[media id=7031] From The Rachel Maddow Show Dec. 29, 2008. Sadly as someone who has read Molly Ivins' book Bushwhacked and after watching the debac
December 31, 2008

From The Rachel Maddow Show Dec. 29, 2008. Sadly as someone who has read Molly Ivins' book Bushwhacked and after watching the debacle during Hurricane Katrina, nothing any Bush appointee does surprises me very much.

But first, it‘s time for a few underreported “holy mackerel” stories in today‘s news. The “Washington Post” front-pages a story today on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, the part of the federal government that deals with workplace safety. They provide information about workplace hazards. They regulate workplace conditions so that they are safer.

Of course, in the Bush administration, OSHA does a lot less of that. They do 86 percent less of that, if you want to be precise here. OSHA under President Bush issued 86 percent fewer significant workplace safety rules and regulations than OSHA under Bill Clinton. Now, that‘s not necessarily a big political surprise. Republicans are the pro-corporation, anti-regulation party even when they can‘t really agree on anything else.

But what is a surprise about OSHA under President Bush which we learned in today‘s “Washington Post” is—I‘m not actually sure that I can improve on the facts as they are presented in today‘s “Washington Post” article by the reporter, R. Jeffrey Smith.

Quote, “In 2006, Bush‘s first OSHA director, a former Monsanto employee was replaced by Edwin G. Foulke Jr., a South Carolina lawyer and former Bush fundraiser who spent years defending companies cited by OSHA for safety and health violations. Foulke quickly acquired a reputation inside the Labor Department as a man who literally fell asleep on the job.

Eyewitnesses said they saw him suddenly doze off at staff meetings, during teleconferences, in one-on-one briefings, at retreats involving senior deputies, on the dais at the conference, at an awards ceremony for a corporation, and during an interview with candidate for deputy regional administrator.

His top aides said they rustled papers, wore attention-getting garb, they pounded the table for emphasis or gently kicked his leg, all to keep him awake. But if these tactics failed, sometimes they just continued talking as if he were awake - ‘We‘ll be sitting there and things will fall out of his hands; people will go on talking like nothing ever happened,‘ said a career official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to a reporter.

In an interview, Foulke denied falling asleep at work, although he said he was often tired and sometimes listened with his eyes closed,” end quote.

Listening with his eyes closed? The man George Bush put in charge or keeping your workplace safe, America. Twenty-one days left - 21 days.

And the Republican Party is having a little bit of trouble settling on its leadership for its post-Bush, post McCain-Palin rebuilding period. There are, at last count, roughly 400,000 people running to be the next chairman or chairwoman of the Republican Party, if you round off for the nearest 400,000.

Honestly, I don‘t know. It‘s very hard to tell how many people are actually running for RNC chair. But there are a lot, and it‘s turning out to be sort of an exciting race. One reason why is that RNC chair is the only national leadership job in the Republican Party now.

The White House and House of Representatives and the Senate will all be headed by Democrats starting very soon. Also, the question of whether or not Republicans can find their voice as the loyal, honorable opposition to the nation‘s first black president is turning out way more comically difficult for them that might have been expected.

First, there was the South Carolina Republican Party chairman who had to resign his long-term membership in a whites-only country club. Now, another candidate, the former Tennessee party chairman, has sent out as a holiday gift, a parody song about Barack Obama called “Barack the Magic Negro.”

RNC candidate Chip Saltsman‘s defense to the inevitable outrage here is that “Barack, The Magic Negro” is hilarious. You stay classy, GOP, don‘t ever change.

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