Visualize a map of the United States, with each state colored according to the approval ratings it gave the president in the latest SurveyUSA, a poll funded by a consortium of media organizations. Those states in which more people approve than disapprove are colored pink (for mildly approve) or orange (for moderately approve). There are no red states, because there are no states in which the president's approval rating tops 60 percent.

But there are deep blue states, oh yes, because there are many states where the president's approval rating is less than 35 percent. I am proud to say that I live in one of those states. Even more disapproving than California is New York. Well, sure, you say: Those are the effete, gay-loving, Christ-hating coastal states. What of the heartland? What of the states that George Bush won in 2004?

Oops, they don't like him either. Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky: all blue. Texas is blue. Iowa is really blue, almost as blue as Illinois. Florida: blue. Colorado: blue. Isn't this fun? If this is not fun for you, move on.

Georgia: blue. Nevada: blue. We un-Bush people -- Democrats, Libertarians, conservationists, progressives, ozone-huggers and torture-haters -- have felt just a little abandoned recently. Now, it would appear, the pendulum has swung. (Memo to politicians of all persuasions: The pendulum always swings. The people you meet on the way up are the same people you meet on the way down. That's why arrogance is a bad idea; that's why hubris has such a bad rep.)

Surely it's not a clean sweep. Well, no, three states are still firmly in the president's camp: Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. The Sagebrush Rebellion lives on.
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Story here. Apparently Mr. Dorkwad got upset when some reporters remarked that he seemed "off his game" and tried to quit the press conference early.

I love how the BBC always manages to find and use the WORST photo possible. They do this in a lot of cases, not just stories about Shrub...but I especially love it when they do this to him.
Maureen Dowd is now, as of Monday, behind the screen of the new Times Select service. I'm on a 14 day free trial. I'm undecided if I'll keep it, just for one columnist, but, I shall see.

September 21, 2005
Message: I Can't
By MAUREEN DOWD

WASHINGTON

The president won't be happy until he dons a yellow slicker and actually takes the place of Anderson Cooper, violently blown about by Rita as he talks into a camera lens lashed with water, hanging onto a mailbox as he's hit by a flying pig in a squall, sucked up by a waterspout in the eye of the storm over the Dry Tortugas.

Then maybe he'll go back to the White House and do his job instead of running down to the Gulf Coast for silly disaster-ops every other day.

There's nothing more pathetic than watching someone who's out of touch feign being in touch. On his fifth sodden pilgrimage of penitence to the devastation he took so long to comprehend, W. desperately tried to show concern. He said he had spent some "quality time" at a Chevron plant in Pascagoula and nattered about trash removal, infrastructure assessment teams and the "can-do spirit."

"We look forward to hearing your vision so we can more better do our job," he said at a briefing in Gulfport, Miss., urging local officials to "think bold," while they still need to think mold.

Mr. Bush should stop posing in shirtsleeves and get back to the Oval Office. He has more hacks and cronies he's trying to put into important jobs, and he needs to ride herd on that.

The announcement that a veterinarian, Norris Alderson, who has no experience on women's health issues, would head the F.D.A.'s Office of Women's Health ran into so much flak from appalled women that the F.D.A. may have already reneged on it. No morning-after pill, thanks to the antediluvian administration, but there may be hope for a morning-after horse pill.

Mr. Bush made a frownie over Brownie, but didn't learn much. He's once more trying to appoint a nothingburger to a position of real consequence in homeland security. The choice of Julie Myers, a 36-year-old lawyer with virtually no immigration, customs or law enforcement experience, to head the roiling Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency with its $4 billion budget and 22,000 staffers, has caused some alarm, according to The Washington Post.

Ms. Myers's main credentials seem to be that she worked briefly for the semidisgraced homeland security director, Michael Chertoff, when he was at the Justice Department. She just married Mr. Chertoff's chief of staff, John Wood, and she's the niece of Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As a former associate for Ken Starr, the young woman does have impeachment experience, in case the forensic war on terrorism requires the analysis of stains on dresses.

Julie makes Brownie look like Giuliani. I'll sleep better tonight, knowing that when she gets back from her honeymoon, Julie will be patrolling the frontier.

As if the Veterinarian and the Niece were not bad enough, there was also the Accused. David Safavian, the White House procurement official involved in Katrina relief efforts, was arrested on Monday, accused by the F.B.I. of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into the seamy case of "Casino Jack" Abramoff, the Republican operative who has broken new ground in giving lobbying a bad name. Democrats say the fact that Mr. Safavian's wife is a top lawyer for the Republican congressman who's leading the whitewash of the White House blundering on Katrina does not give them confidence.

Just as he has stonewalled other inquiries, Mr. Bush is trying to paper over his Katrina mistakes by appointing his homeland security adviser, Frances Townsend, to investigate how the feds fumbled the response.

Mr. Bush's "Who's Your Daddy?" bravura - blowing off the world on global warming and the allies on the Iraq invasion - has been slapped back by Mother Nature, which refuses to be fooled by spin.

When Donald Rumsfeld came out yesterday to castigate the gloom-and-doomers and talk about the inroads American forces had made against terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, he could not so easily recast reality.

In Afghanistan, the U.S.'s handpicked puppet president is still battling warlords and a revivified Taliban, and the export of poppies for the heroin trade is once more thriving.

Iraq is worse, with more than 1,900 American troops killed. Five more died yesterday, as well as four security men connected to the U.S. embassy office in Mosul, all to fashion a theocratic-leaning regime aligned with Iran. In Basra, two journalists who have done work for The Times have been killed in the last two months.

The more the president echoes his dad's "Message: I care," the more the world hears "Message: I can't."

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