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CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 2

 

GEORGE W. BUSH’S EARLY YEARS

 

THREE ARRESTS

Three arrests marred George W. Bush’s early life. First, he was arrested along with his fraternity cronies for stealing a Christmas wreath. Then Bush was arrested for disorderly conduct at a football game. His third arrest -- for drunk driving -- was the most serious, only because he tried to keep it secret from the American public.

A GIRL FRIEND’S ABORTION

According to Hustler magazine’s Larry Flynt (CNN interview in October 2000), Bush dated Robin Lowman in the winter of 1971. Bush allegedly got her pregnant and arranged an illegal abortion in Houston’s Twelve Oaks Hospital. This was just prior to the Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion. Flynt claimed that he had affidavits from four witnesses attesting his claim.

AVOIDING THE DRAFT.

Bush was able to avoid the Vietnam War by entering the Texas Air National Guard at the age of 21, while most inductees were shipped over to Southeast Asia. On May 27, 1968, two weeks before he was to graduate from Yale, Bush went to the Texas Air National Guard at Ellington Field near Houston and announced that he wanted to sign up. Bush was 12 days away from losing his student deferment from the draft.

The Texas Air National Guard had about 900 slots for pilots, air and ground crew members, supervisors, technicians, and support staff. Sergeant Donald Barnhart said that he kept a waiting list of about 500 applicants’ names. He said it took up to one year and a half for one name to move to the top of the list. Bush’s application records listed no ROTC experience or engineering or aviation experience, which were considered desirable. Most of the other candidates listed aviation experience. Yet, a friend of the Bushes had connections to the Florida Air National Guard and was influential in gettign Bush into the unit. (Los Angeles Times, July 4, 1999; Molly Ivins, Shrub; Charles Lewis, The Buying of the President 2000)

Bush took the Air Force Officers Qualification Test and scored a weak 25 percent, the lowest passing score, for pilot aptitude on the screening test. (Los Angeles Times, July 4, 1999; Molly Evans, Shrub)

In 1972, Bush hoped to move to Alabama to work on the senatorial campaign of former Postmaster General Winton Blount in 1972. Subsequently, he applied in May to have his duty station switched from Texas to Alabama. On September 5, he was transferred to the 187th Tactical Recon Group, an active unit in Montgomery. (Molly Ivins, Shrub)

However, Bush’s military records showed no evidence he did the duty, and the unit commander said he never showed up. Yet Bush maintained that he attended all Air National Guard meetings at Maxwell Air Force Base. He claimed that he could not recall exactly what his duties were. (Boston Globe, May 23, 2000)

William Turnipseed, a retired general who commanded the Alabama unit at the time, said Bush never appeared for duty. Two commanders at Ellington air force base in Houston said in his record that they were unable to perform his annual evaluation covering the year from May 1, 1972 to April 30, 1973. They wrote: “Lieutenant Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report.” (Britain’s Sunday Times, June 17, 2000)

While campaigning for the presidency in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on June 16, 2000, Bush claimed that he specifically recalled being on the Montgomery base. He said, “I was there on a temporary assignment and fulfilled my weekends at one period of time. I made up some missed weekends. …I can’t remember what I did, but I wasn’t flying because they didn't have the same airplanes. I fulfilled my obligation.” (New York Times, June 24, 2000)

DRUNK DRIVING AND AVOIDING JURY DUTY

While visiting his parents’ summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1971, Bush was arrested for drunk driving. He failed a road sobriety test and a second test in the police station, registering a 0.10 percent blood-alcohol level, over the legal limit.

Bush’s DUI stayed out of the public until the 2000 presidential campaign, at which time it was revealed that he opted out of jury service in 1998 while serving as Texas governor. Bush had to answer a question on the juror’s questionnaire: “Have you ever been an accused, or a complainant, or a witness in a criminal case?” He left it blank. Subsequently, his attorney asked that no one object as to why he asked the court to excuse him from jury duty. (Salon, November 2000)

In the spring of 1999, a Newsweek reporter asked Bush, “If you're asked specifically about marijuana or cocaine, what’s the answer?” Bush replied, “I will say what I did as a youth is irrelevant to this campaign. What is relevant is, have you grown up, and I have.”

While Bush was campaigning for the presidency in 2000, Bush acknowledged he had been arrested for a college prank at Yale where he stole a Christmas wreath. He admitted that he had another run-in with law enforcement authorities while at Yale after he and other students tried to tear down the goal posts after a football game with Princeton. He acknowledged having a drinking problem until he made the decision to quit in 1986 at the age of 40. However, Bush refused to answer the question about allegations of the use of cocaine.

FAILING IN THE OIL INDUSTRY

In the 1970s, Bush followed in his father’s footsteps by investing in the oil industry. While his father had made millions of dollars, the young Bush was highly unsuccessful. He invested $17,000 from his education trust fund to start Arbusto Energy Incorporated, a small oil company in Midland. By 1982, Arbusto Energy teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. Consequently, Bush called on family friends to bail him out.

In 1983, Bush was rescued from bankruptcy when Arbusto Energy was bailed out by a wealthy friend who owned Spectrum 7 Energy Corporation. Bush was named CEO and was given an annual salary of $75,000. He also received 1.6 million shares of Spectrum 7 for the 4,000 outstanding shares of Bush Exploration. However, two years later, the world oil market plummeted. Spectrum 7 posted losses of $400,000 just six months before Bush left, and the company’s debt hit $3 million. Spectrum 7 was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Bush created Harken Energy by absorbing Spectrum 7’s $3 million worth of debt. He received $600,000 worth of Harken Energy stock in return for his 14.9 percent stake in Spectrum 7. When Harken Energy began to sputter in 1990, Bush sold two-thirds of his company stock, which he had acquired in the Spectrum 7 deal at $4 per share. He netted $848,560 -- $318,430 more than it was worth when he got it. Two months later, Iraq invaded Kuwait and Harken’s stock dropped to $3 a share. It later fell to $2.37.

FAILING TO FILE PROPERLY WITH THE SEC

Bush failed to file a disclosure with the SEC in a timely fashion. He maintained that he had filed the missing disclosure form. He waited eight months before notifying the SEC of the sale of Harken Energy, missing the filing deadline for reporting insider trades. He claimed that the SEC had fully investigated his stock transaction in October 1994, and he boasted that he was exonerated. However, the SEC never determined who purchased Bush’s stock.

Bush changed his story on July 4, 2002. This time, he claimed the 34-week delay in his filing on the SEC was a result of a “mix-up” by Harken Energy’s lawyers. Bush said there was a “clerical mistake” by his lawyers for failing to disclose an $848,560 stock sale in a timely manner. New York Times, July 11, 2002)

THE TEXAS RANGERS

In order to purchase the Texas Rangers major league baseball franchise, Bush looked to Richard Rainwater, another wealthy family friend. Rainwater agreed to form a partnership with and to purchase the Texas Rangers for $86 million. Bush needed a loan of $606,000 which he secured from a Midland bank, where he once had served on the board of directors.

Bush and his co-owners pressured Arlington County to build a new stadium that increased the value of the Rangers. They threatened to move the Rangers unless the city built a new stadium. The owners also were behind the ploy to boost sales tax by one-half cent. The Rangers contributed only $30 million to the $190 million stadium, and management was allowed to keep the ensuing revenue. In return, Bush and his partners paid $5 million in annual rent and maintenance fees to the city. The Rangers received approximately $200 million in public subsidies from the sales tax increase and state tax exemptions.

Bush and his associates conspired to increase the value of the ballpark by purchasing land next to the stadium. The Rangers’ management was able to use eminent domain to force families to sell their land.

BUSH THE GOVERNOR

During Bush’s tenure as governor, Texas ranked:

50th in spending for teachers

49th in spending on the environment

48th in per-capita funding for public health

47th in delivery of social services

42nd in child support collections

41st in per capita spending on public education

5th in percentage of population living in poverty

1st in air and water pollution

1st in percentage of poor working parents without insurance

1st in percentage of children without health insurance

1st in executions --an average of one every two weeks

1st in executions. Bush presided over 152 executions. While most governors spent hours combing over documents to determine if a reprieve should be granted, Bush spent just a few minutes.

EMBARRASSED BY HIS DAUGHTERS

In the spring of 2001, Jenna Bush, one of Bush’s 19-year old twin daughters, was caught in possession of alcohol twice within two weeks. In her first case, she apparently used false identification to try to purchase alcohol at an Austin restaurant. A judge ordered her to attend six hours of alcohol-awareness classes and to perform eight hours of community service. In her second case, Jenna pleaded no contest on May 16 to possessing alcohol after police ticketed her April 27 for drinking beer in Cheers’ Shot Bar, on Austin's nightclub strip. (Reuters, June 1, 2001)