George W. Bush convinced many swing voters that he was "a uniter, not a divider." He pledged to work with Republicans and Democrats to change the tone of partisan rancor in Washington. But Washington is not Austin, and the sense of a stolen election has strengthened Democratic unity in a closely divided Congress. Any move to the center by Bush will also risk alienating conservatives in his own party.
If all had gone according to George W. Bush's original plan, Marc Racicot would today be our attorney general. Racicot, who was, until recently, governor of Montana, would have been a solid choice. Though he's enough of a GOP loyalist to satisfy the party faithful (he earned his partisan spurs working on Bush's behalf during the Florida recount), he is moderate enough to have pleased the suburban voters who turned out for Bush based on his claim to be a "uniter, not a divider." At one point recently, Racicot had the highest approval rating--87 percent--of any governor in the country.
If you believe Trent Lott, Tom Daschle will have his hands full when he becomes majority leader of the Senate later today. Over the weekend, the deposed Republican majority leader bitterly threatened to "wage war" against Democrats, insisting their 50-49 majority does not actually constitute a majority and promising to grind Senate operations to a halt if he grows displeased with Daschle's handling of Bush's judicial nominees.
So there you are, a pollutant-spewing refinery, nimbly dodging Environmental Protection Agency regulators as you deliver record earnings to shareholders. Along with your comrades, you've donated $25.5 million to Republicans in the 2000 election cycle. Things are going smoothly. Your man Bush is in the White House, he's drummed up an "energy crisis" that he says requires him to go easy on you; maybe he's even given you a nickname. Then, all of a sudden, you hear that four energy companies have just settled clean air lawsuits -- on terms favorable to the government! What's more, Attorney General John Ashcroft suddenly sounds like he's been possessed by Ralph Nader: "Enforcing environmental law is a top priority for the Justice Department," Ashcroft says, to your amazement.