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SOTU: He's Out of Gas; We Can't Handle the Truth

02/01/2006 10:28 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Well, what did you expect -- an Oprah confessional?

The biggest fabulist to set foot in the White House since Walt Disney went to Washington to collect the Medal of Freedom in 1964 was not about to tell you anything like the truth.

Start with the headline: America's addicted to oil. Well, who'd know better than a guy who got $2.6 million in campaign contributions from the oil industry in '04?

But sure: we're addicted. If the rest of the world ate and farmed as the United States does, all known global fossil-fuel reserves would be exhausted in 7 years. That's crazy! But hey, that's a scientist talking -- in the Bush chain of being, he's lower on the scale of knowledge than the lowest Republican foot soldier. So, let's change the classification of SUVs from cars to trucks so they can legally get away with their crummy gas mileage. Keep the price of gas low so Detroit can build bigger -- that is, more profitable -- cars. And that's just the tip of what Bush has done to prolong and intensify the addiction.

The day after Exxon reports record profits, the President discovers we're addicted to gas? A howler. But then, consider the verb. And then consider the speaker. The addict is always the last to know.

This disconnect between rhetoric and reality -- this breathtaking screw-you to the facts and logic and history and common sense -- would be shocking if it were not the very hallmark of this administration. It's reflex, really. They lie about everything. They lie even when they don't have to. (Alternative theory: His aides craft lies and tell Bush they're the truth, and he's so stupid and/or lazy he buys it and goes out and sells their nonsense with total conviction.)

Why does this White House lie? In part because it's full of ideologues. Big picture guys. Spinners of tall tales, dreamers of big dreams, banging on about "freedom" while -- just out of camera range -- their pals are getting filthy rich. But it's also because they disrespect their fellow citizens in fundamental ways. And why not: Half of us read at the 8th-grade level. Half -- the same half, I say -- doesn't buy evolution. We're children. We can't handle the truth.

So the words flow by, the Republicans cheer, Chris Matthews is thrilled anew by the way he leans into the lectern. Well, parse this, suckers:

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research, human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos.

Human-animal hybrids. Terrible idea! A half-man, half-ape would shed all over the couch. And have mad crazy dreams. Like equal rights. Soon these hybrids would have the Dems proposing legislation that would allow human-animal/human marriage. Think of it -- an ape-by-proxy going horizontal with your sister. Hold the line, George!

Small point: Can you name a scientist who is speaking in favor of human-animal hybrids? Me neither.

But there I go, taking him seriously, getting riled up. This is Year 6. I should know better. The boy in the bubble is a cartoon president, with a bubble over his head: Believe this at your peril.

Here's what Bush might have said, had he wanted to tell us the truth: In order to save Republicans from defeat in the fall elections, there will be a major troop withdrawal from Iraq in September and October. (Cause for concern: American troops having to fight their way from the Green Zone to the airport might not look like triumph.) The cupboard is bare. We're broke. If we have to fight a war on a second front, we'll be calling for firemen and cops. We can't stop another 9/11, so we've teed it up for the Fox crowd to believe that the terrorists get their marching orders from coded messages in New York Times editorials.

The truth is even worse, really: The President who used 9/11 as Santa Claus -- well, what didn't he get from Congress? -- could use another infusion of terror. His approval rating is stuck at 39%. The liberal blogosphere forced 25 senators to vote to filibuster the Alito Supreme Court nomination. Anything he sends to Congress now is doomed. On the evidence of his speech last night, he has no realistic initiatives he thinks he can sell us. A "commission" on health care? DOA.

But another terror attack! With one bomb, one grand bit of al-Qaeda theatrics, the most divisive president in our history could assume near-dictatorial powers. I'm not saying he prays for this attack -- that's obscene. But you damn well know the plans have been drawn up what to do if and when. And, of course, who to blame.

Blame. That's the key word. Hold it ever in mind. Because if you're reading this and nodding agreement in any way....that finger's eventually gonna point at y-o-u. Count on it. That's the real, surly, ugly message of an otherwise ho-hum speech.