REMEMBER SIGNING STATEMENTS?…. There are plenty of reasons to look forward to the end of Bush’s presidency, but I’m especially pleased at the prospect of having a president who won’t sign bills into law, only to announce soon after which parts of the law he plans to ignore.

President Bush asserted on Tuesday that he had the executive power to bypass several parts of two bills: a military authorization act and a measure giving inspectors general greater independence from White House control.

Mr. Bush signed the two measures into law. But he then issued a so-called signing statement in which he instructed the executive branch to view parts of each as unconstitutional constraints on presidential power.

In the authorization bill, Mr. Bush challenged four sections. One forbid the money from being used “to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq”; another required negotiations for an agreement by which Iraq would share some of the costs of the American military operations there. […]

In the other bill, he raised concerns about two sections that strengthen legal protections against political interference with the internal watchdog officials at each executive agency. One section gives the inspectors general a right to counsels who report directly to them. But Mr. Bush wrote in his signing statement that such lawyers would be bound to follow the legal interpretations of the politically appointed counsels at each agency.

If the president didn’t like these provisions, he could have just vetoed the bill. But that’s not the way Bush operates — he likes to put his signature on legislation and then announce the parts of the legislation he has no intention of following.

And while his predecessors have used signing statements for various reasons, Bush is in a league of his own — this president has used signing statements to “assert a right to bypass more than 1,100 sections of laws.” That’s nearly double the combined total of every other president in American history.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) told ThinkProgress: “The White House is holding on until the end to a strategy set early on by Vice President Cheney. With one pen the President signs a bill into law. With another stroke he chooses which parts of the law he will enforce. In undermining these watchdog reforms for inspectors general, the Bush-Cheney White House again is willing to subvert good-government accountability in order to buttress self-serving claims of unfettered authority.”

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.