The Hightower Report

The comprehensive energy bill is comprehensive theft; and put on your burqua -- the Taliban is back.

The Return of the Taliban

They're back. The Taliban. Remember them -- the repressive and murderous regime of religious fanatics that ruled Afghanistan and shielded Osama bin Laden?

You might remember, too, that George W. promised only a couple of years ago that he was going to bomb the Taliban to smithereens, "smoke out" ol' Osama, and "liberate" the people of Afghanistan -- using U.S. military might to usher in a bright new day of democracy for this forlorn land.

But only 18 months after being ousted by Bush's bombs and our troops -- heeeeeerrre comes the Taliban right back in, having revived its command structure and begun to reassert its brutish power over the people. Prior to going to war with the Taliban, the Bushites had loudly proclaimed that they were not just going in with bombs, but afterward would deliver on a plan for reconstruction of the nation's infrastructure. Notice that this is the same thing the Bushites have now promised to the Iraqi people.

One of the top leaders of the new government that the Bushites set up after the Afghan war now says: "What was promised to the Afghans with the collapse of the Taliban was a new life of hope and change. But what was delivered? Nothing."

Indeed, Bush bolted for Baghdad. Meanwhile, instead of a flowering democracy in Afghanistan, thieving warlords and a rise of Taliban vigilantism is the rule of the day. The Bushites had promised millions of dollars to create a local police authority that could stabilize the country, but these police went unpaid for months and have drifted away.

Interestingly, the Taliban launched its comeback from safe havens in neighboring Pakistan. You might recall that Pakistan, itself ruled by a brutal military dictator, is warmly welcomed by the Bushites as an "ally" in their perpetual global crusade against "evildoers." What a sticky web they weave.

Bombs alone can't bring democracy -- whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, or whatever other country is next on Bush's list.

Energetic Thieves

Whenever you hear that Washington is moving forward with "comprehensive" legislation to do this or that ... it means that some larger theft than usual is under way.

Beware, then, the "comprehensive energy bill" that the White House is now trying to -- choo-choo cha-boogie! -- railroad through the legislative system. This boondoggle even comes wrapped in the flag, as the Bushites try to capitalize on their military victory over Saddam by claiming that America's "energy independence" is dependent on this glob of special-interest gimmies.

Buried in it are $18.7 billion in tax subsidies for ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, and the other global oil and gas giants and for the electric-utility greedheads that keep raising our rates as they pollute our air. The congressional sponsors use Orwellian terms to make it seem as though they are working in the public interest by taking actions that "streamline," bring "balance," provide "relief," allow "flexibility," and otherwise do good things -- when in fact they're just engaged in the same old special-interest gotcha.

For example:

Their bill would allow oil corporations to escape paying taxes they owe to We the People on gas they take out of the Gulf of Mexico.

It would let the federal government overrule states that dare tell utilities they can't run electric power lines through your land or community.

It would make it harder for you local citizens, farmers, environmentalists, and others to stop utilities that want to flood your area with hydroelectric dams.

It would cut the royalties that these energy giants pay to us taxpayers to take the oil and gas from our public lands.

It would let coal companies escape paying the health benefits of mine workers who've worked hard all their lives and come up with lungs full of killer coal dust.

And the bill would open all of America's coastal water to oil and gas drilling.

This isn't an energy bill at all -- it's highway robbery. To stop it, call Public Citizen: 202/588-1000.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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comprehensive energy bill, George W. Bush, Saddam, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Public Citizen, Taliban, Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan

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