Published on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 in the Madison Capital Times
Bush Daughters Handled With Kid Gloves
by Dave Zweifel
When George and Laura Bush's teenage daughters, Jenna and Barbara, got into trouble for underage drinking and fake IDs, the White House spinmeisters told us, first, that it was no big deal and, besides, the young women were being singled out for harsher-than-normal treatment because they are the president's kids.
That, according to former Texas ag commissioner Jim Hightower, is a bunch of bunk.
They were singled out all right, Hightower writes in the most recent issue of his little newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, but singled out for lenient treatment, not the other way around as the Bush administration would like Americans to believe.
"I called the county attorney's office and found that at the time of the Bush incident, the county attorney had more than 150 active cases of teens who had been arrested by the police for doing what Jenna and Barbara did," he reports. "These kids were charged, as the law requires, with a Class B misdemeanor."
But that's where the similarity ends.
"The non-Bush teens not only were arrested, they were also hauled to jail, booked, and put in a cell until they could make bail, usually about a 12-hour ordeal," Hightower writes. "It's the routine procedure."
That, of course, is not the way it went for the Bush daughters. Rather, when the city police, who had been called by the nightclub management, arrived to check on the report of the false ID, a Secret Service agent tapped an officer on the shoulder to explain who the women were. While the city police called headquarters to find out how to proceed in this unusual case, the Secret Service moved Jenna and Barbara out of the bar and into an SUV waiting outside.
The police, however, warned the Bush daughters not to leave until they checked with their supervisor and they got Jenna to turn over the false ID.
According to Hightower, who filed a freedom of information action to see the reports, the officer wrote that "Jenna started crying and stated that I do not have any idea what it is like to be a college student and not be able to do anything that other students get to do."
"Well now, Jenna, let's see," Hightower says. "One thing that other students would have gotten to do is go directly to jail and made to make bail before getting out. But seeing as how you and Barbara are Bush kids, the police brass instructed (the officers at the scene) to turn you loose without even writing a ticket, telling the officers that your case would be handled by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission."
That commission, Hightower tells us, has never before handled a case like this, and besides, it just happens to be composed entirely of members appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush.
"Guess what? Far from being harassed by authorities, as the Bush political operatives had whined, the normally stern authorities bent over backwards to give Jenna and Barbara sweetheart treatment," he adds.
"Perhaps you feel that being dragged to jail for a teenage drinking offense is much too hard a punishment for anyone. No argument here. Yet the Texas governor who signed the law making the very violation a Class B offense was - you guessed it - George W. He signed the get-tough law in September of 1999 as part of the buildup for his presidential run."
Copyright 2001 The Capital Times