The administration of US President Bill Clinton is unfurling the liberal colors for its home stretch.
As he approaches his last year in office, the impeached president wants to make his mark on history and to help Vice President Al Gore get elected as his successor.
It seems so long ago that Clinton first campaigned for the White House as something called a "new Democrat." That was largely taken to mean less liberal than traditional Democrats.
Then came the attempted nationalization of medicine, a tax increase, environmental initiatives so far-reaching they can't get past the courts, and the revitalization of tax-and-spend politics implicit in this year's budget proceedings.
Clinton wants to govern. He has always wanted only to govern. He wants to tell individuals how to live. He wants to spend their money. To him, impeachment without conviction represents a mandate to rule.
And now he's playing the mandate for history and for Gore, who doesn't bother to camouflage his liberalism.
This month, the White House launched a liberal barrage.
Item: Clinton signed an executive order requiring environmental reviews of pending trade agreements. Unless Congress or the courts halt the lurch, extremist groups like Greenpeace will have a powerful lever for blocking trade and economic growth.
Item: Attorney General Janet Reno and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner announced enforcement actions against eight coal-burning electricity utilities in what the affected companies say amounts to a retrospective change of Clean Air Act rules. According to press reports, EPA is investigating several refineries and petrochemical plants for possible action under the same interpretation of the regulations.
Item: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced regulations that will force 1.6 million companies to take costly ergonomic measures aimed at protecting workers against repetitive-stress and similar injuries.
This all smacks of the unbridled regulation that helped turn the well-intentioned single term of President Jimmy Carter into a colossal failure.
The US learned then that the government cannot solve every human problem and shouldn't try to do so. Individual lives and commerce have dimensions in which government involvement is not just inappropriate but destructive.
Clinton nodded at those lessons when he campaigned as a new Democrat. But he has acted since becoming president as though he just wants to affect lives and can't help but govern and govern aggressively.
The aggressive regulation of the past few weeks spotlights "new Democrat" among the long list of deceptions that has been the sad hallmark of this presidency.
Congress and the oil and gas industry should prepare for a flurry of liberal lunges that Clinton and his cronies seem intent on making in their final year in office. Economic expansions have been destroyed by less governance than this.