By now, everybody’s probably familiar with the sequence of events:

  1. Energy bill passes with promises of funding for renewables research.
  2. Cuts in actual funding for renewables research.
  3. State of the Union speech with big promises of funding for renewables research.
  4. Budget shortfalls force firing of 32 researchers at National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
  5. Bush launches PR tour to tout energy proposals, schedules visit to NREL.
  6. Weekend prior to visit, Energy Department scrambles to rehire 32 researchers.

    Now here’s the part that really amazes me:

  7. Bush visits NREL, laments "mixed signals," and says this: "The issue, of course, is whether good intentions are met with actual dollars spent. … I think we have cleared up the discrepancy."

“I think we have cleared up the discrepancy.”

It’s like the distinction between substance and perception is just invisible to him. It verges on autistic.

Update [2006-2-22 14:18:33 by David Roberts]: Actually, let me put in more of the quote, since in some ways it’s even more incredible:

I recognize that there has been some interesting, let me say, mixed signals when it comes to funding. The issue of course is whether or not good intentions are met with actual dollars spent. Part of the issue we face, unfortunately, is that there are sometimes decisions made as a result of the appropriations process, where money may not end up where it is supposed to have gone.

Matt Yglesias responds:

I say the government is being run by idiots. There are sometimes decisions made as a result of the appropriations process, where money may not end up where it is supposed to have gone? The MBA presidency? The grownups are back in charge?

The whole episode is really mind-boggling, if one was still capable of bogglement at this point.