In Venice, Italy for the premiere of an adulatory documentary, “South of the Border” directed by Oliver Stone, Venezuela’s peripatetic, anti-American president Hugo Chavez said he was ready for better relations with President Obama.

“With Obama we can talk,” enthused Chavez, “we are almost from the same generation, one can’t deny that Obama is different (from Bush). He’s intelligent, he has good intentions and we have to help him.”

Although inclined to quote Castro, Lenin, or Karl Marx, Chavez added, “I’m entirely dedicated to building a real democratic model in Venezuela. As Abraham Lincoln said, what is democracy? It is not the system by which a rich minority exploits the people. It is government by the people and for the people.”

A bravo performance!

In Tehran scant hours before, Chavez sang a different tune, re-validating his anti-imperial credentials. “Tehran-Caracas relations, Chavez declared, are “necessary given [our] common interests, friends, and foes.”

As the U.S. and Iran steam toward a showdown over Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, Chavez was dismissive. “There isn’t a single proof Iran is building a nuclear bomb.”

The cooperative Chavez promised Iran 20000 barrels of gasoline daily, a potential sanctions-busting deal if the West gets tougher on fuel exports over Iran’s nuclear program.

Chavez shared Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei opinion that “America’s repeated defeats and its declining grandeur and power are proof of an undeniable change in the world.”

When thinking about Chavez, it is wise to recall another of Lincoln’s remarks about fooling some of the people all of the time and some of the people all of the time but never all of the people all of the time.

Hugo Chavez has plenty of “all-the-time” sympathizers in the U.S. Be it Oliver Stone in Hollywood, a Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. in Massachusetts, or certain members of Congress. Most Americans, fortunately, are not so easily fooled by Chavez’ shameless and frequent double-speak.

By the way, anyone desiring a more objective look at Chavez can watch free of charge a recent PBS Frontline documentary, “The Hugo Chavez Show,” to get a better feel for Venezuela’s vocal leader, his ideas, style, and abiding hostility for the U.S.