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"I got everything. I don't know what the poor people got, but the rich people are happy and I'm ready to go home." -- Florida sugar lobbyist J.M. Stipanovich, a close friend of Jeb Bush who worked closely with Katherine Harris in the 2000 Florida recounts

"Inside the Bush White House, 'diversity' means having a president and a vice president who come from two entirely different energy companies." -- Eric Alterman and Mark Green

"But wow! This goofy child president we have on our hands now. He is demonstrably a fool and a failure, and this is only the summer of '03. The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse... The Bush family must be very proud of themselves today, but I am not. Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it." -- Hunter S. Thompson, quoted by Buzzflash

"The Bush administration's fundamental problem is that it has substituted ideology for practicality and loyalty for competence at every turn. It's running the country like a business, all right. Unfortunately, that business is Enron, combining fantastical theories and astonishing greed. Because the Republicans also control both houses of Congress and have voted in lockstep on virtually every key issue, partisan dogma has taken precedence above all competing values. The result has been mismanagement and incompetence on an heroic scale: ignoring the terrorist threat until 9/11 because al-Qaeda was a 'Clinton issue,' driving the country into war in Iraq by conjuring imaginary nuclear 'mushroom clouds,' forcing the retirement of military leaders (e.g., Gen. Eric Shinseki) who warned that pacifying Iraq would require hundreds of thousands more troops than neo-conservative theory dictated, getting rid of a treasury secretary (Paul O'Neill) who correctly predicted that the war would cost tens of billions more than White House philosophers dreamed, rejecting detailed State Department plans for rebuilding Iraq in favor of pie-in-the-sky schemes to turn the fractured nation into a corporate utopia, turning a $300 billion budget surplus into a $550 billion (and counting) deficit through reckless tax cuts -- such a list could go on almost indefinitely. Slashing FEMA's budget and replacing its experienced professional staff with hacks and cronies wasn't a mistake; it was absolutely characteristic of the Bush administration's vision of government as a partisan spoils system. Even worse than its reliance upon abstract ideology has been the White House's remarkable inability to admit error. Partly due to its Republican-style political correctness, partly to the cult of personality surrounding Bush himself -- his fabled 'gut instincts' were supposed to make up for his manifest intellectual shortcomings -- the administration finds it almost impossible to adjust to altered circumstances. They've created their own reality all right. Alas, the rest of us have to live there, too." -- Gene Lyons

The pro-energy attitude in the Bush administration goes far deeper than what meetings and money can foster. Frederick Palmer of Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal-mining company, says, "We're all on the supply side -- the electric utilities, the coal companies -- and the [Bush] energy plan is basically a supply side plan, but that's not the result of backroom deals or lobbying the vice president. People running the United States government now are from the energy industry." -- quoted by Eric Alterman and Mark Green

All in all, if presidential family connections were theme parks, Bush World would be a sight to behold. Mideast banks tied to the CIA would crowd alongside Florida S&Ls that once laundered money for Nicaraguan contras. Dozens of oil wells would run eternally without finding oil, thanks to periodic cash by old men wearing Reagan-Bush buttons and smoking twenty-dollar cigars. Visitors to 'Prescott Bush's Tokyo' could try to make an investment deal without falling into the clutches of the yakuza, or Japanese mob." -- Kevin Phillips

What the Bush family's protean worldwide network of political and financial connections symbolizes is a system where insiders almost always win and investors often lose. It is a system that encourages neither good government nor responsible business. It's a system that results in wasted capital, squandered or purloined assets, and busted companies. It mocks the conservative notion that free enterprise can operate transparently and fairly in the absence of government regulation. The story of Bush, Inc., is also a warning against a government run by the same insiders whose political and financial fortunes have been built not on free enterprise or "compassionate conservatism," but on the infectious greed of crony capitalism." -- Joe Conason

The Bush family has always downplayed its intimate ties to the Saudi royal family and the Saudi business community. The elder Bush said in 1991 that he didn't even know Saudi power broker and BCCI official Kamal Adham, a former Saudi intelligence chief. Bush lied. In the words of authors Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne, in their book The Outlaw Bank, "The reporters were incredulous. Adham had been the director of Saudi Arabia's equivalent of the CIA in 1976, when George Bush headed the CIA. The American agency had been helping to modernize Saudi intelligence during Bush's tenure, and Kamal had been Saudi Arabia's main liason with the CIA. Even without that connection, the chances were slim to none that George Bush, who was known throughout the Middle East as 'the Saudi Vice President,' and had more first-hand knowledge of the Middle East than any previous US president, didn't know the Sheikh." -- Kevin Phillips

Plenty of Saudis and Gulf state oil sheikhs invested their millions into the Carlyle Group, mostly as a favor to George Bush. Carlyle is also believed to have acted as a gatekeeper for US investors wishing to operate in Saudi Arabia. The ambassador to Saudi Arabia named by the younger Bush in 2001, Robert Jordan, was the Texas lawyer who defended Bush in the 1990 SEC probe of Harken Oil. Jordan is also a partner in Baker Botts, the attorneys for the Carlyle Group. He was sure to do his part to protect Bush family interests in Saudi Arabia. -- Kevin Phillips

George H.W. Bush struck twice at former cronies during his presidency, in Panama (Manuel Noriega) and Iraq (Saddam Hussein). Over the ten years of the 1980s, his web of covert international relationships prompted investigations into his participation in, and covering up of, three interrelated sets of illegalities: the Republican Party's "October Surprise" of 1980, the Iran-Contra scandal, and Iraqgate. Phillips writes, "Two catchphrases recur in the family resume: 'arms deals' and 'clandestine operations.' A third recurring association would be 'cover-up.'" George W. Bush was a willing recipient of his family's inheritance; much of the money that funded his various oil enterprises had BCCI and CIA connections. James Bath, who represented rich Saudi business interests (including the bin Laden family) and who funneled tons of Saudi monies into George W. Bush's oil ventures, had strong connections to BCCI, the bank that operated at times as a CIA front for facilitating arms deals. Bath himself was recruited into the CIA by George H.W. Bush in 1976 in an effort to keep tabs on the Saudis. Harken Oil, who bailed out George W. Bush's crumbling Arbusto Oil, had its own Saudi and CIA connections. Harken chairman Alan Quasha was the son of a Philippine lawyer closely connected with the Nugan Hand Bank, an Australian bank closely connected to the CIA. Almost a fifth of Harken's stock was owned by Abdullah Bakhsh, a Saudi business magnate believed to represent Khalid bin Mahfouz. -- Kevin Phillips

George W. Bush did his best to repay old family debts upon taking office. He appointed a number of former Reagan/Bush officials tarred during the Iran-Contra investigations to office in his administration, including John Poindexter, Elliot Abrams, and John Negroponte, now the new US ambassador to Iraq. He also appointed the neoconservatives from the first Bush administration most likely to favor a new war with Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz and Dougas Feith, and selected his father's Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, as his vice-president. -- Kevin Phillips

From 1992 to 1997, the Carlyle Group owned Vinnell Corporation, which trained and supported the Saudi National Guard, the royal family's internal security force. In 2001, when terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center, the WTC's security was handled by a company called Securacom (now Stratasec), a firm that from 1993 to 2000 had Marvin Bush as a director and major shareholder. Ties between the Carlyle Group's major officers, including George H.W. Bush, Frank Carlucci, and James Baker, and the powerful bin Laden family, are deep and well documented. Charles Freeman, president of the Middle East Policy Council and a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has said, "If ever there were any company closely connected to the US and its presence in Saudi Arabia, it's the bin Laden Group. They're the establishment Osama's trying to overthrow." (Other experts note that ties between Osama and his rich, well-connected family are still strong.) Many found the ties between the Bush family and the bin Ladens reprehensible. Larry Klayman of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch said, "The idea of the President's father, an ex-president himself, doing business with a company under investigation by the FBI in the terror attacks of September 11 is horrible. President Bush should not ask, but demand, that his father pull out of the Carlyle Group."

The Bush administration's refusal to investigate the connections between the Saudis and the 9/11 attacks was criticized by foreign policy expert William Hartung, who said, "If there weren't all these other arrangements -- arms deals and oil deals and consultancies -- I don't think the US would stand for this lack of cooperation." Journalist Greg Palast flatly stated that the connections between the bin Ladens, the Carlyle Group, and George W. Bush's Arbusto Oil ensured that no real investigation of the role played by the Saudis in the 9/11 attacks would ever be explored. And Joseph Trento, author of the book The Secret History of the CIA, said that "as CIA director, the President's father, George Herbert Walker Bush, joined with a Saudi prince to create a bank for covert operations to fight the Soviets through the Islamic cause in Afghanistan. The Bank of Credit and Commerce International collapsed in scandal, but its personalities and pieces became the vessels and conduits of the terrorist network." In the summer of 2003, the report of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on the 9/11 attacks were redacted by Bush officials to hide 28 pages of information connecting the Saudis and other Middle Eastern governments to the terror attacks. Senate Democrat Charles Schumer said, "There seems to be a systematic strategy of coddling and cover-up when it comes to the Saudis." The three major Middle Eastern scandals of the first Bush administration, the October Surprise, Iran-Contra, and Iraqgate seemed to be directly connected to a new scandal brewing over the Saudi-9/11 connection. -- Kevin Phillips

While one loudly proclaimed justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq is the need to build a democracy in Iraq, the political and economic history of the Bush family over four generations suggests rather the reverse, when one figures in their taste for covert operations and under-the-table financial dealings. Kevin Phillips writes that as good a case can be made for Bush-cum-US destabilization of regimes in Central America and Chile as in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Bushes boast deep family and business ties to wealthy foreign elites, from Cuban sugar plantation owners to Persian Gulf sheikhs, as well as to the national and international security establishments, the oil business, "crony" capitalism, and related foreign policy specialists. For the Bushes, it has always been more profitable to subvert ground-level democracy rather than promote it. -- Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips concludes his book American Dynasty by writing, "since the events and upheavals of 2000-2001, the United States has had an abundance of unfolding transformations to discuss -- in economics, national security, and even religion. Of these, many can be considered and managed separately. But one is pervasive enough to make its impact felt almost everywhere, the extent to which national government has, at least, temporarily, moved away from the proven tradition of a leader chosen democratically, by a majority or plurality of the electorate, to the succession of a dynastic heir whose unfortunate inheritance is privileged, covert, and globally embroiling." -- Kevin Phillips

"With the election of G.W. Bush, [Enron's Kenneth] Lay had enough stroke at the White House to get more than the occasional free meal. He was writing policy and making appointments. Before his Ponzi scheme collapsed, Lay managed to make two FERC appointments [FERC is the governmental agency that regulates the energy industry.] ...Call it the Lay Legacy. His company is in ruins. He's struggling for liquidity and reduced to a modest $9.5 million worth of residential real estate in Houston. ...And the president he helped elect has disowned him. But his appointees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are still with us. Kenny Boy Lay, the little guy with the University of Houston economics Ph.D and the thousand-megawatt smile made sure you and I get FERCed every time we flip a light switch." -- Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." -- Abraham Lincoln, 1864