Saturday, January 08, 2005

Dick Cheney's asbestos BVDs

Dubya has taken time out from his busy schedule of making Iraq safe for IEDs, exterminating Social Security and promoting torturers to defend the downtroddenest of the downtrodden -- asbestos makers.

Claiming that asbestos lawsuits clog the courts and cost jobs, President Bush urged Congress Friday to change the way people are compensated for illness caused by the deadly material. "The system isn't fair right now," Bush said.

"It's not fair to those who are getting sued and it's not fair for those who justly deserve compensation," said Bush, appearing at a performing arts center just north of Detroit. He claimed that companies have been forced into bankruptcy because of asbestos-related litigation that has cost the nation about $80 billion -- the majority of which is not seen by victims but swallowed up by legal and processing fees.

"These asbestos suits have bankrupted a lot of companies and that affects the workers here in Michigan and around the country," said the president, sitting in front of a prop that displayed the scales of justice and the message "Ending Lawsuit Abuse."

Attentive readers might remember the connection between asbestos, a certain cussing, infarct-prone Vice President, and the beneficiary of a few gazillion-dollar no bid government contracts:

Analysts, however, are far more worried about Halliburton's potential liability for more than 300,000 pending claims by people who blame the company for their exposure to asbestos, a heat-resistant material with fibers that can cause lung disease if inhaled.

The burgeoning asbestos problem has caused critics to question the hallmark of Cheney's five years at the helm of Halliburton: the $7.7 billion acquisition of rival Dresser Industries Inc. in 1998.

The deal doubled Halliburton's size overnight and allowed it to claim it was the world's leading oilfield-services company. But most of Halliburton's current asbestos claims were inherited from Dresser.

And let us not forget that Mr. Cheney still retains a significant financial interest in Halliburton's well-being.

A report by the Congressional Research Service undermines Vice President Dick Cheney's denial of a continuing relationship with Halliburton Co., the energy company he once led, Sen. Frank Lautenberg said Thursday.

The report says a public official's unexercised stock options and deferred salary fall within the definition of "retained ties" to his former company.

In the Bush White House, "conflict of interest" means two simultaneous ball games and no Tivo.


Blogger hardcle said...

I agree that there's something fishy going on here, I've mentioned it on my own blog. It should be noted, however, that four days earlier Halliburton settled its asbestos claims.

2:53 PM  

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