The early reviews are in on the new George W. Bush administration. It has all the elements of the classic horror story: a predictable plot, familiar villains and an unshakable sense of déjà vu. On the following pages, we take a look at Bush's nominees and appointments, a diverse cast of characters in every way but ideology. Left to their own devices, this collection of unrepentant cold warriors, anti-choice extremists, Wise-Use desperados and corporate shills (as well as a couple of reasonable old-fashioned conservatives) could make for a harrowing next four years.

Can the forces of good thwart this evil plan? Well, as In These Times went to press, thousands of townspeople were taking their torches to Washington to protest Dubya's inauguration, making one thing clear: There will be no honeymoon!

Craig Aaron


Here are some of former Michigan Sen. Spencer Abraham's qualifications for being energy secretary in the Bush administration: He has tried three times to abolish the department. In last year's election--which he lost--he received far more campaign contributions from the auto industry than any other member of Congress, and nearly tied for the most contributions from the energy and natural resources sector.

But that's not all. An ardent defender of the auto industry and internal combustion engine, he also has opposed higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, sport-utility vehicles and light trucks. Last year he pushed for legislation to suspend federal taxes on gasoline. He favors drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He also fought reform of the system that had long permitted oil companies to pay minimal royalties for oil from public lands. Against both Republican and Democratic politicians in Nevada, he has pushed for storing nuclear waste in the Yucca Mountain site.

Just to be consistent, he also has voted against increased funding for solar and renewable energy. After his nomination by Bush, he talked about assuring the adequacy of supply of energy, but said nothing about conservation or energy efficiency. And in 1995, he voted against increasing home heating assistance for low-income families. His record on energy issues, as well as a wider range of environmental policies, has earned him the lowest possible rating from both the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.

Abraham may serve as energy secretary, but clearly Big Oil and its allies will be in charge. That is no surprise in this administration: Bush, Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice and Commerce Secretary Don Evans all have been executives or directors in oil industry firms, and many of Bush's most important contributors come from the oil industry. But despite Abraham's political-financial ties to the industry, even his supporters acknowledge that he has little experience with energy issues.

Although environmental organizations understandably have focused their fire on Interior Secretary-nominee Gale Norton, Abraham's views on environmental issues--such as protecting property owners from federal regulatory "takings"--and his likely energy policies pose a similar threat to the environment. But Abraham's policies are likely to have destructive economic consequences as well by keeping the United States on an unsustainable course, emphasizing consumption of nonrenewable energy rather than higher-efficiency and renewable sources of energy.


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