For openers, I’d like to comment on last week’s column about the seventh anniversary of the Iraq War. One reader suggested effusively that I should get a Pulitzer Prize whereas another essentially suggested that I wasn’t worthy of a booby prize.

A reader named Jerold was so agitated that he wrote a letter to the editor, worried that “weak-minded individuals” might believe my “liberal-progressive lies.” Lies? You mean like WMDs, mobile weapons labs, or Saddam’s attempted purchase of Niger yellowcake, none of which were true? As a final slap he added, “Jack is not funny.” Lies OK, but not funny?

In Jerold’s defense, I did receive a number of e-mails basically asking, “Why do you hate George Bush?” What I hate is what Bush did to America. For example, he inherited the greatest surplus in history and managed to turn it into the greatest deficit. He left us with the worst economy since the Great Depression and, while walking out the door, bailed out Wall Street. I’m sorry Jerold, but those are facts.

With soldiers dying daily or losing limbs, I hated hearing Bush reflect philosophically on his presidency, “Laura and I had the time of our lives.” Or that he was looking forward to private life so that he could “replenish the ol’ coffers.” Or how much he was going to miss meeting with the families of the fallen soldiers because “I always felt so much better afterwards.” One would hope that a president’s concern would be for the grieving families, not himself.

I hated hearing incessant Bush bully rhetoric like “bring it on,” “wanted dead or alive,” “I’m the decider,” “mission accomplished,” “stay the course” and “you’re either with us or against us.” Even Laura was embarrassed.

And it was hard to watch, while New Orleans was under water, the president of the United States was on a stage in sunny Arizona eating birthday cake with John McCain and playing air guitar. (W reminded me of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Newman minus the caption, “What me, worry?”)

After the Aug. 6, 2001 PDB, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” Bush leaped into action. He went on vacation. (He set the record for presidential vacations.) I hated the insidious Stop Loss program which, due to the fine print, forced soldiers to serve multiple tours of duty. (Thankfully Obama ended it.)

I hated Bush’s inimitable combination of arrogance and stupidity, his disregard for the environment, tax cuts for the wealthy, illegal wiretapping, the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Bagram Air Base, and such pesky peccadilloes as water boarding, other torture and the homicides of detainees. That’s not America, folks. Please rent “Taxi to the Dark Side” and you tell me.

Alas, I fear this might further agitate poor Jerold. And besides, this is a holy week. Naturally, I’m referring to the NCAA Final Four, which starts tomorrow, although clearly Passover and Easter are holy, too.

I watched this year’s NCAA tournament with a heavy heart because UCLA wasn’t invited. Even if the field had been expanded from 65 to 96 teams, as some suggest (why fix what isn’t broken?), the Bruins still wouldn’t have been invited. At about 200 they might have been.

For next year, I’m hoping that Bruin coach Ben Howland can pull a rabbit out of his hat. Actually I’m hoping it’s a 6’9”, 275-pound rabbit which, of course, would require a rather large hat.

The opening semi-final game tomorrow features two No. 5 seeds: Indiana’s Butler University with a student population of 4,000 against Michigan State, which has 47,000 students. It’s being played in Lucas Oil Stadium, which is an odious name. They’re expecting 70,000 fans which means 20,000 might actually see the action. I’m rooting for Butler.

In the second semi, West Virginia plays Duke. The last time the Mountaineers were in the Final Four was 1959 with Jerry West! (Interestingly, West’s Santa Monica-born son, Jonnie, is on the current squad.)

Duke is coached by Mike Krzyzewski who has won three national championships, which is impressive. (Also impressive is how he’s kept the same receding hairline for the past 30 years.) He led the U.S. to Olympic gold in 2008, so I should root for Duke, but I’m pulling for the Mountaineers and then hoping Butler wins the whole shebang.

Sunday, of course, is Easter. What I learned just this week is the Last Supper was very likely a Passover meal. (Bread without yeast sounds like matzo to me.) I’d check with Mel Gibson but it’s rumored he can be a little testy. How bunnies and colored eggs got into the Easter tradition, I’m not entirely sure.

Meanwhile, the NCAA Championship is Monday night at 6:15 PDT. Actually, I’m hoping that Jerold’s rooting for Butler. Otherwise he might write another letter to the editor.

Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.

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