Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-MO) suddenly woke up the other day! Like that transformed character in Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphis,” he noticed there was something radically wrong in his bizarre world of political junkies, fat cat lobbyists, behind the scene wire pullers, controlled media and mostly befuddled members of the U.S. Congress.

It was George W. Bush, Jr., the wild dude from Texas who presently occupies the highest office in the land, that finally caught Gephardt’s attention. “He worries me” (“Washington Post,” 01/01/04), the democratic presidential candidate revealed about Bush Jr. Hey, join the club, Gephardt! Bush, Jr. also worries many other Americans, and lots of folks around the planet, too, who really care about peace on this earth.

First question for Gephardt: Where in the name of Mark Twain have you been for the last three years? Floating down the Mississippi River from St. Louis to New Orleans in a canoe without a paddle? (If so, the next time you take a holiday, bring your fellow Missourian, “Sheriff Long John” Ashcroft, along with you! Our shattered Bill of Rights will be grateful for a respite from the guy who brought us the USA Patriot Act.)

Getting back to Gephardt. He continued on with his Siggy Freud-like analysis of Bush, Jr., “He’s not dumb.” Gee, that’s reassuring, since Bush, Jr. does have his finger on the nuclear trigger! “But, he is not informed,” Gephardt went on to say about the spacey son of Bush, Sr. “And, he’s not experienced and he hasn’t surrounded himself with the ‘right people’ to give him the information and the experience that he doesn’t have.”

Wow! Who are the “right people,” Gephardt? And, more importantly, who are the BAD PEOPLE that have been manipulating our dunce-like president? Is it those sinister Neocons, such as Paul Wolfowitz? Is it the scheming cronies of Dick Cheney, who are making a huge financial killing in Iraq, sucking off the misery of the occupation? And if so, will Gephardt put their names on the public record and then tell us what can be done about getting rid of those creeps that continue to put THEIR interests before the interests of the people of this Republic? We’re waiting, Gephardt!

It is good that Gephardt is finally confessing that there is a serious problem in the Oval Office and that he doesn’t trust Bush, Jr. “to conduct foreign policy.” But, his timing is a wee bit off. It would have been much better if he would have come clean about his deep reservations about Bush, Jr. when that important vote came up in the House of Representatives, in October, 2002, on the pro-Iraq War Resolution. Instead, Gephardt voted then to delegate the awesome war making power, that the Constitution specifically grants to the Congress alone, to the Bush-Cheney Gang. That was a cowardly, reprehensible decision by Gephardt and the Congress, too, especially the rapid cheerleaders for the war, like the overly pious Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), Sen. Joe “Sore Loser” Lieberman (D-CT) and Sen. Arlen “Magic Bullet” Specter (R-PA). It is beyond cavil that the passage of the pro-Iraq War Resolution is a stain on our Republic.

Bush, Jr. unleashed the dogs of war on the peoples of Iraq on March 20, 2003. His dubious pretext was that the already beleaguered Arab country possessed WMD and that its flakey leader, Saddam Hussein, (Donald Rumsfeld’s old buddy), had ties to the al Qaeda terrorist network. Bush, Jr. lied on both counts! To date, that bloody conflict has cost us the lives of 479 of our finest sons and daughters (lunaville.org) and $93.4 billion (costofwar.com).

More questions: Did Gephardt and the other congressional War Hawks know the ultra Chicken Hawk, Bush, Jr., was lying? Didn’t they have a obligation, under the Constitution, to ascertain the full truth about the dubious reasons being given for the war, before sanctioning it? Is Gephardt floating this “Bush, Jr. is an empty-headed-turkey story,” (and is surrounded by even dumber foreign policy advisors), only to boost his own candidacy and to cover up the fact that he was a willing accomplice to the Iraq quagmire? Does Gephardt think he can make the voters forget his and Congress’ role in starting the Iraq War? I think this is exactly what Gephardt is trying to do. However, It won’t work!

It’s appropriate for the people to know that Gephardt thinks Bush, Jr. “is a miserable failure,” who has a “minimal understanding,” of international matters, and that he operates with a “cowboy kind of belief.” However, in the puff piece “Washington Post” interview, the ambitious Gephardt simply painted himself into a corner. The voters are on to him!

There is plenty of blame to go around for getting the U.S. into this Iraqi mess. It is time for presidential candidate Gephardt to own up to his part in this shameful drama. It is bad enough that Bush Jr. deliberately lied us into that war. More deceptions from one of his prime co-conspirators, Gephardt, just won’t cut it with the American people.

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William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (Iuniverse, Inc.), which is avaiable at Amazon.com.