Oh sure, Hugo Chavez might have his quirks. But at least he's not George Bush. That's Gail Collins's operative thesis in The Great Clock Plot [subscription required] in this morning's New York Times.
Collins riffs off an announcement Chavez made this week of his plan to move Venezuela's clocks ahead by half an hour. Writes Collins:
Reaction was swift, with many people recalling the scene in Woody Allen’s “Bananas” when a revolutionary hero becomes president of a Latin American country and announces that from now on, “underwear will be worn on the outside.”
That democracy-repressing strongman really cracks Gail up. But that's when Collins gets off the first of her barbs against President Bush:
The other popular comment was that Americans are in no position to make fun of countries whose leaders make incoherent speeches.
Wonder where that comment was "popular": the Times's newsroom, perhaps?
Collins then mocks Chavez's loony justification for the move: that it will increase productivity and create a “metabolic effect, where the human brain is conditioned by sunlight.”
But once again, Chavez daffy, Bush bad, as Collins continues:
Now I know all this sounds extremely silly, but in the name of fairness, remember that:
1) You live in a country where the administration believes that cutting taxes for the heirs to billion-dollar estates will lead to increased prosperity for unemployed steel workers. [Yes, everyone knows that the way to expand the economy is not to leave money in private sector but to hand it over to the government.]
2) Every year, most Americans spring forward and fall back so that the Sun God will send extra rays to we who honor him with the ceremony of the changing of the clocks. [You mocking Ben Franklin now?]
3) So far, Hugo Chávez hasn’t invaded anybody.
Later, Collins quotes an American academic to the effect that, unless they're repeated, rational people in the Venezuelan government tend to ignore Chavez's nuttier announcements. That gives the columnist the opening to take this parting shot:
If only we had a similar system in the United States, imagine all the things we might have avoided over the last six years.
Gail Collins: living proof that there's absolutely no subject under the sun, even time changes in Third World countries, that the MSM can't use to bash President Bush.