Somewhere in Harlem (if he's finally shown up for work) or in India (if he's still riding elephants), Bill Clinton is having a great belly laugh right now. He pulled yet another fast one on America, and it's working to perfection.
After Al Gore lost (and lost and lost and lost) the Y2K election, and with his typical grasp of the rule of law and the niceties of political combat at the ready, Clinton pulled a big set of pranks on George W. Bush. In between last-minute pardons for donors, he let fly a barrage of secretive executive orders, many dealing with costly new environmental regulations. When Bush failed to go along with the joke, our discerning national press corps reacted as if the new president had set fire to the White House lawn.
Helen Thomas -- our supposedly retired reporting Rasputin (when will she go away?) -- put the liberal media spin succinctly: "Mr. President, in the last few weeks you have rolled back health and safety and environmental measures proposed by the last administration and other previous administrations. This has been widely interpreted as a payback time to your corporate donors. Are they more important than the American people's health and safety, and what else do you plan to repeal?"
Other reporters seconded that emotion, often reading from liberal press releases. ABC reporter/publicist Linda Douglass declared with utter solemnity that "The Sierra Club calls President Bush's latest moves on the environment 'March Madness.''' On NBC, Campbell Brown pouted, "Tonight critics of this administration say the president has declared war on the environment, working at lightning speed to undo what President Clinton did."
After all this sky-is-falling journalism, Newsweek announced that Bush's approval rating on the environment was dropping. Now there's a shock.
Reporters with any shred of interest in balance would have assessed the arguments of both sides instead of merely repeating the purple press release passages of the loony left.
Is it a dramatic "rollback" to fail to institute a radical change in microscopic arsenic standards that haven't changed in 50 years? Why is this suddenly so important? Who's dropped dead from water poisoned by arsenic lately? And if it is so important, why didn't Clinton do anything about it in eight years in office?
No one's asking these simple questions. And by leaving the field to the environmental wackos, they're giving the clear impression to the American people that Bush favors a looser, and therefore more dangerous arsenic standard than the one we presently have, when the truth is just the opposite.
Pressies continue to pound Bush for dropping out of the Kyoto "global warming" treaty. Earth to the media elite: Did Clinton ever fake a more worthless gesture than signing the Kyoto treaty? Even the Democrats in the Senate -- unanimously! -- let it be known they would refuse to pass it, which is why the administration never even bothered to send it over. Even if the horrible thing passed, huge polluters like China would be completely exempt from any emissions limits, so identifying the net environmental gain would be about as easy as finding this alleged forthcoming epidemic of arsenic poisoning.
Then there's the constant Common Cause McCarthyism: Bush's moves to "repeal" environmental "protection" are inspired by the greedy polluters who funded his campaign. Throughout the Clinton years, if you attacked the president, immediately you were labeled a "Clinton hater" and denounced as one who should not be allowed to make reckless charges of lackadaisical ethics without evidence.
But on the Bush watch the rules are reversed. Attack from the left on the environment, and you're wrapped immediately in the cloth of altruism. Proof? Who needs it. The charge is as good as a conviction.
When Newt Gingrich's Republican majority swept into Washington, the Sierra Club and their for-profit public relations agents at the networks professed shock -- private lobbyists are advising the GOP on environmental policy! But when the Democrats ran the House, and left-wing radicals at the Sierra Club and Greenpeace were setting legislative policy, not a word was said or written about private lobbyists writing the laws.
This defines the liberal perspective that dominates the news media. Business represents the private interest, the profit motive: Selfish Greed. The leave-no-tree-behind environmental extremists, on the other hand, automatically are the "public interest."
Who really has the public's best interest at heart? If new arsenic standards cost millions of dollars per estimated life saved theoretically, who has a better grasp on common sense? If a "global warming" treaty shackles our own economic growth with zero net environmental benefit for the world, who's really putting America's public interest first?
The answers to these questions are easy, which explains why Clinton's friends in the media won't ask the questions.