AUSTIN, Texas -- Not that any of us is in a position to criticize the Great Scriptwriter in the Sky, but don't you think She's been going a little heavy on the irony lately?

            All those folks who had conniption fits over Bill Clinton's affair are now pooh-poohing Arnold Schwarzenegger's sexual misconduct -- and vice versa. The right-wingers who are always griping about Hollywood stars who express political opinions -- "Shut Up and Sing" -- suddenly find an actor perfectly fit for high political office based on his experience as The Terminator.

            Professional patriots who would have been screaming with horror had the Clinton White House ever leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent now struggle to justify or minimize such a thing.

            President Bush has spent $300 million trying to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and come up with zip, so now he wants to spend $600 million more. And let's mention the president's interesting theory that NOT finding any weapons of mass destruction means the Iraq war was fully justified. (Hello?)

            Connoisseurs of political folly who have been enjoying the antics in California should not overlook the doings in the Great State, where Texas Republicans have achieved such a pluperfect snafu that the state's primary will be delayed next year.

            The Iraqi Governing Council is complaining because the United States is wasting so much money in Iraq.

            Rush Limbaugh is apparently facing drug charges.

            Attorney General John Ashcroft demanded that federal prosecutors seek the maximum penalty in every case just before some perp(s) in the White House apparently broke the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. All in all, a fine fall Irony Fest.

            Less ironic and more in the sickening vein is the naked profiteering by various Bushies on the Iraq War. Bob Dole used to wander around the country demanding, "Where is the outrage?" Where's Dole when we need him?

            Joe Allbaugh, who was one of Bush's "Iron Triangle" when he was governor and later as his presidential campaign manager and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is now in the Baghdad biz. Already the head of one consulting firm, Allbaugh and two partners, both lobbyists and former aides to Poppy Bush, have formed a new firm.

            "The opportunities evolving in Iraq are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in the United States and on the ground." Salivating over unprecedented booty and swag while American soldiers are getting killed every day is considered kind of tacky, in some circles.

            A former partner of Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense and a major player in pushing the war, has joined a nephew of Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress and apparently the source of much misinformation before the war. The nephew has opened a law office in Baghdad, and Feith's erstwhile law partner is marketing the firm in the United States.

            Hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts have already been awarded -- without competitive bidding -- to American businesses, including Halliburton and Bechtel. Hey, no favoritism there. Appearance of impropriety? Don't be a churlish nitpicker.

            Sen. Tom Daschle's office has documented the "gold-plating" of cost estimates in dozens of contracts. These include such gems as $6,000 each for handheld radios and satellite phones, as well as $200 million to protect 100 Iraqi families, at an average cost of $200,000 per family member. The federal witness protection program costs $10,000 per person per year.

            While the main cell-phone contract has yet to be announced, MCI has the preliminary contract. MCI has no experience in building cell networks -- and it also perpetrated the largest accounting fraud in history.

            We're footing the $87 billion-and-counting tab (not including the $79 billion we already spent) for this venture, and the Senate Finance Committee has the chutzpah to consider granting a $100 billion tax break to corporations that make profits overseas. This dandy notion would permit American firms to "repatriate" overseas profits at a reduced tax rate of 5.25 percent, rather than the current 35 percent. Now, does anyone think that doing so might, just might, encourage more corporations to move their operations overseas?

            El stinko to high heaven-o.

            To find out more about Molly Ivins, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at COPYRIGHT 2003 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.