The signs are everywhere — war in the Middle East, drought in Australia and here at home, threatened famine in several regions of the world, more powerful hurricanes and floods, and now the pardoning of evildoers (“Scooter” Libby, of course).

Okay, so he wasn’t granted a pardon (not yet). Yet, while others convicted of similar crimes are serving hard time, Scooter is let off the hook because his commander in chief thinks he’s already suffered enough. Such a cute nickname — how can anyone named Scooter be an evildoer? Well, a skunk by any other name can emit a stink just as foul. His bland, blank face is the face of a servant of evil, not a memorable one, gliding behind the scenes to do the bidding of his masters.

Someone should think about tracing the origin of the payment of Scooter’s $250,000 fine — it just might not have come directly out of his own pocket, but out of some hidden Cheney slush fund, payment for not ratting out the VP and the P, taking the rap for following their orders.

Bush’s sentimental favoritism is in stark contrast to his actions when he was governor of Texas (trying to appear as tough as a Governator) when he speeded dozens of people on their way to execution. In his opinion, they deserved what they got (and gave him a boost in the polls) because no punishment is bad enough for criminals, unless they are a family friend or political gofer.

Bush believes in the Apocalypse, and seems determined to hasten its arrival, advocating war and death without end, and ignoring global warming and science in general until famine and pestilence (among other evils) are practically guaranteed.

Pestilence is getting ready to mount its horse. Bush has already given a leg up to famine, war and death.

He is the Fifth Horseman.

Cheney, the torture-advocate-in-chief, must be the Sixth (or maybe it’s Cheney who is the Fifth Horseman, and Bush is the Shetland Pony Man of the Apocalypse), riding herd on the human race to drive us over the brink to disaster.

Of course, the story of the Four Horsemen is hopelessly out-of-date. These days they ride in black stretch Hummers with bulletproof glass, chauffeurs and Secret Service outriders, or in Air Force jets separating them from the rest of us, the lowly masses. No longer restricted to galloping speed, they zoom around the globe, emitting carbon with every mile, mouthing sanctimonious slogans all the while.

We have to unseat these riders of war and destruction. Prayer won’t do it by itself, and ridicule alone won’t either. We have to get out of our chairs and houses — organizing, voting, demonstrating, petitioning and marching — to end the reign of these walking, talking Death Heads.

Marc Brodine (marcbrodine is chair of the Washington State Communist Party.