WASHINGTON, DCIn his State of the Union address to the nation last night, President Bush announced a new cabinet-level position to coordinate all current and future scandals facing his party.
"Tonight, by executive order, I am creating a permanent department with a vital mission: to ensure that the political scandals, underhanded dealings, and outright criminal activities of this administration are handled in a professional and orderly fashion," Bush said.
The centerpiece of Bush's plan is the Department Of Corruption, Bribery, And Incompetence, which will centralize duties now dispersed throughout the entire D.C.-area political establishment.
The Scandal Secretary will log all wiretaps and complaints of prisoner abuse, coordinate paid-propaganda efforts, eliminate redundant payoffs and bribes, oversee the appointment of unqualified political donors to head watchdog agencies, control all leaks and other high-level security breaches, and oversee the disappearance of Iraq reconstruction funds. He will also be responsible for issuing all official denials that laws have been broken.
"Many of the current scandals in Washington are crucial to the success of my priorities for the nation," Bush said. "The Department of Corruption will safeguard these important misdeeds."
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card characterized the president's announcement as part of a larger effort to usher in a "new era of scandal management."
"The entire DCBI budget will come from private donors and investors, through an illegal slush fund," he said. "The money we'll save by eliminating redundancies and reducing scandal-related overhead will come back to citizens tenfold in the form of offshore corporate tax savings."
The Scandal Secretary will choose the elected official or business leader who will assume full responsibility for each scandal once it reaches fruition. His department will pen all tearful apologies and plea agreements and make all necessary arrangements for the designated scapegoat's transition to a think tank, consultancy, law-partner position, or, if unavoidable, cursory stint in a minimum-security prison. Scapegoats who cannot be placed will be given oversight positions within the Department of Corruption itself.
Congressional supporters of the post expressed hope that the new secretary will bring a sense of order and accountability to what has so far been a fragmented, inconsistent set of controversies.
"Every week, it feels like another new scandal breaks," said F. Tyler Jones, a convicted felon and Texas oil executive who has been cited as a leading candidate for a position within the new department. "Washington needs to run a tighter ship and get all this corruption in order. It should feel less like a weekly thing and more like once a month."
"Quality's been going down, too," Jones said. "You can't just slap 'gate' on the end of something and call it a scandal. We need higher standards in this countrywe used to lead the world, you know."
Many conservatives have criticized Bush's proposal, saying that it only creates more big government.
"Teapot Dome and the fraud scandals of the Grant Administration proceeded splendidly without government oversight," National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg said. "Officials received kickbacks and granted favors without any knowledge beyond their circle until after the fact. They knew what they were doing and didn't need any oversight. We need to return to the days when unfettered capitalism and enlightened self-interest led the way."
Bush defenders, however, said today's corruption scandals are far too complex to be allowed to take an unregulated course.
"We can't afford to have the American people lose faith in the government's ability to spearhead an effective scandal," TV commentator Sean Hannity said. "The sheer number of major scandals has gone way up in the past few yearsbut the level of scandal coordination has remained at Clinton-era levels. The system is obsolete. Plain and simple. I for one applaud Bush for bringing corruption management into the 21st century."