Bartlett's Replacement Is Disappointing

President Bush's decision this week to appoint lobbyist Ed Gillespie as White House counselor was unfortunate, but fitting.

Early in the administration, Gillespie put together a coalition of conservative groups to flak for the president’s energy plan. The coalition sponsored ads that tried to scare people into thinking that 70’s era gas lines would return if liberals had their way and noted that even conservation leader California suffered from rolling electricity blackouts.

Gillespie claimed the money came from the coalition’s 10 members, most of which were conservative organizations. But Newsweek later revealed that only Gillespies’s corporate lobbying clients actually contributed. They included Enron (which paid Gillespie’s lobbying form $700,000 in 2001) and DaimlerChrysler (for which Gillespie’s firm received $360,000 in 2001 to lobby on fuel economy standards and other issues). No matter that the ads didn’t explain how increased fuel economy standards would cause gas shortages or that market manipulation by Enron and other energy companies had actually caused California’s blackouts. That was back in the early part of the administration, when details were, well, just details.

Enron and Daimler, Newsweek reported, had routed their money through a pair of nonprofits, Citizens for a Sound Economy and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, said it was understood that Gillespie was doing the administration’s bidding with “a wink and a nod.

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