnnn…

Originally published February 26, 2006

 

Here’s the real truth about George W. Bush

As the 2004 presidential election draws nigh, incumbent Pres. George W. Bush’s Vietnam-era Texas Air National Guard service has again been forcibly booted into the spotlight.

Democratic opponents claim that George W. served with less than distinction, even going AWOL on occasion. To counter this, the president has suddenly produced his 1968-73 service records to prove that he was on the job. Except for some, er, gaps.

And just to make things the teeniest bit more confusing, a former National Guardsman recently stepped forward to say that he saw Bush’s military records unceremoniously tossed out years ago to avoid any future embarrassment.

What’s happening, America?

Would the Democrats lie? Gosh, that’s never happened before.

Would the president fabricate official records? Golly, that’s never happened before.

If, like many Americans, you’re having trouble believing either of these heretofore impeccably credible political entities, I’ve got the real story for you.

I know. I was there (at least I thought it was me. It could easily have been someone like me, I suppose. There are some gaps…).

Trouble started in the summer of 1972 when my old ’60s sidekick, Sapper, and I were drowning our sorrows in a nondescript Alabama roadhouse.

Sapper, forever lost in the Age of Aquarius after ingesting some unidentifiable herbs near Bolinas in 1968, was disgruntled over his inability to distill psychotropic substances from artichokes and I was lamenting the lack of anti-war sentiment in Monte Sereno.

As the evening progressed, we were joined by a personable young National Guard officer named George and a shady CIA operative named Bruce.

The latter whispered to us that he needed to recruit an untraceable three-man team to travel to Vietnam and rescue international entrepreneur Pepe “The Tuna” Rebarativo from the clutches of the Viet Cong. The wily guerrillas, Bruce explained, were holding Rebarativo somewhere on the outskirts of Saigon and America’s critically important copra supply was threatened if the canny businessman wasn’t freed soon.

George, being the gung-ho kinda guy he was, immediately volunteered all three of us for the mission and, within 48 hours, we were prowling the dark back streets of Saigon in search of the missing millionaire.

As luck would have it, Rebarativo had actually escaped the Viet Cong three weeks earlier and we found him partying with the Dutch cultural attache and a traveling limbo troupe from Jamaica. We called for a chopper and “The Tuna” was back home four days after our arrival.

Mission accomplished.Unfortunately, since this was a secret mission, it was never acknowledged in George W. Bush’s service records, hence the telltale “gaps” therein.

Hey, waydaminnit – did I hear a “Harrrrumph! Another tall tale!” from someone out there?

C’mon, amigos, this account is at least as believable as any of the others purporting to explain irregularities in the president’s National Guard record.

And if you don’t believe me, just ask George W. about this mission the next time you bump into him. I’m sure his response will surprise you…

Originally published February 29, 2004