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Bush needs to get FAA to rein in airport chaos

With less than six months left in office, George W. Bush has already been branded one of the worst presidents in history by some in the left-wing press. To them, Bush is the worst thing to happen in America since the advent of talk radio.

To be fair - something the liberal media rarely are - President Bush was dealt a tough hand. Less than one year into his first term, Muslim assassins in civilian clothing started a worldwide war. To his credit, Bush has fought that war tough, if not always smart.

The campaign against terror has occupied most of the president's time. Therefore, things like illegal immigration, energy prices and the nation's airline system, which became enormous problems on Bush's watch, were not dealt with aggressively. Thus, the president will leave office in a few months saddled with very low approval ratings.

For anyone who travels in America, the flying experience has become almost painful. Airlines have cut back on basic services, and the comfort level while flying is now a joke. Customers are jammed into seats, forced to endure unexplained delays and often treated with apathy, if not outright disrespect.

Any other industry would have folded years ago, but many Americans have to fly, whether for business or family concerns. The airline and oil industries have similar profiles: The folks need their services; we can't walk away.

The Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for keeping the airline industry safe and efficient. It is safe, that's a fact. But efficiently run? Sure. So is Zimbabwe.

FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell's greatest achievement is that no one has ever heard of him. Sturgell is a former pilot and, apparently, unaware that many American pilots still on the job are slowly being driven crazy because of the chaos in the skies.

This is not a complicated situation. There are simply too many planes in the air for air traffic controllers to safely handle because takeoff and landing times are not regulated. Thus, the airports in New York, Atlanta and Chicago are beyond saturated. If a cloud rolls in or a rabbit runs across the runway, planes begin stacking up back to Katmandu.

If someone would awaken Sturgell, something could be done. The federal government has the power to control takeoffs and landings. It is dangerous and a colossal waste of oil for planes to be circling all over the place and sitting on active runways for hours. Apparently, everyone understands this but Bobby.

And his boss, George.

It's not that the president is a bad man or even incompetent. I do not believe that. But he has no sense of urgency in many matters. Problems like the airline chaos mount and are rarely solved. Hey, Mr. President, people are suffering at the airports. This should not be happening in America.

Somebody on Air Force One should tell the guy.

Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His "Radio Factor" can be heard from 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays on NewsTalk 1300 WIMO-AM.