Low Concept

George W. Bush: The Audit

A green-eyeshade accounting of the president’s political capital.

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To: George W. Bush Enterprises, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
From: KPMG
Re: Audit of Political Capital Accounts

We identified a number of questions during our review of your account. Although we realize you are eager to “spend political capital,” with the Enron trial currently under way we think it is important to avoid any issues that might catch the attention of regulators, the media, or short-sellers such as Francis Fukuyama. Also, under our consent decree with the Justice Department, we promised to “stop violating accounting standards for real this time.”


  1. We’re having trouble reconciling assets and liabilities (we ran the numbers three times and still couldn’t come up with the positive balance you reported). Do you have a single person responsible for managing this account we might talk to? Is it still Mr. Rove?
  2. We think you may have overstated earnings in November 2004. While assets may be depressed due to “market panic,” it seems unlikely they will recover to 2004 levels. And frankly, it’s time to write off some, such as Social Security reform, that have been “under water” for a while now.
  3. Anticipated income from specific investments can no longer be reported before it has been fully realized (so called “mark-to-market” accounting). Can you clarify whether the earnings you claimed in 2003 and 2004 from your Iraq holdings—”Spreading democracy in the Middle East” and “Restoring U.S. prestige”—actually occurred? If not, can they be reasonably anticipated before 2009? (Please note, after that date they cannot accrue to this account.)
  4. We have moved some assets to the liability column (Mr. Claude Allen, Ms. H. Meirs). Others appear highly troubled (e.g., the Medicare Drug Benefit, Donald Rumsfeld) and may need to be revalued or reorganized.
  5. The “10,000 slot-machine tokens for the Choctaw Indian Casino” from Jack Abramoff are not sufficiently liquid to claim under “Assets,” notwithstanding your assertion that “one of them is bound to hit the Triple Seven Inferno.” You also list 20 million Pounds Sterling attributed to “T. Blair.” Was this a gift or a loan? We don’t see any record of him having received anything in return since his 2003 contribution.
  6. 2005 losses from Hurricane Katrina appear to have been moved to an off-balance partnership with one “Michael Brown, Esq.” They need to stay on your own balance sheet, as he no longer seems willing to absorb the full losses.
  7. We strongly recommend stronger financial controls to track capital expenditures. Would it be possible to require someone else to co-sign Mr. Cheney’s spending from this account?
  8. Under “best and customary accounting practices,” you can no longer credit corporate campaign contributions directly to political capital (please see preliminary filings in State of Texas v. DeLay).
  9. Sen. McCain appears willing to make a short-term loan to help with your cash-flow problems. Given your outstanding balance with him from 2004, he will probably expect a substantial payout by 2008. Unfortunately, we can’t find any other Republicans with excess capital to lend at present (and some are also in the market for loans like you).
  10. In conclusion, we don’t think your available political capital is sufficient to support substantial new expenditures, especially in riskier foreign investments (we know you have expressed interest in something in Iran). You do have enough for some additional small-scale domestic initiatives such as your proposals to ban human-animal hybrids and to develop alternative fuels from switch grass. Is there anything more to do about steroids in baseball?  

P.S.: You have listed a brother “Jeb Bush” as the sole beneficiary of your accounts. He will need to give his formal approval to this. Does he understand he would be at risk for any enduring liabilities?