DALLAS – President George W. Bush dropped in here March 28 for glamour photos by the corporate media and a quick $1.4 million in campaign contributions from his adoring and rich North Texas supporters. Labor leaders and other Texans put together two anti-Bush press conferences back-to-back across the street from the Belo media corporation’s central offices.

AFL-CIO leaders and activists started off with a demand that politicians return gigantic campaign contributions that had been made by the Enron Corporation of Houston. Rebekah Rushing, chairperson of the Enron Ex-employee Relief Fund Account, told reporters and others about their campaign to help the oil company’s employees who were left high and dry when the Enron bubble burst. She said that almost $277,000 had already been raised and disbursed to 222 of the employee victims.

Several political figures had contributed the money that they raised from Enron. Al Gore had refunded $12,600, according to Rushing.

Most of the participants at the press conference were demanding that Texas Republican Senatorial Candidate John Cronyn return almost $200,000 in Enron money. Cronyn was the beneficiary of Bush’s fundraising on the same day. The total amount of Enron’s financial and other contributions to Bush’s career is still being discovered.

The second press conference, sponsored by the Sierra Club and the Blue Skies Alliance, was aimed directly at Bush’s sorry environmental record. They had an inflatable life-sized oil pump for a backdrop, a giant check showing that American taxpayers had given polluting industries over $38 billion and a giant card that read, “Thank you Mr. Bush for: 1) rolling back the Clean Air Act, 2) making bigger payments to dirty industries, 3) cutting money to clean energy, 4) closed door energy meetings, 5) keeping diesel dirty and 6) keeping fuel economy low.”

The sponsors were concerned about Bush’s future actions as well as his past record. They said that he will soon announce a new power proposal to curb Clean Air Act enforcement on dirty coal plants.

Sierra Club spokeswoman Nicole Holt said, “We’re here to make it clear that Dallas families are sick of breathing dirty unhealthy air. The Enron-influenced power proposal will just make our air more dangerous.”

Holt pointed out that health and land don’t need to be sacrificed for power. “Texas is number one in pollution,” Holt said. “We could be number one in the solution – we lead the nation in renewable energy potential.”

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org