The Teapot Dome Scandal

Pres. Bush’s latest approval ratings have him down in Richard Nixon territory. Heck, Paris Hilton is more popular than George W. Bush and that’s with her mouth shut. We all know the reason for Nixon’s decline in opinion polls—a fancy hotel goes by the bizarre name of Watergate—and it becomes increasingly clear with each passing day that the scandal that George W. Bush’s name will be most associated with has yet to be determined. Will it be lying about WMDs in Iraq? Will it be illegally spying on Americans? Will it be routinely handing out high-level jobs to eminently unqualified morons? Is Batman a transvestite? Who knows. We may never know what the Caped Crusader wears in secret inside his batcave, but one day people will certainly attach the name George W. Bush to one of his ever-increasing scandals the way that Nixon’s name is forever linked not to détente but Watergate. Or is it possible that the words Abu Ghraib or Alberto Gonzales will one day be just a vague history lesson that brings to mind no one in particular the way that the words Teapot Dome Scandal do today?

Hard as it may be to be fathom, before those Cuban immigrants botched the job at the Watergate Hotel, the most famous Presidential scandal in American history was the Teapot Dome Scandal and anyone who heard those words instantly thought of the man who may have been America’s second most handsome President, Warren G. Harding. Harding was what many people still think Ronald Reagan was and George W. Bush is: a rather dim bulb manipulated by far more intelligent underlings. We now have plenty of evidence that while Bush is certainly a dim bulb, all his failings can be placed directly at his doorstep. As he himself has asserted, he was The Decider when it came to lying about WMDs, playing guitar while the Gulf Coast flooded, trying to sell America’s ports to a Middle East country known to harbor terrorists, spying on innocent Americans and, well, you ge the idea. This was not the case with Warren G. Harding. Harding was far from a great guy, but he wasn’t arrogant enough like Pres. Bush to enforce his stupidity upon the world. The Teapot Dome scandal officially began to come to light in 1923 when the Senate announced that its investigation into the dealings of Albert Fall, the Secretary of the Interior, has revealed that Fall has made Cheney-like profits when he quite illegally leased some Navy oil reserves at not only Teapot Dome, Wyoming, but several other sites as well.

The Teapot Dome scandal pales in comparison to the scandals involved in Halliburton’s profits (and losses of your precious tax dollars) in Iraq, of course, but at the time the monetary figures were nothing to shake a big raccoon coat at. Albert Fall took in a cool $400,000 in exchange for illegally handing over oil drilling rights to two big time oilmen. Ah, the more things change the more they stay the same, right? How could George W. Bush possibly have failed as an oilman in America? It boggles the mind when the system is so clearly set up to make them all richer than…Paris Hilton. Of course, it helps that Albert Fall was far dumber than Dick Cheney and didn’t have the Senate in his pocket like Bush. How dumb was Albert Fall? Well, in a circumstance you aren’t likely to see again, when Albert Fall was nominated to become the Secretary of the Interior he was actually deep in the throes of debt. The Senate began to sniff the acrid aroma of corruption when Fall suddenly started buying up land like a drunken French jazzman and began to buy up cattle like an inebriated Belgian carpenter. One primary difference between the Teapot Dome scandal and the scandals of George Bush is that Fall resigned immediately and wasn’t even given the Medal of Freedom or the Trophy of Doing a Heckuva Job.

Another difference is that Pres. Warren Harding appeared to be entirely ignorant of what had taken place. One can only assume that Harding’s precedent was the driving force behind Ronald Reagan’s ridiculous attempts to convince idiots across the nation that was entirely clueless about the Iran/Contra Scandal. What Reagan and his true believers apparently failed to understand was that Harding’s ignorance really isn’t an improvement over actually being involved. I mean think of the choice this presents: Either you’ve got a President who is a criminal or you’ve got a President who doesn’t have the slightest idea what is going on in his own administration. Tough call, but I guess I’d rather have a criminal in the White House than an oblivious nimrod.

Ask and ye shall receive, huh?