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Lost in Cyberspace

Hypocrisy Online

© 1999 by H.B. Koplowitz

You know what, I started out to write this rant defending the compassionate conservative governor of Texas, George W. Bush <www.georgewbush.com>. I was going to say he shouldn't have to answer whether he ever did cocaine. That it's just another Monicagate, that politicians of both parties and the reporters who cover them have all fooled around in one way or another, and they are all hypocrites.

I was going to say that as Bush, 52, is the frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination for president, the rumors of his doing cocaine at his dad's presidential inauguration would inevitably be dredged up by the media. And that it was no different from what he has already acknowledged, hard drinking and womanizing into his 30s. No different from Al Gore's <www.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/OVP> acknowledged youthful experiments with pot in his dorm room at Harvard.

And I was going to point out how the media, instead of investigating Bush's stand on abortion, the death penalty, the minimum wage, national health care, or his lack of stands ("George W. Bush on the Issues," issues2000.org/George_W__Bush.htm), is investigating his private life. Then I was going to say I thought there ought to be a don't-ask-don't-tell policy regarding private indiscretions. That reporters shouldn't ask and candidates shouldn't tell about their private lives unless they impact on their public duties.

I was even going to say that nobody really cares whether George Dubyuh tooted snow till his toes curled. That I used to think it would be better to have somebody in the White House who has smoked pot and had sex out of wedlock, someone who has been around and has some understanding of life. But that as guys like J. Edgar Hoover, Roy Cohn and Slick Willy illustrate, straights have no monopoly on hypocrisy. That having partied, protested and played around has no bearing on one's political orientation, or is it preference. And how ironic that it turns out the personal really ISN'T the political.

Finally, I was going to point out the supreme irony of how just when it seemed the otherwise Viagra-starved Democratic candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley <www.billbradley.com> might get a boost from the anti-Starr backlash vote, who does the privacy issue end up accruing to, but George Dubyuh.

But then I ran across a gadfly Web site called gwbush.com. Last December, Zack Exley, a 29-year-old Boston computer consultant, noticed that Bush's Presidential Exploratory Committee had reserved the rights to the Internet address www.georgewbush.com, but not www.gwbush.com, Dubyuh's other preferred nom de plume. Sometimes called cybersquatting, Exley purchased the rights to www.gwbush.com, hoping the Bush campaign would buy the rights from him and he might make a few grand off the deal.

Exley hooked up with some creative satirists and it became a prank Web site with a tiny audience of a few hundred fans. Only instead of ignoring the site or buying Exley out, the Bush campaign overreacted. First it tried to take legal action against Exley, and then it bought 260 other possible Bush-related Internet addresses, including bushsux.org and bushblows.com. Of course online newspapers picked up the story, including "The New York Times," "USA Today" and ABCNews.com. The site started getting thousands of hits a day and Exley found himself with a national forum for his views.

The Web site rehashes the story about how George W. didn't go to Vietnam but instead became a pilot with the Texas National Guard. But mostly it needles him for having possibly done drugs when he now presides over a state with some of the most draconian drug laws in the nation.

In a running satire, the site has "news" stories about Gov. Bush turning himself in for past drug crimes to "usher in the responsibility era," and in an effort to get state law to square with his own experience, raising the age at which juveniles can be tried as adults to 40. Funny stuff, but the site also points out that in the real Texas, the real Gov. Bush signed legislation lowering the age at which minors can be tried as adults to 14.

But the part that really got to me was that as the fictional Gov. Bush sits in jail, awaiting trial for past drug crimes, the site has solicited "letters of solidarity" from real prison inmates.

"Boy, do I feel your pain," writes an inmate in Seagoville, Texas. "I'm doing my time for youthful indiscretions: experimenting with pot. Though the '80s do seem so long ago!"

In Texas and across the country, hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders continue to be housed in overcrowded federal and state prisons, doing 10, 20, even life sentences, sometimes for the same things presidential candidates, even presidents, have done. So you know what, maybe it is germane to ask not just George W. Bush, but all the candidates running for every office, did you ever do an illegal drug, and if so, how come you get to be out here, and they have to be in there?
 

copyright 2000 by H.B. Koplowitz, all rights reserved.


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