cover image Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush

Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush

Molly Ivins. Random House Inc, $19.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-375-50399-3

Colorful, popular and very Texan syndicated columnist Ivins (Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?) takes on Republican front-runner ""Dubya"" Bush in this short, informative, fun and obviously partisan political biography. The book is designed to make liberal readers laugh (and vote) and to make moderates change their minds. Behind the down-home style and tasty jokes, Ivins and DuBose (who edits the Texas Observer) lay out plenty of well-documented dirt on GWB's career--though it isn't nose candy they're after: instead, the authors make a case that the affable governor has climbed ladders, traded favors, bent rules and enriched himself, without doing much for the people he governs. W.'s oil ventures ""lost more than $2 million of other people's money,"" netted him $840,000 and tied him to international banking scandals, say the authors. Former Texas governor Ann Richards, plus settlements from tobacco litigation, they say, brought the state the fiscal well-being for which W. takes credit. The authors claim that he's spent his own term repaying political favors, ""protect[ing] major air polluters,"" ending successful drug treatment programs, hurting the working poor and executing the mentally retarded. For Ivins and DuBose, ""Dubya's"" real accomplishments--besides his last name--lie in his sense of political timing and positioning: while his views make him ""a CEO's wet dream,"" his manner, his often-touted religious beliefs and his savvy advisers help him appeal to ""gay-bashing gun-toters"" too. Ivins combines a liberal worldview, a sense of the ridiculous and a just-folks delivery--and enough work like hers might just derail the Bush train. But don't bet on it: ""This guy is not just lucky: if they tried to hang him, the rope would break."" First serial to Time magazine. (Feb.)