Talk about smirking The corporate media never tired of being unfair to Al Gore in 2000, misquoting or ignoring things that he said, attributing to him things that he didn’t say, mocking everything from his choice of clothing to his kissing his wife. This year, it was Howard Dean that got the presshounds’ hackles up. He was too short, too loud, too Democratic. They haven’t stopped just because Dean’s candidacy and the election are long over, either. Here is the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporting on a meeting of Dean and former President Clinton at a Little Rock reception: “The two embraced and shook hands, but afterward, Dean kept tight-lipped on their conversation. ‘I never reveal a confidential conversation with the president,’ Dean said with a smirk. ‘But we were talking strategy about how we can win the next time.’ “ Smirking now, is he, the little loudmouth. What nerve. But it’s rather nervy too for a newspaper to be reporting on somebody else’s smirk when the Lord of the Smirks, the Smirker in Chief, the Barry Bonds of Smirkers, is in town. George W. Bush says everything with a smirk, from “My fellow Americans” to “Amen,” and the Democrat-Gazette does not remark on it. Maybe the D-G sees compassionate smirking. One sees what one wants to, one supposes. Bush v. Clinton The dedication of the Clinton library was not the place for making odious comparisons aloud, but doubtless many of those present reflected quietly on the differing accomplishments of Clinton and his successor. Some that come to mind: During the Clinton years, poverty fell by 25.2 percent. Since Bush took office, poverty has risen 10 percent. Clinton created more jobs than any single president since the ’20s. Nearly 500,000 jobs have been lost under Bush, making him the first president since Hoover to end his term with fewer jobs available than when he began. In 2000, median weekly wages grew by 4.9 percent. Under Bush, wage growth has fallen dramatically — to 2.0 percent in 2003. This means that when adjusted for inflation, wages fell slightly in real terms for the first time since 1996. Under Clinton, the government had its first budget surpluses since 1969, and its largest surpluses on record. Bush has reversed the trend, compiling a record deficit of $422 billion. The number of Americans without health insurance has increased by more than 5 million under Bush; the average family premium for health insurance has increased by more than $2,700. One-third of Bush’s tax cuts have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, so that more of the tax burden has been shifted from the very rich to middle-class families. After four years of Bush, the average American has nothing to smirk about — or smile, even.