By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Bush announced an "innovative" plan to have the government step aside and let chemical companies police themselves. There was no mention of their miserable record to date.
One company included was the manufacturer of atrazine, America's most common weed killer. Already linked to prostate cancer, in 2002, it was found to cause male frogs to develop female attributes. Amounts 30 times lower than the EPA allowed caused "gross malformations" in frogs, while the U.S. Geological Survey had found concentrations up to 100 times higher than those EPA limits in our drinking water. Atrazine had been banned for years in Europe, while America's only protection now was the manufacturer blowing the whistle on itself.
Rooney told me that atrazine began life as a Nurg whisper. In 2003, University of Missouri reproductive epidemiologist Shanna Swan noticed why: it and other pesticides and herbicides commonly used on U.S. crops caused defective sperm and low sperm counts in men. Men exposed to the chemicals via drinking water were 30 times as likely to have defective sperm. Swan reported that men in rural areas averaged as much as 44 percent less sperm than urban men, while Danish researchers concluded that men in 2004 averaged half the sperm count men did 50 years ago.
It was the Nurg idea to have the human race die off from attrition not long after they were done with us. With global warming acting like a self-cleaning oven, they figured they might eventually return and raise a new nasal crop here.
GMOs proved to be the clincher for us. Despite some cautionary mistakes in the early days of genetic modification—like Star-Link corn, GMO canola and bio-pharm crops that had proved uncontainable—Bush saw no need to apply the brakes.
The drought-resistant corn and sorghum, along with a bio-pharm corn intended to yield an erection aid, spread like crazy in the newly equatorialized climate, jumped species lines and created the universal allergen. The Nurg had to occupy Earth decades ahead of schedule because on other planets the discomfiture of total nasal congestion had led to total global war.
It was a relief on many levels when they took over. Under Bush, more than 2.6 million Americans per year lost their health coverage. The Centers for Disease Control had been drastically underfunded, and people had nowhere to turn between the nasal congestion and the advent of Really Mad Cow disease. The Indian casinos had filled only part of the need when they began offering jackpots of prescription medications instead of money.
The South was a flooded swamp. The entire Northeast needed a sneeze guard. The West was only good for charcoal. In 2009, President Ralph Nader—by then no one else wanted the job—bowed to the inevitable and handed the Nurg a ceremonial key to the planet. They received it in the spirit of zonked bemusement that guided all their doings.
I asked Rooney if he thought it was fair the Nurg had made humanity their snot piñata.
"Your Goethe had it right: 'Life is the disease of matter,'" he said. "After you've thought all the great thoughts and unlocked the universe's secrets, what's really left except smacked-out superfood and Carrot Top until the end of time? At least your people served a purpose.
"What if you didn't have the Nurg to blame for your killing the planet? What if you'd brought all this woe on yourselves and had no one but yourselves to blame for your George W. Bush? Believe me, you're better off."
Rooney figures our What Went Wrong research is pretty much finished, decades ahead of schedule, and I have a new assignment to fill the days until I expire: to see if I can find a headline he enjoys more than "Dweezil Makes a Brisket."