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Nail Down the Furniture

Have they no shame? (Hint: No.)

We speak of the current band of varlets and scoundrels just ending their eight-year reign of terror in our nation's capital. With both presidential candidates lambasting Mr. Bush and his henchmen daily, the lame ducks are hell-bent on wreaking as much havoc as they can in these last not-quite-three-months of their joyride.

One particularly odoriferous episode is still seeping out from under the backroom doors of the Interior Department—an attempt to rewrite Endangered Species Act regulations to remove the requirement that the Forest Service and other agencies consult with the scientific agencies before they undertake projects that might affect protected species. Another change would preclude the agency from considering global climate change in its decision process.

Now pay attention: this is incredible.

The DoI asked for public comments and received about 200,000. So it assembled a team of 15 flunkies and gave them four days—32 hours—to review the comments. According to calculations by the Associated Press, this meant that the team would review 6,250 comments an hour and that each reviewer would be scanning at least seven comments a minute.

I hope they all took Evelyn Wood: many of the comments were boilerplate emails but others were many pages of thoughtful analysis and suggestions.

And dang if they didn't pull it off, or at least claim to. As of October 27, the department announced that it had examined the comments and determined that its new proposed rules would be just fine, thank you.

It's all really quite tawdry.

And this is just one of dozens, probably hundreds of such sneaky ploys now underway.

To quote Joseph Welch, speaking to Senator Joe McCarthy, "Have you no sense of decency sir?"

Guess not.

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