Page 14


Pt’s, continued from page 5 U.S. Supreme Court ruling by the end of August that delivers $5 billion in new Court of Criminal Appeals displayed June on a similar challenge that argues subsidies. compassion and conscience. The court the mixture of chemicals that most Slocum and Public Citizen have granted a condemned man a reprieve states use in lethal injections amounts repeatedly called for a “real energy just days before his scheduled lethal to an unconstitutional cruel and unusuprogram,” which would include higher injection in Huntsville. Derrick Sean al punishment. That ruling may tempofuel economy standards and a new O’Brien got about as lucky as someone rarily halt Texas executionsincluding income tax on windfall oil profits. That waiting for execution can get when the O’Brien’swhich has been rescheduled tax would be dedicated to supporting judges shocked the state’s legal commufor July 11. clean energy fuels, renewable energy, nity by postponing O’Brien’s execution. energy efficiency, and increased invest O’Brien’s lawyer filed a motion argu GEORGE VS. TYSON On May 18, ment in mass transit. ing that the cocktail of sodium thiopenTyson Slocum, who directs Public Cit tal, pancuronium bromide, and potasizen’s Critical Energy Program went EARLE OF THE SILVER SCREEN sium chloride used in Texas’ execu mano a mano with Stephen Colbert The Dallas Morning News calls it a tions causes excessive and excruciating or more accurately finger jab to fin”one-sided shootout”; the Fort Worth pain and amounts to cruel and unusual ger jab. Many have tried and many Star Telegram says it “preaches almost punishment. This isn’t a novel legal have failed. As President Bush and exclusively to the converted”; Tom argument. Attorneys for most prisoners the stuffed-shirt, see-no-evil, say-noDeLay dubs it “worthless.” facing the death penalty file that same evil Washington press corps know all The object of their aspersion is The brief; the court almost always swats it too well, it’s just plain haaaard to fake Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress, aside. This time, a majority of the judgout fake-news comedian Stephen Cola newly released documentary about es decided that O’Brien’s lawyer might bert, the host of Comedy Central’s Colthe rise and fall of Tom DeLay, which be on to something, and they canceled bert Report. Before thousands of jourenjoyed a sold-out world premiere of O’Brien’s execution date. nalists, and the president and first lady, nearly 200 on May 19 at Houston’s Before death penalty opponents Colbert delivered a chillingly perceptive Angelika Theater. Proceeds from the could muster too much hope, however, “Emperor’s No Clothes” take on the Bush event went to Texans for Public Justice, the court reverted to form. Two days presidency during the White House Corthe watchdog group that, back in 2003, after the O’Brien reprieve, another conrespondents’ Association dinner this cracked the door on DeLay’s possible demned man, Jermaine Herron, was spring. “I stand by this man,” Colbert illegal use of corporate money in the scheduled to die. Seeing some success declared, “I stand by this man, because 2002 Texas election. The documentary, with the excruciating pain argument, he stands for things. Not only for things, written and directed by Texas filmmak Herron’s lawyers filed a similar appeal. he stands on things, things like aircraft ers Jim Schermbeck and Mark Birnbaum, The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected carriers and , rubble and recently floodcasts Ronnie Earle, the Travis County DA it, and he was executed. How can this ed city squares. And that sends a strong investigating DeLay, as a populist hero mix of lethal injection be too cruel for message, that no matter what happens taking aim at corporate crooks. Tom one man but not another? The court to America, she will always rebound DeLay, the former U.S. House Majority rectified that apparent inconsistency with the most powerfully staged photoLeader, fills the role of the sinister and and got back its judicial mojo by also ops in the world.” hypocritical power-broker. lifting O’Brien’s reprieve. It’s worth not Fortunately, Slocum \(another former The Big Buy borrows from the Robert ing, however, that the court lifted it on a 5-4 vote. ly better during his recent encounter stresses the politics of the documenta Catherine Burnett, a law professor with Colbert. After fielding some softry rather than the artistry, the polemiat South Texas College of Law and the balls”That some sort of a Commie cal message rather than even-handed court-appointed lawyer for O’Brien, was front?”; “You don’t want me to ride my reporting. \(Greenwald is responsible for diplomatic in her description of the state bike to work, do you?”; “What’s your such fodder as Outfoxed, high court’s maneuvering. She called clean energy programsquirrels on a Uncovered: The War on Iraq, and Walthe reprieve a cautious and responwheel?” Slocum managed to score a Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices and sible move to consider the arguments. few critical points about America’s role is the producer of That Burnett, who hasn’t given up keeping in the energy crisis: Americans use one unabashed partisanship has generated her client alive, chose not to criticize out of every four barrels of oil consumed more press than the actual content. the judges for lifting the reprieve. in the worlddouble the amount conThe film will probably appeal to viewers So what’s left for O’Brien? The sumed by their counterparts in Europe who aren’t DeLay experts \(there are no condemned man and death penalty and Asia. At a time of unprecedented oil opponents hold out hope that the U.S. company profits \($342.2 billion during observers \(the subject material doesn’t Some legal scholars also anticipate a Congress passed an energy bill last press conference before the screening 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 2, 2006