True crimes

On former President George W. Bush and the serial-killer agenda

Dick Cheney is enjoying his retirement.

Dick Cheney is enjoying his retirement.

Illustration By jesse weidel

It’s not immediately apparent to the untrained observer, but former President George W. Bush and executed serial killer Ted Bundy have a lot in common. True, Bundy, who killed 35 known victims in the mid-1970s, almost all of them attractive female college students, can’t touch the former president when it comes to body count. Bush literally claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent lives during his eight-year reign.

However, set aside the numbers, and remarkable similarities between Bush and Bundy emerge. Like Bundy, Bush was abandoned by his father and raised by a strict, domineering mother. Both men worked on Republican political campaigns throughout their 20s. Bundy used his all-American good looks and a phony arm cast to bait his victims. In 2000, Bush campaigned as a “compassionate conservative,” the kind of guy you’d like to sit down and have a beer with, and became the first sociopath ever elected president.

In reality, Bush was a mean-spirited dry drunk—like Bundy, Bush is an alcoholic, though he now claims to abstain—who’d run every business he ever owned into the ground. He presided over 152 executions in Texas, a modern record for serial-killing governors that will likely never be broken. All of this was well known at the time, and so the question remains: How did Bush get away with it?

According to forensic psychiatrists, such cold-blooded killers walk among us undetected via a “mask of sanity.” In photos of Bundy from the 1970s, you can see this mask occasionally slip, revealing an obviously disturbed individual. Bush’s mask was famously lifted by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11. As Bush prepares to address the American people after 9/11, the camera zooms in, and the president’s pinched face pops and twitches uncontrollably in anticipation of the evildoing to come.

And Lord, did it ever come.

Just as Bundy pursued his victims across the states of Washington, Utah, Colorado and Florida, Bush cut through the world like a wraith. He illegally invaded Iraq, unleashing the full might of our military on 17 million inhabitants of a Third World country. Bush exploited the war on terror to put forth his serial-killer agenda. He not only condoned torture, he legalized it. He electronically stalked millions of American citizens without a warrant. He made plans to suspend freedom of the press and entertained using the military against U.S. civilians.

Presidential memos recently released by the Obama administration have shown that Berkeley law professor John Yoo was one of Bush’s chief legal enablers. Yoo’s work will one day hang in the serial-killer hall of fame, next to Ted Kaczynski’s anti-industrial manifesto and the Zodiac’s cryptograms, but placing all the blame on him is a bit like crediting Igor with Dr. Frankenstein’s work. There’s been some talk of charging Yoo with something, but at this point, it’s not clear if anyone else is going to be prosecuted for one of the most heinous crime sprees in U.S. history.

As the extent of Bush’s criminal enterprise has become clear, Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. John Conyers have called for a “truth commission” to get to the bottom of it all. The commission would have subpoena power, but would not be empowered to file criminal charges. In essence, Leahy and Conyers are proposing that as long as Bush and his enablers tell us where the bodies are buried, we won’t hang them from the nearest lamppost.

Near the end, Ted Bundy pulled the same act, promising from Florida’s death row to tell police officials from across the western United States where he’d disposed of an estimated 100 victims. For several years, he staved off execution, doling out bits and pieces of his crimes in third person to avoid officially confessing to them. Eventually, law-enforcement authorities, the general public and even the families of the undiscovered victims wearied of Bundy’s act. He was executed by electric chair in 1989.

Meanwhile, it looks like George W. Bush is going to get away with murder.