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 Koreans like dogmeat, the French like Jerry Lewis, and Albanians like George Bush. There is no accounting for national taste.

Bush got the warmest reception of his presidency last week in Albania, an obscure, underdeveloped country in southeastern Europe. (People sometimes confuse Albania with Alabama, or Albany. Reports say that Bush himself believed he was Montgomery-bound and was attempting to learn the “Roll Tide” cheer on the flight.)

Hordes of Albanians surrounded the visiting president, seemingly grateful for the handshakes and kisses he awarded. One playful admirer reached out and mussed the presidential hair. In a speech, the country’s premier called Bush the “greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times.” Albania doesn’t get many visitors.

Bush reveled in the adoration, naturally. When crowds of Americans converge on him, they’re usually looking for a strong tree limb.

The obvious question is: Why not leave him in Albania, and make two countries happy? But if Bush left the presidency, the office would fall to Dick Cheney, perhaps the only person in America who could do the job worse.

So we have to hang on to Bush until Cheney drops from the line of succession. It’s a long shot, but perhaps diplomats could find another poorly informed little country, one that likes Cheney. Cheney to Kazakhstan would be almost far enough.

Cruelty continues

 Had the legislature enacted a reasonable animal-cruelty law in the last session, one that imposed real penalties on offenders, some acts of cruelty likely would have been averted by now, the people who otherwise would have committed them fearful of punishment. But the legislature didn’t, and they weren’t.

Animal abusers still go about their awful business cheerfully in Arkansas, knowing they probably won’t be arrested and nothing much will happen to them if they are. The Farm Bureau and other special-interest groups continue to block substantive animal-cruelty legislation, and Arkansas continues to witness revolting spectacles like those in Franklin County last week. (That’s one county, mind you.): Three starved horses, one missing a foot that had rotted off an injured leg. A mule at a different location that had been dragged behind a pickup truck down an asphalt road.

People who object to this sort of thing — that is, civilized people — must let their legislators know. Show the lawmakers that there’s greater political danger in opposing an animal-protection bill than in supporting it.

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