There aren’t too many states in the union redder than Montana. George Bush won the state by more than 20 points in November. The state legislature and governorship in the capital, Helena, have been in GOP hands for 16 years. Sparsely-populated Montana is represented by only one congressman, the far-right Rep. Denny Rehberg, and by two senators, an ultra-conservative Republican (Conrad Burns) and a conservative Democrat (Max Baucus) who often votes with the Republicans. The state’s electoral votes are conceded so automatically to the GOP that neither party’s candidate campaigns there. Culturally, with the exception of a few rich Hollywood types who weekend in places like Big Sky, the state could hardly be further from the metro-cosmopolitan culture of the coasts. To give but one example, Montana has the highest percentage of hunters of any state in the union. But in November, a Democrat, Brian Schweitzer, won the state’s race for governor.
On August 11, John Kerry criticized the Bush Administration for blocking a bipartisan plan to give seniors access to lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada. With almost 80 percent of Medicare recipients supporting Kerry’s position, the Bush campaign was faced with the prospect of defending a politically unpopular position. That same day, in an interview with the Associated Press, FDA Acting Commissioner Lester Crawford said terrorist “cues from chatter” led him to believe Al Qaeda may try to attack Americans by contaminating imported prescription drugs. Crawford refused to provide any details to substantiate his claims.
For most Americans, the last four years have represented a low point in our economic history. But for the big-business interests financing the Bush campaign, these have been high times. In previous eras, and even under previous Republican administrations, corporate America was one of a number of players in the public-policy arena. But under the Bush administration, big business is both the player and the referee, having finally won its decades-long campaign to eliminate the boundary between executive suite and public office. No longer does the private-profit motive compete in the legislative process with public good; profit now owns the process, and the middle class is left to the vultures.
Two decades ago, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was a highly respected financial titan. In 1987, when its subsidiary helped finance a deal involving Texas oilman George W. Bush, the bank appeared to be a reputable institution, with attractive branch offices, a traveler’s check business, and a solid reputation for financing international trade. It had high-powered allies in Washington and boasted relationships with respected figures around the world. All that changed in early 1988, when John Kerry, then a young senator from Massachusetts, decided to probe the finances of Latin American drug cartels.
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