For months, the president of the United States has been a fixture on WCAX-TV. Almost every evening, usually right before Marselis Parsons and Sera Congi, Vermont viewers have heard from George W. Bush, the leader of the free world.
You've seen him, too: "I'm George W. Bush and I approved this message."
And what's the message?
John Kerry doesn't care about sick grandmas.
John Kerry doesn't care about pregnant women.
John Kerry doesn't care about our troops.
John Kerry doesn't show up for work.
John Kerry's a piece of shit!
This week a study by Nielsen Monitor-Plus and the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project revealed the Bush-Cheney Campaign has not been advertising its upbeat, forward-thinking commercials coast-to-coast. Nobody in the Big Apple has seen them. We in Vermont are truly blessed!
In fact, most Americans have not had the pleasure of watching Bush's 30-second attack ads. Rather, they've been targeted at key markets, so-called "Battleground States," especially Ohio and Missouri.
So why Vermont?
After all, the "battle" in the most liberal state in the nation has long been over. John Kerry and John Edwards will get Vermont's three electoral votes. It won't be close.
So maybe the GOP is using WCAX-TV to reach New York voters across the pond?
New York voters, after all, elected Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Senate. New York is in the Kerry column, too.
That leaves one explanation. The Bush-Cheney campaign is writing big checks to WCAX-TV because they want their "message" to be seen and heard across the Connecticut River on New Hampshire television screens. Ch. 3's signal is picked up in at least three New Hampshire counties: Grafton, Sullivan and Coos. Marsillyiss and Sera reach 40,000 to 50,000 Granite State households.
In 2000, Bush-Cheney carried New Hampshire by 17,211 votes over Gore-Lieberman. Ralph Nader pulled 22,198 votes.
Had Gore carried the Granite State, folks, Vermont National Guardsmen would not be dying in Iraq, and the United States would not be viewed by long-standing allies as a violent, dangerous, isolationist superpower run amok.
Bush TV ads have also been airing on Vermont's NBC affiliates: WPTZ-TV in Plattsburgh and WNNE-TV in White River Junction. And, of course, on WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire. All three stations are owned by the Hearst-Argyle chain.
WPTZ General Manager Paul Sands declined to tell Seven Days over the phone just how much Bush money has been dropped on his doorstep.
The amount is public record. However, one must physically visit the specific station in order to examine the political ad-buy records. Yours truly didn't have the legs to bike to Plattsburgh on Monday, but WCAX's Corporate HQ on Joy Drive is within our reach.
We found 15 photocopied checks that the Bush-Cheney Campaign has written to Stuart "Red" Martin's Vermont TV shop since March 4. The total: $350,866.65.
Even if you deduct Red Martin's generous personal contributions to the GOP, it's still hefty.
According to FEC records, WCAX's Martin contributed $2000 to the Republican National Committee on May 17 and another $2000 (the max allowed) to the Bush-Cheney Campaign on June 24.
For the last few months, Vermont viewers have been doused by the waterfall of negative Bush campaign commercials.
After about a dozen viewings, the real message of the Bush TV ad/propaganda campaign sinks in:
George W. Bush is the worst president the United States of America has ever had. No president has been able to screw up so much so fast. In his ads, Mr. Bush doesn't say one word about himself.
To do so would be the equivalent of a concession speech.
Instead, Bush's message is all about the other guy, the candidate who, unlike himself, didn't use daddy's connections to duck Vietnam duty.
Let's face it. When you've lied to the American people this much, you just can't stop on a dime.
Only a cornered skunk would spray such a putrid shower across America's TV screens. But if the fur fits, you've got to wear it.
World Trade Shakeup -- Seven Days has learned that the Douglas Administration is closing down the Vermont World Trade Office. Executive Director Brad Broadwell said that in a Friday meeting, Secretary of Commerce Kevin Dorn informed him "that my services will no longer be needed."
The VWTO -- http://www.vermontworldtrade. org -- was created to promote Vermont products in international markets. In addition, three other employees will be losing their jobs by year's end, said Broadwell.
The VWTO is funded by federal grants and $100,000 in state funds. Broadwell's salary is the only one paid by the state.
Two years ago, Brad worked as a fundrais er for the Douglas campaign.
In a Seven Days interview on Tuesday, Sec. Dorn confirmed he had a meeting with Broadwell on Friday, but denied he had given him the hook.
"No, I didn't fire Brad Broadwell," said Dorn.
Informed that Broadwell thinks differently, Dorn replied, "I can't talk about a personnel matter."
The commerce secretary went on to say that he could tell us, "There's going to be movement on international trade in the next few months."
Pressed on whether that movement involves the dismissal of VWTO Director Broadwell, Dorn said, "There is not going to be a World Trade Office as it is right now. The function's going to continue in-house."
Broadwell told Seven Days he's been told to wrap things up and shut down the office by the end of the year.
State Sen. Matt Dunne (D-Windsor), who has made economic development his premier issue, told Seven Days he was "surprised and disappointed" that the members of the Senate's economic development committee had not been either "notified or consulted" before the Douglas administration decided to get rid of the World Trade Office.
Sen. Dunne is in line to chair the Senate's Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee next session.
Somebody Lied -- Life goes on. But, like a pebble in the shoe of the mind, we sense a lingering, uncomfortable awareness of the violent, unstable world and its direct connection to Vermont.
That connection is only enhanced when we see L. Paul Bremer choosing Chester, Vermont, as the one spot on Earth he wants to call home. The Bush administration's former top administrator of the Iraq occupation now sits on a Vermont front porch and watches the world go by.
But a much stronger connection was in the news last week as 1300 members of the Vermont National Guard were getting their wills in order and preparing family and friends for the worst.
Also last week, Gov. Douglas held his first press conference in a couple weeks. What a coincidence. There was a little catching up to do.
In the interim, the Senate Intelligence Committee had released a bipartisan report explaining how the Bush administration managed to lead our country to war based on lies and falsehoods that passed for fact.
Here we go again, eh?
If our War in Vietnam has one lesson, it is that "supporting the troops" means a hell of a lot more than attaching bumper stickers or magnetic yellow ribbons to one's gas guzzler. The bull's-eye lesson from Vietnam is that "supporting the troops," each and every one of them, means standing up against leaders who would have them crippled, maimed and killed in the name of their lies.
Presidents both Democratic and Republican told us back then that the Vietnamese communists in their black pajamas were a serious threat to the world's greatest superpower. If we didn't stop them in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, our presidents argued, we'd soon be stopping them on the beaches of California.
Unfortunately, it took more than 58,000 American deaths and millions of Vietnamese deaths to fully expose the Big Lie. In the end it was the voice of Vietnam veterans like John Kerry that won out.
Just like Vietnam, the dirty secret is that our brave countrymen and women in Iraq are not protecting the safety and security of the United States. If anything, the Bush-Cheney administration's priapic Iraq invasion has lit the fuse on a 21st-century powderkeg of clashing civilizations, cultures and religions.
As Vice-President Cheney might put it, "Folks, this is one big fucking mess!"
In Iraq today, the American death toll is approaching 1000. More than 5000 have been wounded. But, unlike with Vietnam, we don't have to wait another eight years for a Daniel Ellsberg to leak the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times. The Big Lie about Iraq is already officially published and exposed. It's available online at http://www.intelligence.senate.gov.
Vermont has, as usual, made its voice heard. Our entire congressional delegation saw through the Big Bush Lie and stood against it. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Jim Jeffords and Rep. Bernie Sanders proved they are among the best friends our troops have on Capitol Hill.
To find the highest elected Vermont official who supported the Bush-Cheney war, one must turn to our first-term Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.
Gov. Scissorhands tends not to mention the president's name unless forced to respond to a question. However, he has marched in lockstep with Mr. Bush on the justification and need to march America to war.
Asked if he would now concede he was wrong when he repeated the presidential lies, Douglas got his back up.
"I reject the notion that I lied to you," said the Guv. "The president was also, in my view, exonerated by this report in that there was no suggestion that he said anything untrue to the best of his knowledge, or intentionally misled the American people."
Douglas conveniently ignored the fact that Part II of the Senate Intelligence Committee report is focusing on that very subject. But Part II isn't going to be completed until after the November election.
By then, Jim Douglas will have a much clearer picture of what he'll be doing next year. And so will George W. Bush.
Circ Update -- The battle was won in federal court by the environmentalists, but the war over the Circum-ferential Highway continues.
Attorney Brian Dunkiel has written the state to seek information on what he suggests is an attempt to illegally spend federal highway money on what was deemed to be an illegal project. Dunkiel also wonders why the state hasn't shown any desire to work with the environmentalists in developing a new, legally acceptable Environmental Impact Statement.
"It's a unique situation," Dunkiel told Seven Days, "because of the years of the state ignoring the law and the concerns of the environmental community."
Vermont's Princess of Roads, Transportation Sec. Patricia McDonald, scoffs at Dunkiel's charges. She said the judge's order is not retroactive and insisted that spending on already completed Circ construction and property acquisition is totally legit.
McDonald also told Seven Days she disagrees with the suggestion that "project opponents are entitled to participate in the selection of a new environmental consultant."
Nice to see everyone's learned from the past and is finally getting along, eh?
Freeps News -- Reporter Steve Kiernan is departing in mid-August. The Middlebury grad is off to write a book for St. Martin's Press about the new way of dying in America. Thirty years ago we died fast -- heart attacks and strokes. Today we die slow.
Incidentally, we suggested Steve donate a small portion of his book contract proceeds to Freeps Publisher Jim Carey so Carey can finally buy a light to shine on the paper's American flag at night.
C'mon Jim, how about a little respect for Old Glory?
Vermont Girlie Men? -- California's Republican actor/governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is under fire for referring to certain Democratic legislators as gutless "girlie men." The line comes from an old "Saturday Night Live" skit.
It made us wonder if we had any potential "girlie men" in Vermont politics. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack McMullen comes to mind first.
McMullen issued a press release over the weekend announcing he had attended a Little League baseball game and gave candy to children.
"McMullen had a wonderful chance to mingle with the community," read the release. "Handing out hot dogs and bubble gum to the kids at the concession stand, McMullen commented, 'This is definitely the best part of campaigning.'"
Doesn't Jack know those kids aren't old enough to vote?
As Marselis Parsons put it when he skeptically questioned Sen. Leahy on Sunday's "You Can Quote Me," "If it's a major race, don't you think the Republicans would have found a better candidate than Jack McMul-len?"
Sounds like Mr. Parsons considers Mr. McMullen a girlie man, eh?
Hairy News -- No question, if the election were about hair, the two Johns, Kerry and Edwards, would win in a landslide.
John Kerry almost has too much hair. We've heard of $150 haircuts. What, do they charge by the strand?
Can't do that in Burlington. In fact, there's been a recent major development on the local men's hair scene.
Three of Vermont's best scissorhands, not to be confused with "stylists" or "beauticians," have bolted from Ron Corey's lower College Street shop and set up their own men's barber shop around the corner at 72 Main Street.
After 15 year's at Ron's, Teri Sheehan told Seven Days it was time for a change. Susan Bowles and Tsering Yanki went with her. The best of the best. They know how to take sharp objects to guys' heads.
As Teri put it, "Everybody's head is different."
John Kerry, for example, is a candidate for hair "reduction," she said.
Maybe he could give the leftovers to Pat Leahy or Bernie Sanders or Peter Clavelle? A little cut and paste.
Barber Sheehan thinks American presidents should be "required" to have hair on their heads.
We didn't ask about chests or other locations.
P.S. Unfortunately, Verizon screwed up big-time and failed to list Main Street Barbers number in the brand-new Verizon phone book. It's 863-5100.
And, no. I'm not dating a barber, and I don't get a free cut for mentioning this. Just the usual excellent one, thank you. And they're only 12 bucks. Less for older gents.