‘We share the same type of philosophy’

Conan O’Brien joked the other day, “Rick Perry is a religious, right-wing conservative who’s a former pilot and the governor of Texas. Finally! One of those!”

The next day, Jon Stewart told viewers, “Rick Perry is not George W. Bush on steroids; Rick Perry is what happens if Lex Luthor distilled down George W. Bush essence in a laboratory and crossed it with gunpowder and semen from the finest thoroughbred in Lubbock — and then strapped that concoction onto a nuclear missile and shot it into the f**king sun.”

I don’t doubt the similarities between Bush and Perry will be analyzed in minute detail in the coming months; it’s inevitable. And for every piece highlighting the subtle differences between the two, there will be another stressing everything they have in common — public office, religiosity, political ideology, military background, and even physical appearance.

For his part, Perry knows the comparisons are coming, and has a prepared answer.

“I am Rick Perry and he is George Bush,” Perry declared as he marched through the Iowa State Fair, surrounded by reporters. “And our records are quite different.”

Asked what the biggest difference is, Perry responded: “I went to Texas A&M. He went to Yale.”

He did not answer when pressed to name a policy difference.

Well, that’s persuasive, right? If Perry were to win the nomination, the Democratic message will be obvious: American can’t go backwards, and it’d be a tragedy to turn to yet another far-right Texas governor.

To which Perry will say, “Don’t worry; Bush and I went to different colleges”?

Given that most Americans are still inclined to blame Bush for the nation’s economic troubles, the Perry campaign’s line may need to be a little stronger.

But that’s easier said than done. Dan Amira recently noted what Perry said in December 2000, when he was poised to become governor as President-elect Bush headed to Washington. “Certainly, you are not going to see a great philosophical difference between Rick Perry and George Bush,” Perry said. “We share the same type of philosophy.”

It’s a quote voters are likely to see quite a bit in the near future.