By Arun Kumar
Washington : India and well may be China too were at the top of his mind as President George Bush packed his bags for next week's G-8 summit with a plan of his own to combat global warming. For all of six years that he has been in the White House, he had questioned the very science behind this global warming thing. But now that he had warmed up to the idea and sought to take the lead in fighting it, Bush found the Europeans a bit cool.
It was no move to steal his German host's thunder, he hastened to assure Chancellor Angela Merkel who is at the forefront of those who want to set tougher norms for industrialised nations as he invoked India and China.
He only wanted the two emerging economic powerhouses, and may be 4-5 others on the threshold too, made a part of the solution, for without them everything would come to naught. "The United States takes this issue seriously," said Bush as he sought to rope in what the media quickly dubbed the "Greenhouse Gas 15".
But just as Bush was about to wheel out his new improved "G-15" plan for G-8, US space agency NASA's chief Michael Griffin questioned the very need to "wrestle with" this problem. He found it "rather arrogant" for some humans to decide that today's climate is the best climate for all human beings.
That and Bush's plan for setting only "aspirational goals" aroused critics suspicions particularly since the president wants the G-15 to come up with something by the end of 2008 – weeks before he leaves office.
Bush calculated he has 19 months to do it even as a reporter insisted it was only 18. He was right on time, but would his calculations to leave an imprint on the world stage with this 'plan B' come to a naught too if the other deal he so badly wanted – the nuclear one with India – gets too hot to handle?
Bush gets hot on immigration deal
Global warming isn't the only thing Bush is warming up to these days. He is pretty hot on his immigration deal too. The one he worked out with the opposition Democrats to set out a tortuous path to citizenship for an estimated 12 million people, including some 300,000 Indians, who have sneaked in over the years without any papers.
He cannot run for the White House in 2008, but he has hit the campaign trail in a manner of saying, cajoling supporters and chiding his own Republicans for trying to "frighten people" and egging them to "show courage and resolve" to face their outraged conservative voters.
Critics were just nitpicking and scaring people by raising the "amnesty" bogey. They haven't even read the bill, he suggested, and were opposing it merely because "it might make somebody else look good!"
Notwithstanding Bush barbs, critics and supporters of the plan alike are none too happy with the new deal that favours advanced skills, college degrees and English-speaking ability over family ties unlike the system adopted since 1965 to award green cards.
Yet high-tech firms fear they may not get all the techies they want from India as everyone will have to get in line under a controversial points system and employers suggest that it would not let them bring enough workers to meet their needs.
If "Amnesty" remains a major problem for the Republicans, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finds it "disruptive of families". Thus what Bush calls the best chance to fix the nation's broken immigration system may be a long way off.
But even if it indeed becomes law, wags suggest it may yet fall apart on its own if the illegal immigrants themselves prefer 'business as usual' to the bother of paying fees and fines and costly journeys home.
Gore gets going again!
With Bush at it now, the original "global warming warrior" too is flexing his muscles again. "The Goracle", as Bill Clinton's vice president Al Gore is sometimes called, has come out with a sequel to his "An Inconvenient Truth".
If the Oscar winning movie was about global warming, his latest tome, "The Assault on Reason" is one long lament about the man who beat him to the White House in 2000 with just a few hanging 'chads'.
The launch of the book has revived speculation that Gore may run again for the presidency in 2008, a prospect he does not dismiss entirely. Some suggest that it was the prime reason for writing the book for one does not jump into the choppy waters of a presidential run with a book about global warming.
Many agree with his assertions about his bete noire. The Bushies manipulated the facts on the Iraq war and a lot many other things, the public fell for it all too easily and Americans watch too much television!
But he does not say so in so many words. He writes about this and that and something called "Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging" and the "architectural breakthrough associated with massive parallelism" in equally esoteric terms.
He is one smart cookie as his legions of admirers say. But that critics suggest may become his problem. For if Bush known for his Bushisms was considered "Too Stupid to be President", yet made it, Gore may be too smart for it as people don't relish those who make them feel stupid!
Indians are different!
Emmy-winning American comedian "Jay" Leno, who hosts NBC television's long-running variety and talk programme 'The Tonight Show', had his own take on the Bush immigration deal.
"Immigration is the big issue; proponents say we need immigrants from Mexico to take the jobs Americans don't want to do. Now, don't confuse that with India, where the people are taking the jobs Americans want to do. That's totally different," he quipped in a recent show.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])