Several years ago while I was teaching U.S. and world history at the American School of Quito, Ecuador, my students invited me to attend a student bullfight. Several students from the school were each going to fight a bull from their respective haciendas, and one of them was my top-ranked history student. His father had recently returned from being Ecuador’s ambassador to Italy, and before that had been Ecuador’s first professional bullfighter. His father wanted me to come because he was certain his son would also be the prize-winning bullfighter of the contest. The Saturday event was to be held at a formal mini-bullring at the hacienda of one of the other students.
I invited my student teacher to go with me. She was living with an Ecuadorian family and gave me directions to their house. She also told me that she and the family always used the side door that led to the carport rather than the more formal front door. When I arrived, the front gate was unlocked. It was custom to ring the bell at the gate, if it was locked, but to come on in and ring the bell at the door if the gate was not locked. So that’s what I did and went to the door she had told me about.
She came out under the carport with the housekeeper, introduced me, then remembered something and was noticeably puzzled. She asked, “How did you get in?” “Through the gate,” I replied. “But what about Tarzan?” she quickly asked. “Tarzan?” I responded, incredulously. “Grrrrr, WOOOF!” I suddenly turned to see a huge German shepherd staring at me, with his fangs gleaming, leaning back on his haunches, getting ready to lunge for my throat! My student teacher and the housekeeper immediately stepped between me and death. “I’m sorry! I forgot to tell you about Tarzan!” Lucky to be alive, I survived another example of Offutt’s Law: “The more important it is for you to know something, the less likely that information will be volunteered to you.”
Surprisingly, on June 15, George W. Bush committed the most commendable act of his presidency – he used the Antiquities Act to create the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument! It would be nice if this meant an end to his anti-environmental activism, but I fear it is intended only to make us think so. He would never have done it if it had negatively impacted his base – the Haves and Have-Mores. Only eight fishermen are affected. Also, since 40% of his evangelical Christian base has recently discovered a connection between God and nature, Mr. Bush may have felt compelled to do at least one positive thing to placate them.
As I have pointed out before, the Bush-Cheney co-presidency lives on Offutt’s Law and does not want the American people to know what it’s doing. This administration has appointed “crony-administrators” who don’t want our environmental agencies functioning properly. It also has a Republican majority in Congress that is equally hostile toward the environment. It is important that you know who these people are. Here are four more foxes that Mr. Bush has watching our hen houses.
Matthew Hogan has been appointed as acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mr. Hogan has been the chief lobbyist for the Safari Club International! Incredibly, that organization offers an award for killing the “Africa Big Five” which includes elephants, lions, and rhinos! It offers 29 different awards, and, to get them all, a member must kill 322 animals. According to the Humane Society of the U.S., they use very questionable methods in doing so. Anyway, the President and Vice have put Mr. Hogan in charge of the agency that is supposed to protect endangered species!
Mark Rey is Bush-Cheney’s Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment. Mr. Rey is a former timber company executive and lobbyist; and he is a long-time opponent of the federal environmental regulations he is supposed to enforce – like the Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2001! He’s the saboteur behind the schemes to turn over the future of our national forests to state governors and to sell off 300,000 acres of our national forests. This guy’s offering a “fire sale” to help pay for the revenue shortfall due to the tax cuts for Bush’s millionaire base.
Sen. Conrad Burns is a Montana Republican who received only a 5% pro-environment rating from the League of Conservation voters. Sen. Burns slipped a mean-spirited provision into a 3,300-page budget bill. This one guy eliminated much of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act that was passed by popular demand in 1971! One of my recent GED graduates often took study breaks by checking the Bureau of Land Management’s website to see what horses he could adopt. Sen. Burns has personally required the government to sell “without limitation” all wild horses that are more than ten years old or have not been adopted after being offered three times. That means that part of our national heritage is now being slaughtered and shipped to Europe and Asia for food! Please ask Mike Ross to support House Bill 297 and Senators Lincoln and Pryor to support Senate Bill 576 to restore the original 1971 act.
Sen. James Inhofe (OK) – with a 0% pro-environment rating – incredibly, is the Republican who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He appears to be nothing more than a taxpayer-supported mouthpiece for Exxon Mobil’s team of junk scientists that distorts the evidence on global warming. Working in cahoots with the President and Vice, who renounced the Kyoto Protocol, he seeks to weaken the Clear Air Act of 1972 and to oppose bills that might prevent more carbon dioxide from being released. However, Sen. Inhofe failed in his attempt to stop the adoption of a “Sense of the Senate” resolution in June 2005: The Senate finally went on record acknowledging that global warming is real and that mandatory limits are necessary to slow, stop, and reverse it. We should be proud that our two senators, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, supported this resolution.
The President, Vice, and their lackeys are so diabolical as to mirror the deliciously evil villains in those great Disney classics: the wicked witch who gives Snow White that apple, Cinderella’s stepmother, the queen in Sleeping Beauty, Drusilla in 101 Dalmatians, Captain Hook in Peter Pan, and Honest John in Pinocchio.
I almost forgot! There were no bulls killed by the students: If the “matador” touched his bull in the right spot, it was considered a kill. You know good and well that I asked about that before ever accepting the invitation! And yes, my student did receive the trophy for being the best matador. The judges also awarded him a walk around the ring, and his fellow students tossed him their sweaters, caps, and scarves. His proud father/instructor put his arm around his son and said to me, “See, Senor Offutt, not only in history (is he the best).”
by David Offutt
A version of this essay was published August 4, 2006,
in the El Dorado News-Times as a letter to the editor.