Impeach Bush? But That Would Mean . . .

Vice President Cheney speaks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about a topic very dear to him: oil.Video by Akira Hakuta/washingtonpost.comWashington Sketch
By Dana Milbank
Thursday, June 12, 2008

The House had a busy day yesterday. There was the Amtrak bill, an extension of unemployment benefits, and legislation on NASA's budget.

Oh, yeah: And lawmakers decided whether or not to impeach the president of the United States.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Gadfly) thought it would be a swell idea, so he spent 4 1/2 hours Monday night reading his impeachment articles aloud on the House floor and forced the House clerks to do the same Tuesday night. Kucinich had already lost in his effort to impeach Vice President Cheney, so why not go for President Bush?

But in the end, the Democrats caved. Though most Republicans were happy to debate the proposal, Democrats (even Kucinich) and two dozen GOP moderates voted, without even a word of debate, to send the impeachment articles to the Judiciary Committee, where they will die a quiet death.

Why so unwilling to impeach Bush? As Democratic leaders like to say, two words: Dick Cheney. At this late stage in his presidency, Bush can still feel confident that his job is secure, if only because his foes are so terrified of the man who would succeed him.

As it happens, the Dark Lord himself had escaped the confines of his secure, undisclosed location yesterday afternoon and was giving a speech to the friendly ears of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His topic: energy. His solution: more oil.

"We have to recognize that there isn't anything out there that is going to get us away from a hydrocarbon economy anytime in the near future," the vice president announced. "There really isn't anything on the horizon that today is economic, relative, for example, to basic, good old oil and gas."

Let the Obama supporters drive their Priuses. "The solution for us in the near term -- near term being over the next few years -- is to increase production," Cheney said. "For far too long, too many politicians have advocated all kinds of other courses of action without facing up to the basic fundamental fact that today we have a hydrocarbon economy, and if you're going to have cheap, affordable energy available in the amounts it needs to be to run our economy, you're going to have to produce more of it."

"Drill!" "Oil!" "Gas!" "More!"

In his oil-patch zeal, Cheney sounded more chairman of Halliburton than vice president of the United States. The country has moved on to a debate about how to reduce carbon emissions to slow global warming. Domestic oil drilling would do little if anything to ease gas prices in the short term and, even in the long term, wouldn't reverse the growing supply/demand imbalance as emerging economies devour dwindling reserves.

But Cheney needn't worry about sounding tone-deaf. It merely provides Bush more job security.

"Few elected officials are as misunderstood and as mischaracterized as is Vice President Cheney," Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said yesterday as he introduced Cheney to the group's board of directors. "Many Americans do not know the real Dick Cheney. That's partly because he doesn't behave like most other politicians."

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