Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

Vice President Cheney visits Wal-Mart's hometown

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Vice President Dick Cheney portrayed Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., as an example of the Bush administration's success in a difficult economy during a visit Monday to the retail giant's hometown.
Meanwhile Wal-Mart leaders and Arkansas' Republican governor boasted that the recession never affected this booming region in northwest Arkansas.

While lashing out at Bush's likely Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, Cheney urged 1,000 cheering Wal-Mart employees to vote in November for "the confident, steady, disciplined leadership of George W. Bush."

Cheney tried to use Wal-Mart's runaway success as the world's largest retailer to show that the economy is not an administration weakness.

"The economy is moving in the right direction and don't let anyone tell you otherwise," he said.

During their tour of Wal-Mart's 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center, Cheney and wife Lynn marveled at the efficiency of state-of-the-art computerized conveyor belts stretching for nearly 20 miles and transporting a mishmash of every boxed product imaginable.

Before their arrival at the distribution center, Gov. Mike Huckabee and Wal-Mart chief executive Lee Scott said in an interview that technological upgrades and a focus on individual salespeople and customers have fortified Wal-Mart against economic downturns.

"I believe Sam Walton used to say they are immune to recession," Huckabee said.

But after his tour, Cheney called on Wal-Mart employees to attribute their economic well-being to Bush's tax cuts.

"You're seeing the results of tax relief here in Bentonville," Cheney said.

Scott said Wal-Mart's respect for its humble beginnings as Walton's five-and-ten-cent store has kept its massive corporate structure in touch with its 1 million international employees and kept them focused on good customer service. When he completed his tour, Cheney spoke in front of a replica of the first storefront in nearby Rogers.

But during his 45-minute tour, Cheney saw very few employees. He remarked on seeing Emily Bohl of Bentonville at two of the five tour stops.

"He said, 'Wait, didn't I just see you?'" said Bohl, who is from the Philippines and has worked for four years separating items that don't need to be in huge cases, like L'Oreal hair-dye.

"Wait a second, here's blond," the fair-haired Mrs. Cheney said as she leaned over to rummage through the packs Bohl and colleague Sharon Dodson of Gentry had sorted from the conveyor system.

Otherwise, the warehouse was almost completely automated.

Rollin Ford, Wal-Mart's vice president of logistics, described a system that scans barcodes and takes photographs of 450,000 cases of merchandise moving through the facility each day.

Huckabee said Wal-Mart employees who were bused in to hear the speech appreciated Cheney's message because Kerry had been criticizing Wal-Mart for underpricing smaller retailers and suppliers.

"It's unprecedented for a candidate to attack — by name — a company that brings hundreds of thousands of jobs to Americans, high-quality products to working-class consumers and an unmatched charitable spirit," Huckabee said. "It's an elitist, snobbish attitude."

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