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ow. I Ann Richards, Bill Clinton, and Lloyd Bentsen Observer Archives greedheads, kill-’em warlovers, and the slick skyscraper men silently servicing, up and down the elevators, the corporations and the bankswas in Southern California. We simply could not have imagined that, after John Kennedy was murdered, presidents from those very two zones of darkness would rule the United States for two-thirds of the next 45 years. In the ’50s, the liberals in the Texas Capitol fought every other year to head off a general sales tax. In 1961, State Senator Charlie Wilson, the sometime liberal from Lufkin, slipped that tax into law. Now, half a century later, President George W. Bush of Crawford, Texashaving repealed enough taxes on the rich to kill the government, in due course, as the people’s friend, and allegedly given a mandate by his ostensible three-point victory for his second term \(not to mention his 3federal income tax and replace it, so we are told, either with a general sales tax or a flat-rate tax. When we started out, the major oil companies ruled the politics and politicians of the state. The Texas Railroad Commission served as the production regulator for the international oil cartel. Today the president from Texas and his vice-president from Halliburton and Brown & Root rule the United States, gutting renewable energy projects while promoting coal power and reviving nuclear power, and, as if in our names, waging an illegal war of aggression against 25 million Iraqis 6,000 miles away, half of them aged 14 years or under, to get control of their oil and join the Bushes’ special ally, Saudi Arabia, in fixing the prices for the same international oil cartel. Those days in politics, as Lyndon Johnson once said to me in the White House about Brown & Root, “It was all cash.” The legislature and the governor’s mansion were servants’ quarters for the corporations and the multimillionaires. Only about 30 rebels in the House of 150 members and a few in the Senate actively, if hopelessly, defended the public interest. In 2004, for the first time, the spending in the race for U.S. president broke a billion dollars, and total federal election spending for the yearmost of it, of course, money from the rich and the corporationsfell just shy of four billion dollars. As I asked “What Corrupted Texas?” in Harper’s Magazine in 1957, so now we must ask “What Corrupted the United States?” Big corporations and big money corrupted Texas then and big corporations and big money have corrupted the United States now. One would have had to stretch it, back then, to call Texas a democracy. Seen as a system unto itself, it was a corrupt oligarchy, endorsed and abetted, rather than challenged, by its mainstream pressin substance, precursive fascism, still democratic in form. After November 2nd last, one now would have to stretch it to call the Texafied United States a democracy. It is a corrupt oligarchy, protected and celebrated by a mainline TV industry that is the first privately owned propa 12/3/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 61