Chávez: "As soon as I take power, I'm a'gonna shake things up around here!"

Quico says: Sunday’s Aló, Presidente brought one of those classic Chávez moments that leave me somewhere between utterly dumbfounded and grimly awe-struck at the sheer, galactic scale of El Comandante’s cojones.

Discussing the coming economic adjustment measures, Chávez railed against Venezuela’s gasoline subsidies on social justice grounds.

“We practically give away gasoline!” he said in a tone of high moral indignation, “the people who use lots of gas in those luxury cars – it’s not fair that the rich pay almost nothing for gas!”

Why he’s telling us this now, why gas subsidies are any less fair today than they were last year, or the year before that, why he’s doggedly hung on to this unjust policy, through thick and thin, for over a decade…these are questions no sane chavista asks.

Episodes like this leave me reeling, confused by feelings that mix deep disgust with something bordering on admiration for the man. Ten years on, he still manages to put himself across as, in effect, leader of the opposition: a redemptive figure riding in to right wrongs he had no part in making. It really is remarkable. When he skewers his own policies, he uses the same tone of noble purpose he normally reserves to slamming his enemies, and does it all in a performance so seamless, so natural that as you’re watching, you can’t help but get swept up in it, losing sight for a second of the absurdity of it all.

How does he do that?!