His methods aren't anywhere near as savage or as bloody as the more notorious of his ilk. He is certainly not driven by the normal motives of his type. He bares no resemblance to the stereotypical killers of the tabloid press.

He dresses quite conservatively and is for all intense and purpose your average every day businessman, who would be lost in a crowd of suits and briefcases.

But whatever he may lack in brutality, he more than makes up for in efficiency. In fact his grisly totals far outstrip the likes of a John Wayne Gacy or a Ted Bundy combined.

His weapon of choice is an intravenous tube - no muss, no fuss and no tortured screams. The victim, strapped to a hospital gurney, simply slips off to sleep and never wakes up.

As is the practice with his kind, most of his victims fit a very narrow profile. They are overwhelmingly male (only two have been women), minority and almost exclusively poor.

And rather than remaining in the shadows of society to conduct his gruesome labors, this serial killer refuses to hide and makes no qualms about his penchant for taking lives. In fact, he’s downright proud of his skills, which have not only served him well by his own estimation, but he would undoubtedly say have contributed greatly to the success he’s enjoyed in his chosen line of work; as Governor of the State of Texas.

That’s right, the man who is currently seeking the highest elective office in this land, an individual who has assured us that he is the one to return ''morality,'' ''integrity,'' ''character,'' and ''political civility'' to that lofty position, is also one of the nation’s most accomplished killers.

Gov. George W. Bush, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has, since first becoming governor of the Lone Star State in 1994, officiated and/or signed off on more executions (125) than probably any other elected official in U.S. history.

Even ''Indian Territory’s'' notorious ''Hanging Judge,'' the famous Isaac C. Parker, who dispatched miscreants in the closing decades of the 19th century, took more than two decades to eliminate a grand total of 79 men.

Now if Gov. Bush were even slightly reticent about his well-documented body count, it would seem that this accomplishment would not normally become anything more than a footnote in the upcoming national campaign.

However, as he readily admits, Gov. Bush isn't the least bit bashful about how many individuals he's sent to the ''long journey gurney,'' as the instrument of execution is often referred to in Texas.

So, don't be surprised if we hear a lot more about this ghoulish subject in coming months.

And we also shouldn't be surprised if we hear a goodly amount on this topic from Gov. Bush himself, who has been quick to explain that his actions, which have accounted for more than twice as many executions than any other state in the union since capital punishment was reinstated in this country in the 1970s, are simply a matter of carrying out the wishes of the good citizens of the great state of Texas.

During the recent national debate over the somewhat erratic use of this ultimate penalty in the United States, Gov. Bush continued to stand by his state’s blistering pace of executions which races far ahead of the other 49 states combined, insisting he has never had the slightest doubt about the correctness and/or morality of what he is doing.

He also stands by the infallibility of the criminal justice system in the state of Texas, pointing out that of the 120-plus executions he’s presided over as the state’s chief executive and ''court of last resort,'' each and every one was the result of both an exhaustive and exact string of legal proceedings and appeals. The governor is unequivocal in his assertion that the courts in Texas have made no mistakes on this point.

In short Gov. Bush is ''dead certain'' of his firmly ensconced position upon the moral high ground in this debate.

''Everybody who’s been executed (in Texas),'' claims Bush, ''is guilty of the crime of which they've been convicted.'' And he quickly adds that each of those so convicted has had ''full access to the courts.''

But the records aren't near as certain on this point as the governor. Despite his claims of extensive judicial review in such cases, Gov. Bush's hand-picked parole board is said to have spent just a matter of minutes on many of these cases. It is obvious that his clemency body takes its cues on capital cases from the man who appointed its members.

Meanwhile, the post conviction review board in that state was shut down five years ago, shortly after the current governor took office, and there is no ''public-defender'' service in operation in Texas.

When the state legislature unanimously tried to correct the public-defender deficiency, by implementing some sort of program to improve the state's woeful handling of cases for indigent defendants, Gov. Bush vetoed the measure.

But we continue to be assured by the governor that there is nothing to fear about the way he or the state of Texas dispenses its justice.

And who could doubt this pillar of character and integrity, who by his own admission abhors the deceit, depravity and debauchery of the current occupant of the office he would covet.

This man who paints himself a ''compassionate conservative,'' also assures us that he anguishes over and never takes lightly the awesome power of life and death inherent in his current office. He certainly hasn't let the fact that he's had to summon up that supposed anguish, perhaps more than any other governor in America's 200-plus years of existence, diminish the seriousness by which he undertakes such decisions.

But just how serious does he take his duties? In an interview late last year, Gov. Bush openly mocked one of his victims -- Karla Faye Tucker. He tried to explain his decision in the Tucker execution, which he refused to postpone despite calls for clemency from as far away as the Vatican and as politically close to him as the Christian Right, to a stunned national magazine writer by making outright fun of the woman's final pleas.

According to the interviewer, who claims to have been shocked by the spectacle, Gov. Bush, with pursed lips and in a feigned teary voice, jokingly paraphrased Tucker as begging for her life with a, ''Please, don't kill me.''

So, this then is the man who anguishes over his weighty decisions to take another human being’s life in each of the 124 instances where that has become necessary?

My dictionary defines the terms ''character'' and ''integrity'' just a little differently. And none of those definitions include making fun of people in such a manner, no matter how heinous their crimes.

But Gov. Bush would assert that weak-willed middle-aged men who have sexual relations with 21-year-old White House interns are somehow beneath a man who obviously has such a strange sense of humor.

One is left to wonder, just how many other of those he's let go to the gallows have also undergone the added humiliation of having been the brunt of such jokes?

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online June 6, 2000

Back to The Zephyr