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Special 2004 Election Collectors' Issue


by Drew Atkins

When Democrats think of George W. Bush, they probably think of some pretty disturbing stuff. They think of that kid who spent his days burning ants and toy soldiers with a magnifying glass, the kid everyone worried about in the back of their minds. They think of unilateral warfare, corporate interests, and words like “freedom” thrown around like cheap confetti. But do they think of comic book character Iron Man? Despite the plethora of connections between the two, they probably don’t.

If you didn’t squander your youth at comic book shops like yours truly, you might not know who Iron Man is. In a nut, Iron Man is the alter ego of wealthy industrialist Tony Starks. Think of him as a more hi-tech version of Batman, in that he’s a rich guy that uses expensive toys to fight crime. Starks built himself an elaborate suit of armor capable of flying, equipped it with enough firepower to conquer Europe, and then started beating people up in it. That’s his story.

Starks, who will henceforth be referred to as Iron Man because it sounds better, leads two lives. In one, he is the supposedly heroic crusader for justice. In the other, he is the CEO of a company that manufactures weapons technology. The more warfare there is in the world, the more he stands to gain. The same could be said of Bush and his administration.

Besides the political benefits a president usually reaps while his country is at war, Bush’s ties to war profiteering are more direct than any president in recent memory. His father worked for the Carlyle Group, where he served as senior advisor until last October. The Carlyle Group is the eleventh largest defense contractor in the US. This is not to mention the moody and mysterious Dick Cheney, who, rumor has it, ate human babies during his time under Reagan. In September of last year, Dick Cheney told CNN that he “had no financial interest in Halliburton.” According to CBS News, Dick Cheney still possesses over 430,000 shares of Halliburton stock. Halliburton was awarded no-bid contracts in post-war Iraq worth billions of dollars, sure to boost the value of the aforementioned stocks.

And so we dive headfirst into a sea of Iron Man and Bush connections. For starters, Iron Man did not found Starks Industrial, the company he heads; his father did. Iron Man just inherited the position after his dad left. The similarity here to Bush is so obvious it almost hurts to write, but even the most ardent Republican will admit that Bush the Second wouldn’t be sitting in the Oval Office if it weren’t for his father. He is a member of a political dynasty.

Iron Man had serious problems in the past with alcoholism. Though he’s never ingested narcotics like the president most likely has, their former love of the drink is the same. At one point Iron Man was hammered on such a constant basis that he could no longer operate his suit. Having money to burn, he hired someone else to fight in his place. This is comparable to the president, who was so busy partying in the 60s that he didn’t have time to go fight in Vietnam. He remained here in the States instead, whooping it up in the Texas National Guard as a member of the “Champagne Unit”, so named for the number of prominent Texans who enrolled their sons in it.

Like Bush, there is something about Iron Man’s altruism that doesn’t ring true. It’s easy to see where Batman got his zeal for vigilante justice—his parents were murdered by criminals and the police did nothing about it. For Iron Man it’s a total mystery. Does he get his jollies beating people up and dropping bombs in an invincible suit of armor? Does he think it will make people like him more? Does he have emotional issues? Similarly, one must wonder why Bush cares so much about liberating the people of Iraq. There are oppressed people all over the world he doesn’t give a damn about, and plenty of countries more likely to attack the United States. What is it about the Iraqi people that endear them to Bush? Did they bake him a cake? Write him a nice note? We may never know.

This is not to say differences don’t exist between Iron Man and Bush. There are tons. For example, Iron Man is capable of launching photon missiles from his arms. Bush can’t do this, as much as he’d probably like to. He has to use the phone to get missiles launched. Bush is also incapable of firing lasers from the palms of his hands.

Iron Man started his killing career in the jungles of Vietnam. Bush started and continues his in a plush office. As governor of Texas he executed 152 people, more people than any other governor in US history. As president, he’s been dropping bombs for almost the entirety of his term.

Furthermore, killing people doesn’t seem to really bother Bush like it occasionally does Iron Man. In a 2000 campaign debate, the moderator asked him about an incident in Texas where a court-appointed lawyer slept through most of his client’s capital punishment trial. Bush is recorded as chuckling. Bush is also on the record as mocking a woman’s final plea for her life in an interview with Talk magazine.

Bush claims he received “gentlemen Cs” in his classes at Yale, which is a nice way of saying he got flunking grades. Iron Man, despite being born into privilege, worked exceedingly hard in school. Possessing a strong work ethic and genius level intelligence, he enrolled in MIT at the age of 15 and personally invented a great deal of technological innovations, including his Iron Man suit. Bush half-assed his way through life, failed at business over and over, and still made it to the top of the political ladder. He’s an inspiration to mediocre, well-connected people everywhere.

In conclusion, both Iron Man and Bush are misunderstood. Iron Man is widely considered a good guy because of his tendency to fight bad guys. He’s called a hero, despite the fact that he probably loves blowing things up like a mother loves her child. Bush’s single-minded determination towards certain goals and his tenuous grasp of the English language are often interpreted to mean he’s a straight shooter, though all evidence points to the contrary. While outwardly Bush and Iron Man may seem like decent Americans like you and me, a closer look reveals the opposite: they are two thoroughly twisted individuals.

Drew Atkins is the editor-in-chief of Knock, a humor magazine published at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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