The story behind Bushs delays should challenge investigative reporters and historians for years to come. Don Van Natta Jr. and Dexter Filkings of The New York Times have already come up with some fascinating clues to what happened in Miami-Dade, where the recount was off, then on, then reduced in size, and finally, called off, a few days before the Florida Supreme Courts deadline. The villains appeared to include the mob sent from Washington by the aptly named Tom DeLay, and two of the canvassing board members, David Leahy and Myriam Lehr, both of whom need Cuban American voters to retain judgeships and both of whom rely on the same Republican consultant Armando Gutierrez. Then theres Alex Penelas, the mayor of Miami, who the Times says is seriously considering becoming a Republican and running for Congress in a Hispanic-dominated district and who was in “constant contact” with Lawrence King, the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections and the third member of the board.

Less investigating has been done into Palm Beach Countys delays. I would urge reporters to look at Bruce Rogow, the county attorney who kept counseling delays, and at the canvassing board chair Judge Charles Burton, who managed to delay the count until Katherine Harris had an excuse to refuse to honor it, and who also had a suspicious aversion to dimpled ballots, despite having been twice urged by local courts to take a more sympathetic approach to voter intent. The conclusive evidence that Judge Burton is not one of the white hats came when he was called “a great American” by none other than Judge N. Sanders Sauls.

On his own, Sauls succeeded in delaying a recount for seven crucial days. Then he concluded there was no evidence to support Gore, even though an important Bush expert witness had testified that hand recounts made sense in close elections, and not to mention the fact that he refused to look at the main Gore evidence, the disputed ballots, and that he continually cut off David Boies when Boies seemed on the verge of making a telling point. Counting the time it took the Supreme Court of Florida to reverse Sauls, he is actually responsible for holding up the recount for not just seven but 11 days.

But the ultimate villain, the Sheriff of Nottingham who has totally sold out to the usurping Prince John, is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He had been a lifelong champion of states rights until this case, when he ruled for the supremacy of the federal judiciary. A lifelong opponent of judicial excess, he managed to say that the only legal standard, “irreparable harm,” that would have justified staying the Florida recount applied to this case. Stays are granted when an innocent man will be hanged, or a beautiful forest will be cut down. The only harm of recounts would have been that Bush would be shown to be the loser.

That he would have lost and Gore would have won has been confirmed by subsequent analysis of election results by both the Orlando Sentinel and the Miami Herald. But perhaps the most convincing evidence that Gore would have won lies in the ferocious tenacity with which the Bush forces resisted a recount.

To Gores great credit, he sought the fairest solution of all: a hand recount of all counties, Democratic and Republican. Bushs failure to take him up on this proposal is why history will regard him as another Prince John. The only consolation I can offer is that I think its safe to assume that Bush wont do what John did when he became king: Authorize the assassination of the legitimate heir to the throne!