In 1999, after a study by the university of California at Davis warned that the chemical MTBE may cause cancer in humans, California became the first U.S. state to phase out its use as a gasoline additive. (MTBE from leaking underground storage tanks contaminates soil and groundwater.) But the Canadian corporation Methanex, which produces the MBTE ingredient methanol, viewed California's action as a confiscation of its property. So Methanex pursued a novel avenue of redress--one that leaps across three separate levels of law and governance.
It was a moment that had political junkies, just out of bed for the Sunday morning talk shows and slurping cereal milk, snarfing with laughter. Asked by ABC's Sam Donaldson to comment on Pat Buchanan's build-a-wall protectionist views on the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox responded, "Is he still alive?"
The real Fox-Buchanan joke may have a different punch line. Though the two are far apart on economic issues such as NAFTA, on social questions the Jesuit-schooled Fox takes a number of stances reminiscent of Buchanan's right-wing Catholicism.
Chances are most liberals aren't familiar with the Left Behind series, the set of apocalyptic mega-bestsellers penned by the fundamentalist preacher Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. But if you want some insight into conservative rage over the recent booting of the U.S. from the United Nations Human Rights Commission -- where it has held a seat since the body's founding in 1947 -- the Left Behind novels are a good place to start.