Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Wed Jun 27 12:12:28 MDT 2001

Bush got whacked by Jesse Helms and the other paleo-cons for telling the
world that in gazing into the eyes of Vladimir Putin he'd divined the soul
of a good man whom he could trust and work with. This was certainly over
the top, given Putin's manifest dishonesty and weasel-like demeanor. Bush
probably felt he had to atone for shoving missile defense down Putin's
throat earlier in the trip.

Certainly the description of Putin as a decent fellow raised hollow laughs
among the river guides on the Colorado who, a couple of years ago, took
Putin and a relative down Cataract Canyon, one of the world's most
demanding stretches of white-water. My Counterpunch co-editor Jeffrey St.
Clair talked to the river guides, one of whom told him, "We get a lot of
wacked-out people coming down the river, but Putin really is a dangerous
guy, a real mobster. His packs were loaded with guns, vodka and tens of
thousands of dollars in cash. He seemed to be a little on edge. It was
during a time when it was unclear what was going to happen to the Yeltsin
government. He was a real bully. He was drunk much of the time and bossed
people around as if they were his personal slaves."

Putin and son soon got bored with the red-rock canyons and class-5 rapids.
By the third day the future leader of Russia was demanding that the guides
call in a helicopter to have his party picked up and flown out. Then, so
Jeffrey was told, "he got drunk and started bragging about how many people
he had personally killed. More than 40." The guide said that later, from
the Hite marina, Putin placed a call to Las Vegas. "We want some whores,"
he shouted into his cellphone. "Price is no object."

Alexander Cockburn, NY Press, Jun. 27-Jul. 3 2001

Louis Proyect
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