Numerous scandals have recently rocked the White House-- from Hurricane Katrina response to electronic surveillance without a warrant. Leaking classified information. And this was *before* the Vice President shot someone in the face with a shotgun. All of these scandals at the highest levels prompted me to refresh my understanding of the line of succession to the Presidency. It's not a pretty picture. When you are kind of intrigued by the idea of the Secretary of Agriculture becoming President, it's time to worry.
Here is the current line of succession to the Presidency:
1. Vice President Dick Cheney. The Rifleman. He might be indicted before the President. Next.
2. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois). He called for an investigation into who leaked information about secret CIA interrogation centers in Eastern Europe. He also accused
George Soros of being funded by "drug groups."
3. President pro tempore of the Senate, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). A tireless (and tiresome)advocate of oil drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Attempted to place appropriation for drilling in military spending bill, in violation of Senate rules. Obtained $223 million in federal funding for "bridge to nowhere," a bridge which would replace a 7-minute ferry trip in a sparsely populated area; furthermore, threatened to resign from the Senate if the money were redirected to Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts. Actually makes me long for the waning days of a senile Strom Thurmond.
4. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
"No one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon -- I'm paraphrasing now -- into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile."
"I believe the title was 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United
5. Secretary of the Treasury, John W. Snow.
President Bill Clinton left office in 2001 with a federal budget surplus of $127 billion. President George Bush ran a deficit of $319 billion in 2005. So who deserves more credit for fighting red ink? No question, says Treasury Secretary John Snow: It's his boss, Bush. Sipping a latte at a Starbucks coffee shop with reporters in Washington two days ago, he said that "the president's legacy will be one of having significantly reduced the deficit in his time,'' and said Clinton's budget was a "mirage'' and "wasn't a real surplus.'' (link)
Put down the crack pipe, John. I miss Bob Rubin. Sigh...
6. Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld. No body armor for you. Next.
7. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. The funny: "President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale." The not so funny: He has been a proponent and key architect of the (legally dubious) idea that the Authorization for War passed by Congress on September 14, 2001 gave the President near-absolute power, including the power to conduct domestic surveillance without a warrant.
8. Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton. I cannot take seriously anyone who will carry water for the "Clear Skies Initiative," the "Healthy Forests Initiative," or the denial of the existence of global warming. Next.
9. Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns. From the Onion: Secretary Of Agriculture Keeps Bragging He's Ninth In Line For The Presidency
. This is all I know about him, and already I like him better than anyone else on the list.
10. Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez. Ineligible, born in Cuba.
11. Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao. Ineligible, born in Taiwan. Bonus: Married to Mitch McConnell (R-Pork Barrel).
12. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt.
13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Alphonso Jackson.
14. Secretary of Transportation, Norman Y. Mineta. Really? Still?
15. Secretary of Energy, Samuel W. Bodman. Honestly, did you even know we *had* a Secretary of Energy?
16. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings.
17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Jim Nicholson.
All I want to know is: where's Barack Obama on the list? And how can we move him up?