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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bush has some nerve lecturing Putin
By MAUREEN DOWDSYNDICATED COLUMNIST


WASHINGTON -- It was remarkable to see President Bush lecture Vladimir Putin on the importance of checks and balances in a democratic society.

Remarkably brazen, given that the only checks Bush seems to believe in are those written to the "journalists" Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Karen Ryan, the fake TV anchor, to help promote his policies. The administration has given a whole new meaning to checkbook journalism, paying a stupendous $97 million to an outside PR firm to buy columnists and produce propaganda, including faux video news releases.

The only balance W. likes is the slavering, Pravda-like "fair and balanced" coverage Fox News provides. Bush pledges to spread democracy while his officials strive to create a Potemkin press village at home. This White House seems to prefer softball questions from a self-advertised male escort with a fake name to hardball questions from journalists with real names; it prefers tossing journalists who protect their sources into the gulag to giving up the officials who broke the law by leaking the name of their own CIA agent.

W., who once looked into Putin's soul and liked what he saw, did not demand the end of tyranny, as he did in his second Inaugural address. His upper lip sweating a bit, he did not rise to the level of his hero Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Instead, he said that "the common ground is a lot more than those areas where we disagree." The Russians were happy to stress the common ground, as well.

An irritated Putin compared the Russian system with the American Electoral College, perhaps reminding the man preaching to him about democracy that he had come in second in 2000 according to the popular vote, the standard most democracies use.

More at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/213878_dowd01.html

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