Strap on your seat belts and nuke some popcorn because we got ourselves a Battle Royale between the two gnarliest branches of government that a tree has ever seen. In the left hand corner, back from wandering in the wilderness, the Democrats are just itching to exercise their rediscovered clout. Over in the right hand corner, after six years of unchallenged rule, the Executive branch is not taking kindly having to answer to mere mortals. It's Countdown to a Crisis! The stoppable force versus the movable object.
Watch Executive Privilege do battle with the People's Right to Know! Thrill as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales takes on Senator Charles Schumer in a steel cage match. Both in loincloths. Tremble as March Madness calls for a timeout from the hardwood floors and takes a spin on polished marble aisles. C-SPAN meets the WWE in a contest of Constitutional Chicken. Who wins? The American people, that's who. And the lawyers, of course.
This holy mess stems from Congress' determination to talk to Harriet Miers and Karl Rove to ascertain possible political motivation in the firings of 8 U.S. Attorneys. President Bush, however, is being steadfast, which is a nice way of saying stubborn as a Texas mule. He maintains that if his staff is compelled to testify, they might become reluctant to give him advice. Reviewing the advice they've been giving him lately, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Maybe he should be reluctant to accept it.
Reprising his award winning East Wing talent show impression of Howie Mandel, the President issued Congress an ultimatum: you want talk, okay, they'll talk; but only off the record in private under a cone of silence or not at all. Deal or no deal. The Democrats took about 9 nanoseconds before hitting the "no deal" button. Responding to their vow to uncover the wolf in the Administration, the President says if subpoenas are issued, he'll huff and he'll puff and he'll blow their house down.
The Justice Department did as the Justice Department does, exacerbating the situation by doling out more explanations than Will Ferrell has facial tics. Initially, the layoffs were performance related. Then the federal prosecutors were let go due to incompetence. Theirs, not the DOJ. Other excuses started leaking out like Monterey Jack from an overstuffed quesadilla: Low departmental morale. Insubordination. Pockets full of fish hooks. Double knit pants. Substandard dinner table manners. Grey shoes. Cooties.
Why would anybody think the President's men would mislead us? Oh, yeah, that's right: Enron. Middle class tax cuts. Social Security. Stem cells. Prescription Drug Plan. WMDs. Valerie Plame. And what was Scooter Libby convicted of? Why perjury, wasn't it? Speaking of which, Karl Rove has called this brouhaha a partisan witch hunt and claims it's a case of "pure politics." Which, coming from the Hall of Fame grandmaster of partisan witch hunts, the Democrats should consider a compliment.
I think the President is on the wrong track here public relations wise, with the whole behind-closed-doors, untranscripted, non-deposition thing. This is America, George. We're not secret testimony people. We're out-in-the-open people. We're air-it-in-the-public-forum people. You should throw it up on YouTube. Besides, whenever our rights are being stripped from us to keep us free, aren't you the one who's always saying that the innocent have nothing to hide? Hmmm?
Comic, writer, actor, former radio talk show host and stationary store stock boy in Hollywood, Will Durst, can't wait for the director's cut.
Don't forget to catch Durst in stand-up mode at the Wisconsin ACLU Dinner in Milwaukee on Saturday March 31. And/or listen to his twice weekly commentaries @ audible.com/willdurst.