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More Toothpicks and Fewer Air Bags on Dubya's Agenda?

April 18, 2001|ROY RIVENBURG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Liberals are having conniption fits over President Bush's first three months of compassionate conservatism: arsenic in tap water, salmonella in school lunches and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Many are wondering what's next. Here's a possible preview:

* April: In a bold sequel to his faith-based community service initiative, Bush unveils "faith-based Medicare," which would replace the nation's costly senior health-care system with a network of televangelists, witch doctors, aromatherapists, shamans, Christian Scientists, New Age crystals and an innovative "prescription placebo program."

* May: To boost sagging auto industry profits, Bush relaxes car safety standards. Air bags are replaced with packages of balloons that passengers can inflate right before an accident.

* June: The EPA alters a Clinton administration rule that required public notification by industry when lead was emitted into the environment. Under the revised rule, public notification will still be required, but in the form of a single fortune cookie message written in Swahili and distributed in either Buenos Aires, the lost continent of Atlantis or the planet Zolton in the galaxy Beta 225.

* July: Moving to avert what he calls "a catastrophic nationwide toothpick shortage in restaurants," President Bush approves a plan to allow logging in Sequoia National Forest.

* August: In the grand tradition of Ronald Reagan making ketchup a vegetable, the president declares strontium 90 one of the four food groups.

* September: Noting that daylight saving time reduces energy consumption by 2%, Bush inaugurates day saving time, which moves clocks ahead 24 hours to save even more energy.

* October: Not wanting to be upstaged by the U.S. Navy--which accidentally sank a Japanese fishing boat with one of its submarines and downed a Chinese pilot with one of its spy planes--the U.S. Army inadvertently invades Canada with one of its armored tank divisions.

* November: Continuing its efforts to tackle the electricity crisis, the Bush administration repeals all anti-smog standards. "If we can increase global warming, it will significantly reduce winter heating bills," explains the president.

* December: Bowing to pressure from environmentalists, the administration agrees to expand the nation's endangered species list. The first addition: Sen. Strom Thurmond. "If anything happens to him, the Democrats would control the Senate," says Interior Secretary Gale Norton, chomping on a Sequoia National Toothpick.

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