by Greg Method
Take a good look at the photograph to the right.
Yep, that's George W. Bush.
Nope, it wasn't Photoshopped in any way. That's really him in that very real picture.
I stumbled upon that image from Reuters in late February while reading some news online. Although I'm still a big supporter of the idea of the local physical newspaper, though maybe not specifically of my local newspaper, it's truly amazing how the Internet has revolutionized how we get our news and from where. There was a time when one's knowledge of the outside world was limited to whatever could have been squeezed into the daily newspaper(s) or summed up on the nightly news. Now we can learn all about what's happening in cities, states, and countries thousands of miles away with the click of a button. And news searches take their results from a variety of sources, so one minute you could be reading something off the AP wire, while the next you're checking out the Tacoma News Tribune. I even do all of my comic strip reading online now...I had no idea they still published Mark Trail. Man, that guy can solve anything with a fun fact and his right fist.
But I digress. I'm not here to shill online news. I'm here to make fun of Bush and go into why I find this picture to be so unsettling.
Honestly, in its original thumbnail size, at first I didn't even know that was Bush. It was only after I asked myself "Who's that clown dressed like a Revlon saleswoman?" did I learn the embarrassing truth.
I don't know why this picture intrigues me so. After all, Bush has often played dress-up in the past, so one more costume shouldn't be that much of a surprise. This is the man who parades around as a cowboy during his frequent down time, and he often tries to go for sick sentiment by oozing into a variety of military duds. So why does this new persona--let's call it "Dr. Bush" for the sake of labeling it--bug me?
For a little background information, that picture was taken on February 22 when Bush visited the Novozymes North America Inc. lab in Franklinton, North Carolina, where they were showing the bumpkin some of the work they were doing with ethanol. You see, ever since Democrats won back control of Congress last year, Bush has been making these half-hearted efforts to try to appear environmental, no doubt choking back hot vomit every time. He doesn't really care about the environment, nor does he plan on actually doing anything to help it. He has just barely a year left to go, so he's not going to start doing something revolutionary that he doesn't truly believe in. He's instead going to take a knee.
Anyway, part of Bush's environmental charade involves the administration "suddenly" being concerned about global warming and our country's dependency on foreign oil, even though neither were much of a priority for the first six years of their term. This newfound quasi-concern has involved meeting with labs and companies that have been working on new, revolutionary, affordable, environmentally friendly alternatives to using oil as fuel. Novozymes is one such company, even though the concept of using ethanol isn't all that new, or revolutionary, or affordable, or environmentally friendly of an alternative for that matter.
Let's face it, the only reason Bush is there because one of his handlers told him the visit was on his schedule. He probably didn't know where he was, whom he was speaking with, or what they were working on there...the proof is that he's shown in the picture smelling the bottle of ethanol. Ethanol is just alcohol. Yeah, alcohol, as in that clear liquid stuff used to clean wounds, rub on people's backs, and add to drinks. If Bush knew anything about what he was doing there, he most likely wouldn't have wanted to be seen holding a bottle of liquor, right? That would be like if Clinton was photographed hanging out at a hemp factory. And really, if Bush knew anything about ethanol, then why would he want to smell it? It's just grain alcohol, nothing too exciting. Instead he's inhaling it like someone just told him they discovered liquid Kryptonite.
And what's with the lab coat he's wearing? Didn't they have one in his size? He looks like someone playing Jerry Lewis playing the Nutty Professor. I'm half-expecting him to start stomping around in really big dress loafers, gaze off to the side, and squeal "I'm wearing Daddy's shoes!" like a mentally challenged infant.
There's always an odd awkwardness whenever Bush dresses up. He sort of reminds me of whenever an actor or character on a comedy show, be it a sitcom or sketch show, has to put on a slightly embarrassing outfit. Usually it's when a male character has to dress up in drag, but it could also be applied to S&M gear, chicken suits, or whatever. They always have that subtle "pained" expression on their face, as if they would rather die a horrible flaming death than endure several minutes of private humility. But what Bush does is he goes to the other extreme and really hams up whatever he's dressing up as, standing around and giving "thumbs up" or whatever, more or less mocking whatever profession was nice enough to give him a customized outfit.
His hair doesn't help the situation at all. Aren't there people that our tax dollars are supposedly paying for who are there to run a comb through his hair before making a public appearance that's going to be well documented by the press? For the last couple of years Bush has had this odd "disheveled" look about him from time to time, like he's been roused out of a nap and then hastily dressed before having to show up somewhere.
He honestly wants the world to believe that he's tough? That he's a leader? That he's not simply a lazy rich shit whose life and career haven't been manipulated by a select powerful few? Well then maybe he shouldn't be photographed looking like an aging intern on the graveyard shift in a county hospital emergency room, just a thought.
Then there's the pose itself. There's something unnatural about it, almost staged, like someone handed him the bottle and said, "We need an 'action' shot for the wire." Any journalism student should be able to tell you that you always want to avoid using "posed" pictures in an article, such as depicting someone on a phone or pouring coffee for examples. It creates a weird "zombie" effect, like if an extraterrestrial was trying to mimic human behavior..."See, I businessman, I work at desk, I make call on electric telephone."
With Bush the barometer has to be set much lower, only because he's never experienced the majority of things that the rest of us "commoners" have, such as working or looking busy. He doesn't know how to recreate the illusion of "doing something." This is why all of his big "photo op" moments have been of fanciful images that don't really apply to everyday life: standing atop rubble while holding a bullhorn, presenting a fake turkey to a platoon of hand-picked soldiers, posing in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier, etc. He doesn't understand the reality that you and I live and struggle in, so when he tries to pretend to be involved in that reality, he sticks out like a sore thumb. Normal American life is too intangible for him; you can see that in the policies he endorses or denounces, the bills he signs or vetos. He thinks a single woman working three jobs to support her kids is living the "American dream" because he doesn't understand the meaning of that dream, nor does he have a need to.
In 2004 a lot of people said in a poll that they would vote for Bush because he was the candidate they would most like to have a beer with. First of all, it's sad that something so irrelevant, so imaginary would be a person's ultimate deciding factor. What kind of infantile person even entertains such an idea? You're never going to be in the same room as Bush, let alone be able to talk socially with him, and back in 2004 you would have maybe been only slightly more likely to briefly shake John Kerry's hand only because he was making a point of being out there more to make his presence known. So where does the naiveness come from that one would ever be able to just hang out and get drunk with Bush? I've fantasized about select celebrities before, we all have, but I would never let such a fantasy become a driving factor in my personal judgment when it comes to, oh I dunno, selecting the leader of the free world. It sort of reminds me of Reaganomics: if you join up with this stupid dreamer, you'll be among the stupid dreamers. I promise you, if you were to miraculously be able to sit down next to Bush and sip beers together, it would be the most uncomfortable three minutes of your life. And then when he excuses himself, he'll hole himself up in a nearby limo, do several lines of coke, and whine about how he actually had to interact with one of us for a moment.
But ultimately, the pose looks unnatural because Bush was given something to do, something to hold. Bush simply does not improvise well, either with speech or mannerisms, and this pose looks about as comfortable to him as I would look being dangled over a shark tank.
In the end, I think this picture is so entertaining because it's simply the anti-thesis of George W. Bush.
It's science-related. It's environment-related. It theoretically proposes an alternative to oil, an industry that has given over $4.5 million to Bush's election campaigns. And if there's no more foreign oil to hoard, then we'd have very little presence in the Middle East, thus erasing Bush's hoped-for legacy of "spreading freedom" there. It depicts someone being curious about something and seemingly trying to learn more about it and how it can help others. It's everything Bush is not. It's progressive, adventurous to new ideas, and hopeful for a better future.
It would be great if we actually had a president who was all these things, thinking of their country or planet before themselves. Regardless of their political party, that would truly be a president everyone could get behind; a uniter. Instead, we're stuck with this schmuck.
Thankfully, it's only for another fourteen months.
Quote of the Month
"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and the president himself."
Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan on telling the press back in 2003 that the White House had no involvement in the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity
Link of the Month
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