The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 175)

October 18, 2004
Top Ten Debate Moments, Round Three Edition

Welcome to the third and final Top Ten Debate Moments! By the end of the last week's debate it must have been overwhelmingly obvious to anyone with a brain that if John Kerry and George W. Bush had a debate a day for the next ten years, Kerry would still be forceful, steady and convincing and Bush would still be a bumbling maroon. The third debate definitely focused more on substance over style, although George struggled to keep his composure and the constant smirking was somewhat off-putting. But even on substance Dubya demonstrated that he was light years behind John Kerry, and another clear win put Kerry three-for-three in the series. Let's go to the tape! (Same drill as the last couple of weeks - no key, and you can find the debate transcript and video on the C-SPAN website).

1George the Third
While John Kerry remained totally consistent throughout the three debates, it seemed pretty obvious last week that Karl Rove has had some trouble balancing Dubya's meds.

Grrrr. I'm Scowling George.

My opponent knows all the answers and I sound like a complete dummy. That makes me sad. Stupid John Kerry. Think I'm gonna lean on my podium.

Man, why did I have to do these debates? I hope this one's nearly over.

Raaah! I'm Angry George!

Karl Rove got mad at me last time for not looking presidentified enough, so this time I'm feeling furious! Look at me! I'm the most powerful man in the world!

Need some wood?

Wheee! I'm Zany George!

Stupid Karl told me that I scared everyone last time and this time I have to impress the ladies. So I'm not allowed to stop smiling. Anyway, it ain't that hard. Domestic issues are funny! Maybe I'll throw in a snicker.

Wanna hear a joke about the liberal media? Oh... guess not.

2Spittle and Smirk
There's no question that Bush seemed somewhat calmer during the third debate than he did during his two previous encounters with Senator Kerry. There is, however, a question which needs answering:
what the hell was so funny?

Dubya spent the entire debate with a shit-eating grin on his face that frankly seemed quite out of place considering the seriousness of the subjects brought up for discussion. While Kerry spoke, George stared across at him with a strange, twisted smirk on his face - and if the smirk was a plot intended to reassure voters by reminding them that their president wasn't a) the stumbling buffon they'd seen during the first debate, or b) the PCP-enhanced turbo-prez they'd seen during the second, the plot failed.

When it was George's turn to speak, he answered every question with the same bizarre grin. Bin Laden? Chortle. Abortion? Beam. Unemployment? Simper. And as the New York Times reported, "Yet even his smile was askew for about half the debate, marred by a glistening light dot at the right corner of his mouth. Viewers could be forgiven for losing track of his answers and imagining Laura Bush in the front row in frantic semaphore, wiping furiously at the corner of her own mouth."

If the voters tuned in to this debate hoping for some inspiration from George W. Bush, it must have been something of a disappointment to witness the spectacle of a drooling president whose response to the devastating failures of his domestic policies was "don't worry, be happy."

Perhaps that's why CBS's scientific poll of undecided voters showed Kerry the winner by 39% to 25%, CNN's showed Kerry the winner by 52% to 29%, and ABC's showed Kerry the winner by 42% to 41% (which isn't quite so impressive until you find out that ABC's polling group was 38% Republican, 30% Democratic).

3Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
After three crushing defeats for George W. Bush, desperate Republicans needed something to distract the media - and they found the perfect foil in Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary. Toward the end of last week's debate moderator Bob Schieffer tossed out a question about gay marriage, specifically asking both candidates, "Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?"

Bush's answer was predictably fuzzy. "You know, Bob, I don't know. I just don't know. I do know that we have a choice to make in America and that is to treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity. It's important that we do that. And I also know in a free society people, consenting adults can live the way they want to live." You could almost hear the fundies gnashing their teeth. It's okay though, because while George believes that "consenting adults can live the way they want to live," and we should "treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity," he also believes we should write homophobia into law by amending the Constitution.

Kerry's answer to the question "Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?" was much more straightforward. "We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not choice."

And here's where it gets interesting.

Mary Cheney's sexuality is no secret - according to the Gay & Lesbian Times, she has "worked on gay issues and on her fatherís 2000 vice presidential campaign," worked as "as a gay community liaison for Coors Brewing Company," and has "served on the advisory board of the Republican Unity Coalition, a gay-straight alliance formed within the Republican party to help increase tolerance within the party for gays and lesbians, and others."

Dick Cheney himself brought up Mary's sexuality when speaking on the issue of gay marriage back in August: "Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with... With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone."

John Edwards mentioned Mary during the vice-presidential debate two weeks ago, saying, "I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing." Dick Cheney's response? "Let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much."

But after last week's debate the Cheneys suddenly weren't so appreciative. Lynne Cheney said of John Kerry, "This is not a good man. Of course, I am speaking as a mom, and a pretty indignant mom. This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick." Because obviously when you mention your homosexual daughter as an example of why gays should be treated with respect it's okay, but when your opponent mentions your homosexual daughter as an example of why gays should be treated with respect, it's a "tawdry political trick."

Speaking of tawdry political tricks, the Bush campaign spent the rest of the week tossing "outrage" and "indignation" and various other impassioned synonyms at anyone who would listen, coincidentally obscuring the fact that Dubya got his ass handed to him during the debate.

And yet... back in April Republican senator Rick Santorum compared homosexuality to incest, bigamy and adultery. In an August newsletter to supporters, Jerry Falwell called Mary Cheney "errant" (although he graciously admitted that "it should not affect Mr. Cheney's ability to serve as Vice President"). And in September, Republican senate candidate Alan Keyes specifically targeted Mary Cheney as "a selfish hedonist."

Funny, I don't remember seeing Lynne Cheney all over the TV expressing her "outrage" after any of those incidents. Maybe she was too busy trying to find a way to keep Mary off the stage during the Republican National Convention.

4Osama bin Forgotten
If there were an award for Biggest Clanger of the Debates, George W. Bush would have won it last Wednesday. Forget "Need some wood?" Forget "I hear there's rumors on the Internets." Forget "Mexed missages." Forget "I know that!"

During an early response, John Kerry body-slammed George W. Bush with this statement: "Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, 'Where is Osama bin Laden?' He said, 'I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned.'"

George - smirk slightly rattled but still firmly affixed - simpered, "Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those... exaggerations." (Apparently George didn't get the memo that the "exaggerations" line is, like, so four years ago.)

Want to know exactly what George W. Bush said about Osama bin Laden? Here it is:

"Ah, y'know, again, I don't know where he is. I, uh, heh heh, ah, I... I... I repeat what I said, I truly am not that concerned about him."
- George W. Bush, March 13, 2002. (
Windows Media | RealVideo)

That was just six months after September 11th, ladies and gentlemen. I hate to say it, but George's attitude sounds a bit September 10th to me.

5Canada Bad. No, Canada Good!
Think the president should be able to remember things he said all the way back in 2002? I've got news for you - Bush had trouble remembering what he'd said at the second debate five days previously.

On the subject of flu vaccines the president was perilously cavalier. The question was: "We are talking about protecting ourselves from the unexpected, but the flu season is suddenly upon us. Flu kills thousands of people every year. Suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?"

As usual, Bush made excuses and blamed someone else - this time, our erstwhile allies the English. Stupid English.

"Bob, we relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States citizen, and it turned out that the vaccine they were producing was contaminated. And so we took the right action and didn't allow contaminated medicine into our country."

Good for us. Except the flu vaccine was actually under the control of an American company which outsourced its medical research to a private plant in England. And it was the British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency who subsequently suspended the vaccine-maker's license and stopped further shipments. (Stupid government regulators, sticking their noses into everything. Now they've even taken away our right to shoot ourselves up with contaminated flu vaccines.)

Bush went on: "We're working with Canada to hopefully - that they'll produce a - help us realize the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season."

Okay, hold the phone. During the second debate, Dubya told us some scary stories about Canadian drugs: "And what my worry is is that, you know, it looks like it's from Canada, and it might be from a third world."


It's alright though, because if you can't get contaminated flu vaccines from England or third world flu vaccines from Canada, Our Great Leader has some good advice for you:

"Don't get a flu shot."

6Rotten To The Caucus
Time for another body-slam. While discussing race issues, John Kerry reminded America that "This president is the first president ever, I think, not to meet with the NAACP. This is a president who hasn't met with the Black Congressional Caucus. This is a president who has not met with the civil rights leadership of our country."

Grinning, Dubya responded, "Well, first of all, it is just not true that I haven't met with the Black Congressional Caucus. I met with the Black Congressional Caucus at the White House."

Now, to be uncharacteristically fair and balanced, I should point out that while John Kerry is right about George W. Bush not meeting with the NAACP, he was not entirely correct - George W. Bush has met with the Congressional Black Caucus. But the story of that meeting is actually quite interesting.

Last February, after their repeated requests to meet with the president to discuss Haiti were denied, members of the Congressional Black Caucus decided to show up at the White House anyway. About 20 members of the caucus were subsequently greeted by Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice (pandering, much?) who told the lawmakers that - sorry - the president was not at home.

So the CBC simply refused to leave. And guess what? Fifteen minutes later, after presumably realizing that he couldn't hide out in the Lincoln Bedroom's ensuite bathroom all day, George showed up. And that was that.

Oh yes - one more thing. After pretending he wasn't at home and then grudgingly meeting with the CBC, the White House issued a statement saying Bush "welcomed the opportunity" to visit with them. What a bunch of crap.

7Minimum What Now?
One of Bush's worst answers of the night was to the question, "The gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck at, what, $5.15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?"

John Kerry answered that he would raise the minimum wage to $7 an hour. But Bush's response was just bizarre.

"Actually, Mitch McConnell had a minimum-wage plan that I supported that would have increased the minimum wage," he said (we'll come to that in a minute). "But let me talk about what's really important for the worker you're referring to. And that's to make sure the education system works. It's to make sure we raise standards. Listen, the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it."

And just like that, he was off to the races. While TV screens across the nation displayed the question "Is it time to raise the minimum wage?" Bush spent the next minute and a half babbling about education.

"You cannot solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem. And we weren't diagnosing problems. And therefore just kids were being shuffled through the school."

"Many inner-city kids just move through. We've stopped that practice now by measuring early."

"I remember a lady in Houston, Texas, told me, 'Reading is the new civil right,' and she's right."

So, uh, should we raise the minimum wage or what?

Not that improving the education system isn't a laudable goal - it is, and if Bush had actually funded No Child Left Behind instead of just waving its name around like it means something, maybe that goal could be achieved. But how does it solve anything if kids come out of school with a better education and then either can't find a job or can only find a job that pays a pittance?

I mean, I know Bush's corporate paymasters wouldn't complain about a better-educated workforce who'll take employment for next-to-nothing, but... oh.

I think I just figured it out.

Remember that Mitch McConnell minimum wage plan Bush was bragging about? Check
this out. Sure Bush said he would support it - that is, an increase of $1 an hour - but only if states could opt out of the increase. The Associated Press described this as "a condition that could render a proposed increase meaningless."

So when he says he supported raising the minimum wage, he actually meant he supported raising the minimum wage provided that conditions were put in place so that nobody would actually raise the minimum wage.

To be fair, there's a fine line between supporting something and pretending to support it but working behind the scenes to make sure that it'll never happen. So let there be no doubt: George W. Bush supports raising the minimum wage (not).

9 Bipartisanship of Fools
Lest we forget, bipartisanship was a big theme in 2000 with both George W. Bush and Al Gore bending over backwards to demonstrate who could be first into bed with their opponents. Obviously it didn't quite pan out that way after the election.

Towards the end of the night, moderator Bob Schieffer asked Senator Kerry, "After 9/11 ... it seemed to me that the country came together as I've never seen it come together since World War II. But some of that seems to have melted away. I think it's fair to say we've become pretty polarized, perhaps because of the political season. But if you were elected president, or whoever is elected president, will you set a priority in trying to bring the nation back together? Or what would be your attitude on that?"

"Very much so," responded Kerry. "Let me pay a compliment to the president, if I may. I think in those days after 9/11, I thought the president did a terrific job. And I really was moved, as well as impressed, by the speech that he gave to the Congress. And I think the hug Tom Daschle gave him at that moment was about as genuine a sense of there being no Democrats, no Republicans, we were all just Americans. That's where we were."

Ready for the smackdown?

"That's not where we are today. I regret to say that the president who called himself a uniter, not a divider, is now presiding over the most divided America in the recent memory of our country. I've never seen such ideological squabbles in the Congress of the United States. I've never seen members of a party locked out of meetings the way they're locked out today. We have to change that. And as president, I am committed to changing that."

Once again, Dubya had nothing but excuses.

"My biggest disappointment in Washington is how partisan the town is," he whined. "I had a record of working with Republicans and Democrats as the governor of Texas, and I was hopeful I'd be able to do the same thing. And we made good progress early on. The No Child Left Behind Act, incredibly enough, was good work between me and my administration and people like Senator Ted Kennedy."

Bravo! See how Bush brought up Sen. Kennedy to prove that he's been working to foster bipartisanship? I guess it makes a nice change from using Kennedy's name as a laugh-line during campaign stops:

THE PRESIDENT: The nonpartisan National Journal analyzed his record and named John Kerry the most liberal member of the United States Senate.


THE PRESIDENT: Now, that's saying when the competition is people like Ted Kennedy. (Laughter.)

- Wisconsin, October 7, 2004

THE VICE PRESIDENT: That was so far out even Ted Kennedy wouldn't support it. (Laughter.)

- Iowa, October 12, 2004

THE VICE PRESIDENT: He did manage to offer up an amendment to cut several billion dollars out of our intelligence budget, a move that was so radical even Ted Kennedy wouldn't support it. (Laughter.)

- Pennsylvania, October 13, 2004

PRESIDENT BUSH: I'll tell you what pay-go means when you're a senator from Massachusetts, when you're a colleague of Ted Kennedy - pay-go means you pay and he goes ahead and spends.

- Arizona, October 14, 2004



THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ted Kennedy is the most conservative senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter.) If you can believe that. (Applause.)

- Pennsylvania, October 14, 2004

THE PRESIDENT: Another group known as the Americans for Democratic Action has given Senator Kerry a higher lifetime liberal rating than that given to Ted Kennedy. And that's an accomplishment. (Laughter.)

- Oregon, October 15, 2004

You know, I'm trying to figure out why Bush has been a divider not a uniter, and I can't quite put my finger on it.

While we're on the subject of bipartisanship, Bush got a tad defensive during the debate when John Kerry mentioned that he would "work with my friend, John McCain, to further campaign finance reform so we get these incredible amounts of money out of the system and open it up to average people."

"My opponent keeps mentioning John McCain," responded Dubya, "and I'm glad he did. John McCain is for me for president (sic)."

He sure is - and as you can see from this photo, George isn't going to let McCain out of his sight until the election is over.

Photo: Associated Press

Doesn't he look delighted to be there?

In the last week...

Michael "Son of Colin" Powell, chairman of the FCC, announced that he would not stop the Sinclair Broadcast Group from using the public airwaves to broadcast a blatantly biased political "documentary" on John Kerry just days before the election. However, the documentary does feature interviews with members of the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, so if it ends up going ahead perhaps Michael Powell will fine stations for putting a bunch of tits on the air.

According to the New York Times, "employees of Sproul & Associates (operating under the name Voters Outreach of America), a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations." And guess what? A district court judge subsequently denied any requests to re-open voter registration. GOP motto: If you can't beat 'em, cheat 'em.

Perhaps George W. Bush should have taken a tip from Sen. Jim Bunning, who recently refused to debate his opponent face-to-face, responded to questions via satellite, and used a TelePrompTer. Although let's face it, even if Bush had done this, he still would have lost.

Treasury Secretary John Snow said, "I wonder if the 4 million Americans who have fallen into poverty in the last four years, I wonder if that is a myth." You've heard of Fantasy Football, now meet Fantasy Leadership.

More than 250 former and current world leaders made an "unprecedented statement" reaffirming their commitment to "a ten-year-old UN plan to ensure the rights of women around the world" last week. George W. Bush "declined to sign on to the statement."

Team Bush's New England campaign chairman has resigned after being accused of jamming Democrats' telephone lines on Election Day 2002, thus preventing a "get out the vote" effoort. James Tobin said, "The Democrats' allegations against me are without merit." In case you missed it, two other prominent Republicans pleaded guilty to conspiracy over this issue last summer.

Jeb Bush has "ignored advice to throw out a flawed felon voter list [see Top Ten 163] before it went out to county election offices despite warnings from state officials ... Most were Democrats, and many were black. Hispanics, who often vote Republican in Florida, were almost entirely absent from the list due to a technical error." It's deja vu all over again...

The Pentagon continued their weekly Friday-night release of George W. Bush's military records, even though they've all been released already.

The Transportation Security Administration spent nearly $500,000 dollars on an awards ceremony at a lavish hotel, "including $81,000 for plaques and $500 for cheese displays." Winner of the award for Biggest Waste of Taxpayers Money - the Transportation Security Administration.

George H.W. Bush argued that his son should be re-elected at a GOP rally. He also commented on the anti-Bush protestors outside, calling them "the worst-looking group of people I've ever seen," and referring to a female protestor as "A really ugly woman. She had a sign up that said, 'Stay out of my womb.'" Bush then made a hand-gesture "as if to deny he would ever go near her."

John Kerry said that there is "a great potential" that the draft will return if George W. Bush is re-elected. Team Bush dismissed the comments as "the mother of all cheap political scare tactics." Speaking of "the mother of all cheap political scare tactics," whatever happened to Saddam Hussein's deadly stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction?

And finally, Bill O'Reilly was slapped with a lawsuit by a former employee who claims that O'Reilly "subjected her to repeated instances of sexual harassment and spoke often, and explicitly, to her about phone sex, vibrators, threesomes, masturbation, the loss of his virginity, and sexual fantasies." Apparently O'Reilly's fantasies even include some time in the shower with... falafel? See you next week!