Can't see the forest

Published October 9, 2004 5:57PM (EDT)

Is it just our imaginations running away with us or was the debate audience last night in St. Louis one tough crowd? Every time President Bush tried to hammer home a point and the camera panned back to the questioner, the look on his or her face was, "I'm so not buying this." All right, maybe some topics left audience members more stone-faced than others. But when the president said, "We proposed and passed a healthy forest bill to make sure that our forests were protected," War Room does believe the audience was collectively muttering, "Gag me, sir, with a spoon."

After all, 80 percent of the country call themselves environmentalists and have a passing familiarity with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has called the president's "Healthy Forest Initiative" a "giveaway to industry because it will make it easier for timber companies to log big trees in the name of fire prevention, while doing little to reduce wildfire risks for at-risk communities." Amy Mall, a forest policy expert with NRDC, has remarked that the pen that Bush used to ink the initiative "might as well be a chainsaw."

By Kevin Berger

Kevin Berger is the former features editor at Salon.

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