COLUMBUS _ ``I am bitter,'' said Uncle Chet, at the wheel of his silver Ford Ranger, idling along a dirt road on a warm spring afternoon, looking for a real-estate sign.
``When I think how they've shipped our jobs overseas, cheapened the dollar, looted the treasury for a trumped-up war, it turns my stomach in a knot,'' he said as the narrow road curved and rose up a brush-covered hill.
He gave it a little gas.
``I can't even think about it at night or it keeps me up.'' He glanced my way. ``The bitterest part is how they're getting away with it!''
``True,'' I said.
``Cheney meets secretly with energy execs, oil begins to rise from $30 to $115 a barrel, but there's no talk of collusion.''
``There is, but it's whispered,'' I said.
``Well, I want to hear it shouted. I want to see arrests and trials and the same kind of justice they mete out when someone steals a candy bar.''
``Watch where you're going,'' I said, and he averted his eyes.
``They pretend Bush is in charge so they can blame the high price of food, gas and health care on mismanagement _ on the apparent fact the president is a nincompoop,'' said Uncle Chet. ``But he's no nincompoop and we're not being mismanaged.''
``Not sure about that.'' I rolled down my window. ``This war looks like a botched job.''
``No, it's worse than that,'' said Uncle Chet. ``The bitter truth is the war is going beautifully for some people, Bush's base, while a relative handful of Americans are killed off and the rest of us are picked clean.''
``Now, that is bitter,'' I said.
``Yes,'' said Uncle Chet. ``And anyone not bitter about the last seven years either doesn't care about this country or isn't paying attention.''