Editor's Note: Jul. 18 marks the birthday of Hunter Stockton Thompson, who revolutionized journalism with his clever analysis and harebrained drug and alcohol-fueled antics and became a pop culture icon. To celebrate, this week's opinion piece has been written entirely by a seasoned volunteer under the influence of obscene quantities of alcohol, cannabis and hallucinogenic mushrooms. As such, the Gauntlet hopes readers will make allowances for any inconsistencies not removed as a result of (much heavy) editing.
"You know, I guess I'm like any other, you know, political figure- everybody wants to be loved."
-George W. Bush, during a White House news conference, Jul. 13, 2007.
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hallucinogens are not something to be taken lightly. There's a reason why the U.S. Government has deemed everything from LSD-25 to magic mushrooms threatening enough to the very American way of life that it has put the entire family on Schedule 1, along with crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and that evil marihuana plant, which turns sons against their fathers and makes even the most decent women start listening to the devil Rock'n'Roll. Indeed, the upper echelons of power are utterly terrified of any ethenogen that could possibly make the population consider any reality other than the scary and depressing one which we inhabit...
The smart money has been following U.S. President George W. Bush's popularity rating recently, which dropped to a staggering 26 per cent as reported Jul. 3 by Newsweek before stabilizing at around 29 per cent. The lowest popularity rating ever attributed to a U.S. president was 23 per cent, which was Jimmy Carter in the eighties. Hunter S. himself followed Nixon, who resigned before achieving that dubious honour at 24 per cent. How far will Bush drop? Well, it's only July and Bush has well over a year to either redeem himself for probably the longest and most needless war in American history (Vietnam notwithstanding), or drop six points more and forever leave the oval office. Indeed, it seems Mr. Bush might choose the second route, as evidenced by his melancholy, almost sad comments made a week ago.
Pop quiz: What do the years 1987 and 2007 have in common, besides the same trailing digits and the fact they were both the years before presidential races? That's right: both years, the Democrats, choosing nominees immediately following fairly disastrous GOP terms in office, thought they were shoe-ins for the presidency in 1988 and 2008, respectively. Yet, ironically enough, 1988 was the year that then-vice president George Bush (Sr.) ran successfully for the presidency of the United States of America. Granted, it's probably a bit disengenuine to compare the Iran-Contra affair, in which then-President Reagan was charged with evidence that his administration was selling weapons to Iran and illegally funneling funds to Nicaraguan guerrillas, to the current Iraq debacle. Irangate was still during the Cold War and at the time the enemy-du-jour was the USSR, not Iran. Hopefully I'm not the only one who can see the irony of the fact we're still talking about Iran. Regardless, while it's incredibly difficult to see Dick "Triggerhappy" Cheney as the Republican frontrunner in 2008, I wouldn't necessarily shit bricks were that the case.
So we come to 2007 and the recent commutation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence by President Bush (now Jr.) as being "excessive." If you haven't been following the case, Libby was a senior White House official who was tried and convicted after releasing the identity of CIA agent Valerie Wilson. In fact, the sentence given to Libby--30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine--is the lower end of the spectrum, which can be as high as 25 years and fines as high as a cool million. According to an article by Richard B. Schmitt and David G. Savage, the sentence given by Judge Reggie B. Walton was at the very low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. Had Scooter been your average university-aged ethnic psychedelic user who somehow managed, in an unfortunate series of events, to rack up a count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and one account of making false statements to federal investigators, he would have seen himself with an average stay in jail of 70 months.
Hunter S. was right. The world is just too goddamned scary for any sane person.