Note the continued use of the word "leftist", with its usual connotations; indeed, Chàvez is referred to as "the leftist leader" (as opposed to, say, the elected president of Venezuela) twice in just a few sentences. This is deliberate and effective, despite its subtlety and obvious laziness.
Well, of course he has. They put him there for the explicit purpose of sticking it to The Man. And let's face it -- there's a tangible level of symbiosis here. For a guy like Chàvez, a self-styled populist, there's simply no downside to tweaking the nose of an unpopular American leader who once tried unsuccessfully to depose him. And for Bush, whose raisin det-ree (as they say in Texan) is chasing boogeymen hither and yon, they just don't come much boogier than the Castro-worshipping enabler of the unwashed masses, a guy who refuses to play corporate ball. Hence Ahmadinejad is the current incarnation of Hitler; hence Chàvez is a loose cannon residing comfortably at the top of John Bolton's shit list, along with human decency and Grecian Formula for mustaches.
The bottom line is that Good, for whomever pronounces themselves as such, needs to identify Evil in order to define itself and persist in its aims.
What makes this even more complicated is that now so-called democracy Egypt wants in on the nuke game as well. For energy purposes, of course. Future president-for-life Gamal Mubarak spake thusly:
Uh-oh, that wasn't in the script. And as if that weren't enough (and by God, don't you think it oughta be?), the Mubaraks have also been taking steps to roll back the Freedomocracy™ which Dear Leader proclaimed is the birthright of all men.
Of course, the current American regime may want to take pointers from the Egyptian thugocracy before taking pains to downplay its relationship with them. But basically we're shelling out $2bn/year for the Mubaraks to pass along the most populous country in the region as a family heirloom, and announce that they want to join the nuke club as well. The nuclear wannabes have seen quite clearly that NPT non-signatories such as Israel and India get treated very well in negotiations, while signatories who are making at least token efforts (such as Iran) to comply get pushed around and threatened with war. If we wanted to further demotivate compliance, it'd be hard to come up with a more effective way.
Which brings us back to that wild and crazy guy, Hugo Chàvez. Considering that Brazil and Argentina already have their own nascent nuke programs underway, it's only a matter of time before Chàvez follows suit and either buys his way into the Mercosur Nuke Club, or uses his comical rhetoric to convince them to band together to stick it to Whitey one more time. This is just the start, and considering Chàvez' power to destabilize oil markets to at least some extent if need be, we may simply have neither the diplomatic skills nor the cojones to stare him down.