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Come On, Guys…It’s Just His Puppeteer Hump

Speaking of research leading to unexpected discoveries, it seems a NASA scientist has been studying the “bulge” in the back of President Bush’s suit coat:

Finally, on October 8, this reporter ran an investigative report about the bulge in the online magazine Salon, following up with a second report (10/13/04)?an interview with an executive of a firm that makes wireless cueing devices that link to hidden earpieces?that suggested that Bush was likely to have been improperly receiving secret help during the debates.

At that point, Dr. Robert M. Nelson, a 30-year Jet Propulsion Laboratory veteran who works on photo imaging for NASA?s various space probes and currently is part of a photo enhancement team for the Cassini Saturn space probe, entered the picture. Nelson recounts that after seeing the Salon story on the bulge, professional curiosity prompted him to apply his skills at photo enhancement to a digital image he took from a videotape of the first debate. He says that when he saw the results of his efforts, which clearly revealed a significant T-shaped object in the middle of Bush?s back and a wire running up and over his shoulder, he realized it was an important story…

The Times was at first very interested, Nelson reports. There was, after all, clearly good reason to investigate the issue. The White House and Bush/ Cheney campaign had initially mocked the bulge story when it had run in Salon, first attributing it to “doctored” photos circulating on the Internet (New York Times, 10/9/04), and later claiming that the bulge, so noticeable in video images, was the result of a “badly tailored suit” (New York Times, 10/18/04). Bush himself contradicted this White House and campaign line when he told ABC?s Charles Gibson (Good Morning America, 10/26/04) that the bulge was the result of his wearing a “poorly tailored shirt” to the debate.

Now Nelson?s photos?the result of his applying the same enhancement techniques to the debate pictures that he uses to clarify photo images from space probes?rendered all these official if mutually contradictory explanations obviously false.

Why, it’s truly amazing what NASA’s image enhancement techniques can do! Good thing Dr. Nelson didn’t have anything more pressing to do back in October.

The story is a long and tedious recounting of how Nelson’s expose was spiked due to pressure from the Bushitler Junta’s propaganda tentacles (e.g.: the editors of the LA Times and NYT), but it ends with a chuckle-inducing flourish that should be captured here as an example:

But personally, I think that Nelson?s assertions did rise above the level of garden-variety speculation, mainly because of who he is. Here was a veteran government scientist, whose decades-long career revolves around interpreting imagery like features of Mars, who decided to say very publicly that, without reservation, he was convinced there was something under a president?s jacket when the White House said there was nothing…

“I?d certainly choose [Nelson?s] opinion over that of a tailor,” Revkin concluded, referring to news reports that cited the man who makes the president?s suits. “Hard to believe that so many in the media chose the tailor, even in coverage after the election.”

Ooh, let me take a crack at explaining that one. Maybe…it’s because…any random tailor can be reliably expected to know more about the fit of a suit than can an astronomer poring over a TV stillframe…? Could it be?

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