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Compassionate Conservative
Garlic's "What Do You Think?" interviews.

Bush Isn't Dyslexic, He's Possessed

"Remember this over the Fourth of July? He was wearing a hat with "43," and his dad was wearing "41" because that's the number of Presidents they are. So they always say they don't want to draw attention to their dynasty, but then they wear hats that do that, so it pissed me off. So I made up some other hats that the Bushes could wear, and you can comment on this. Here's a good one for them."49," that's the percentage of the popular vote he got. He could wear that one. Here's "1." The number of terms he and his dad are going to have. It's also the number on his speed dial for Exxon. Oh, here's one of my favorites. Look at this one. "50/50." That's Dick Cheney's chances to make it to Christmas. "17," that's the number of times that he skipped a Cabinet meeting to go see "Happy Gilmore." "12," this is the number of Starbucks frappuccinos you can get with your tax rebate. "69" --no, that's Clinton's. What does this one say? "47." Oh, right.That's his approval rating among white people, and it's great. You turn it around like the black people wear it. It's his approval rating among blacks "5". And finally, "1.8" --That was his grade point average in college. Also, coincidentally, his kid's blood alcohol level." --Politicall Incorrect


With the rise of digitized candidates in political face-offs like "The Bush-Gore Presidential Race 2000," it was only a matter of time before Washington party chiefs, senior aides, and lobbyists would be supplanted by a computer-generated horde of swaggering, cutthroat, Brooks Brothers-clad pixels. According to the latest Washington power list, the six most influential people in national politics today are not, technically speaking, people:

1. Gilmore Buckpasser, virtual political party boss: This widely feared honcho, created by two geeks with an iMac in a Maryland garage, earned the top spot on the list by working 24-hour days without stopping for lunch, Perrier or oxygen. In a business where being able to tell a whopping lie is the coin of the realm, Buckpasser is the undisputed king of mendacity, and with good reason: his creators endowed him with two faces.

2. Trent Sleazotron, virtual lobbyist: Sleazotron has become ubiquitous in Washington, appearing at as many as 14 Congressional committee hearings, parties and political campaign launches in a single day. How does he do it? Sleazotron sends himself as an e-mail attachment to all the D.C. power gatherings, stealing politicans away from flesh-and-blood lobbyists whose SUV's can't equal his high-speed DSL pace.

3. Gerson Copypaste, virtual speechwriter: The most sought-after scribe in the politics business today, Copypaste composes speeches consisting only of material lifted from previous hit speeches. And, in those rare instances when he fails to deliver the goods, his political bosses don't even have to fire him; they simply move him to the trash can.

4. Ari Blurby, virtual press secretary: While other press secretaries have to fumble with cell phones to talk up their candidates, Blurby has one implanted inside his highlighted head. The fact that Blurby does not actually exist hasn't been held against him, since so many of the citizens the candidates present at press conferences nowadays don't exist, either.

5. Rover-4.0, virtual Senior Advisor: Rover-4.0 has enjoyed a meteoric rise as a Senior Advisor by dropping and dragging his image into victory parties for candidates he had nothing to do with. But Rover-4.0's best feature, insiders say, is his ability to delete himself from campaigns that are in deep trouble. Case in point: His various campaigns for Senate Republicans up for election in 2002 are presently in trouble, but according to a spokesman, he is vacationing for the next two weeks on the hard drive of an I.B.M. ThinkPad.

6. George W. Bush, virtual politician: Previously a critic of computer-generated politicians, Mr. Bush came to realize that the arduous process of being a conservative while pretending to be a moderate during the campaign would have been unnecessary had he been digitized and split into two. If other politicians follow Mr. Bush's lead and make the leap from human to digital, will there be any real politicians left inside the Beltway? Insiders agree it will be hard to tell.

--Politex has cloned Andy Borowitz, thereby creating a virtual story that has been previously digitized for your reading pleasure. 7/13/01

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 2nd (DF)- Doctors at George Washington University in the nation's capital have confirmed that they have installed more than just a pacemaker into the Vice President's chest. Over the weekend, our sources learned that the Vice President was given a new metalic arm that is ten times stronger than his old arm. This is reportedly to be used to better strongarm Congressman and Senators to vote for the Presidents agenda, and to keep any potential defectors at bay. He also was given a pair of laser beam eyes that can penetrate deep into a political opponent or wayward congressman's eyes, making resistance to Cheney or the President's agenda futile.

"Once we had him in the OR, it made sense to add these additional features to the Vice President." said Dr. Kuchrarmacha of George Washington University Hospital. "But despite these features, and perhaps a few features that may have been installed without our knowledge, the Vice President can function as any normal human being would." No one is quite sure why the Vice President was enhanced, although sources suggest that it is the idea of White House political genius Karl Rove, who was concerned that the aging Cheney had missed the defection of Senator Jeffords, and ordered a top to bottom review of what could be done to avoid another embarrasment for the President's agenda.

There are rumors that additonal features were added to Cheney, such as a videocam that could follow President Bush wherever he might wander, and a radar device that can detect new sources of oil and coal. But sources were unable to confirm this at press time. There were also some reports that the devices may be functioning too well, which is concerning GW doctors. Some sources claim they saw Vice President Cheney scale and jump over the iron bar fence that surrounds the White House, instead of going through normal security procedures. And GW doctors were concerned that Cheney may have been unaturally aggressive in some White House meetings, and may have even tried to use his new cyberpower to choke an intern who jammed the photocopier.--Dang Funny, 7/3/01

Bush Trained For European Trip At EPCOT Center

"BRUSSELS - Bush trained for his big European tour with a quick visit to Walt Disney's EPCOT Center in Orlando, aides reveal. The President, who has not traveled much and has not always been comfortable around world leaders, was brought through the various nations represented at the Disney Theme Park in order to get some practice encountering European people. The idea of bringing the President to EPCOT was part of a strategy formulated by White House political genius Karl Rove. Rove felt the President needed to get aquainted with the various customs in the nations that he would encounter, in a "fun and friendly family atmosphere," prior to meeting the world leaders, who were expected to be unreceptive. "Instead of wasting his time with those nasty European leaders who want to argue with the President's agenda, the President was free to practice dishing out his folksy charm with the costumed Disney employees." said one source in the White House. The President was taken through various "countries:" France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland. According to reports, the President learned many things. He had been unware that the French eat "stale bread," that the Swiss "sang funny songs and eat a lot of cheese." or that Spain had some "kick-ass gypsy music." Previous to his trip to EPCOT Germany, the President had had no contact with weinerschnitzel.

"But although Bush enjoyed the trip, the plan may have backfired. According to sources, the president was relieved when the EPCOT trip was over, thinking he had accomplished his foreign policy duties. He was dissapointed when he was informed that he would have to actually fly to Europe. "Rove, why can't I just come to this place [EPCOT]" the President reportedly said. "The people here are friendly, and they don't give me any guff about my missle defense shield! Why can't them French just meet me at the FranceTown in Orlando? They got an Eifel Tower here." Rove quickly organized a summit meeting between the President and Goofy, which 'helped to calm him down.'" --Dang Funny, 6/15/01

Cabinet to Bush: You Are The Weakest Link

'Goodbye,' Says Cheney

President Bush's cabinet ejected him from the White House yesterday after determining that he was "the weakest link" in the current Administration. The President was told of his weakest-link status after failing to answer a number of television trivia questions correctly in a cabinet meeting late yesterday afternoon. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and EPA head Christine Todd Whitman all voted him the "weakest link," forcing him out of office immediately. Vice-President Cheney was charged with the duty of informing the president that he was, in fact, the weakest link. "You are the weakest link, goodbye," Mr. Cheney reportedly told Mr. Bush. President Bush sealed his fate, observers said, by failing to identify correctly the actress who played "Tootie" on the long-running television series "The Facts of Life." Mr. Bush was expected to have cleared out of the White House by the end of this week at the latest. According to White House sources, the impact of the president's departure on the running of the government was expected to be "minimal." --Andy Borowitz, 5/8/01


by Patricia Jefferson

SLADE--Friday, March 16. Due to a tax-cut related outbreak of Bush's-mouth disease, New York City's St. Patrick's Day parade has been cancelled and on Saturday Irish bars all over the city will have their business limited to the daylight hours to guard against possible infestation. The Irish community has mixed feelings about the City's one-day decision. As Paddy McCormick, parade celebration chairman, said, "While it's a shame to curtail our celebration like that, it's understood that the typical Irish brogue and bluster wouldn't stand a chance against the foul and pernicious sickness of the Bush's-mouth disease Better to protect our simple jokes, stories, and songs for another year." Not only has the Bush's-mouth disease forced the cancellation of St. Patrick's Day celebrations in New York City, it has also demolished the façade of polite relations between Resident Bush and his English-speaking New York City neighbors. The New York Times condemned a Gotham minister's characterization of Bush as "the language-leper of the Eastern Seaboard" as "crude and unhelpful" but admitted it "reflected the anger felt by some New Yorkers." In Washington, D.C., language used to communicate actual thought accounts for just 1 percent of communication, compared with 10 percent in New York City, but according to the New York Times, that "does not … excuse the ineffective approach that has been adopted towards the Bush's-mouth disease protection." Although there are some restrictions on Bush language access by the media, the paper felt the government has not gone far enough, and it suggested Dick Cheney's wish to call for completion of the Bush tax cut initiatives for early May was to blame for the avalanche of Bush-like prose by other members of the administration. An op-ed in the Times counseled Cheney to ignore demands to postpone the expected tax cut votes, hoping that the disease might lessen after the present session of Congress:

"This tax cut battle has been long enough in the coming, no one knows who is going to win, the poor are not particularly interested in it, and voters want it out of the way fast. … Never mind the political animals—the nation is screaming to be put out of its misery."

As of Thursday morning, 230 cases of Bush's-mouth disease had been confirmed in Washington, (including some in Northern Virginia), and there was at least one verified outbreak in New York City on Wall Street. Although there is a vaccine, the U. S. Supreme Court has prohibited its use since its presidential election of Bush, 5-4, partly so that states can export conservative thought to Washington that is both vaccine- and disease-free. (See this "Explainer" for an FAQ on Bush's-mouth disease.) Libération of Des Moines asked if the remedies—the muzzling of hundreds of thousands of Bush-like speakers, many of which are not infected—might be worse than the problem itself. It concluded that it is very possible that the current situation "could end in a dispute where some states accuse others of having imposed unjustifiable measures because of 'exaggerated reactions.' Measures that one can require of oneself if they are motivated by a legitimate mental health concerns rather than by protectionism." Texas's El País expressed similar concern at the New York City attempts at banning all Bush-month expressions, even though only the two major political parties seem to have been afflicted thus far:

"Right now there is a general trend toward self-protection that runs the risk of degenerating into arbitrary protectionism. … Steps like those taken by New York City reflect a widespread "every man for himself" attitude that is disproportionate and of limited effectiveness."

Earlier this week during a media roundtable, Resident Bush, providing a specimen of Bush's-mouth disease, stepped into the ongoing dialogue, agreeing that arbitrary protectionism has negative consequences:

"The true threats to stability and peace are these states that are not very transparent, that hide behind the--that don't let people in to take a look and see what they're up to. They're very kind of authoritarian regimes. The true threat is whether or not one of these people decide, peak of anger, try to hold us hostage, ourselves; the New Yorkans, for example, to whom we'll defend, offer our defenses; the South Dakotites."

California's El Mundo contrasted the state's traditional nonchalance about the threat to its natives from nearby Hollywood, where the disease is endemic, with the "collective paranoia" in New York City: "It's clear that since we started seriously listening to Resident Bush, we also gradually adopted the common fantasies and changed our old priorities."

Charlton Heston, President
National Rifle Association
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

March 8, 2001
RE: My Second Amendment Rights

Dear Mr. Heston:

I am writing to demand that you resign your post as President of the National Rifle Association. Like most actors, you talk a good game, but like many politicians, you refuse to follow through. You are not doing your job. You have asserted that I have a right to self-defense, that I have this right whoever the aggressor against me is, and that I have the right to use "any means necessary." How lovely of you. I am pleased to hear you admit it.

If that is the way you feel, then why, Mr. Heston, aren't you working to secure my Second Amendment rights? As you well know, Amendment II says nothing about "guns" or "rifles", but rather, about "arms". Guns are ridiculously obsolete in our modern world. With religious fundamentalists seizing power in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States -- Afghanistan is rumored to have access to nuclear bomb components, and the United States and Pakistan certainly do -- how am I to protect myself and my family with a pitiful little Barrett .50 caliber M82A1? It may fire armor-piercing and incendiary ammunition, Sir, but it is no deterrent against an adversary with nukes, and certainly offers me no real protection. I am also outraged that you are not working, right now, to see that the overly-restrictive treaties America has signed with other nations which prevent me from legally possessing chemical and biological weapons are overturned. This is a personal sovereignty issue. I never waived my right to keep any of these Arms.

And please, do not insult my intelligence with talk that my government has these weapons, and can deter or retaliate against aggressors on my behalf. What claptrap! That is no different than saying my First Amendment freedoms are protected when my government speaks for me. As you have so wisely pointed out, Mr. Heston, my right to armed self-protection is supreme, and of more urgent importance than my right to freedom of speech or of religion. If I won't trust the government to do my talking or worshipping for me, what makes you think I would trust them to stand guard for me? I wouldn't! It has often been said, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." Well, I want this thing done right!

So, I issue an ultimatum to you today. Either put up, or shut up. Either get busy securing my right to bear Arms, ALL ARMS, or step down from your post, and allow that hallowed seat to be filled by someone who won't cave to the liberals. Either do your duty, or resign and let a leader who loves Amendment II as much as I do assume the Office of President of the NRA.

The Diva, 3/9/01
CC: http://www.nrahq.org/contact.asp


By Ron Charles, CSM 3/3/01

"Yesterday saw another surprising development in the growing scandal surrounding ex-President Clinton. Accusations have surfaced that Mr. Clinton may have been responsible for the asteroid that struck Earth 65 million years ago, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs. Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana, chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, stopped short of explicitly charging that anybody had broken the laws of nature, but added, "If we find that there was any quid pro quo - money for survival - then of course we'll pursue that." The most recent rumors of impropriety surfaced in the Journal of Geological Science, which reported that sediment composition in Little Rock, Ark., indicates that an object at least 10 miles in diameter struck Earth during the Cretaceous period. Congressman Burton called the coincidence "alarming" and said his committee would investigate immediately. "We need to move quickly on this tragedy," he told reporters. "Many of the potential witnesses are already dead or missing." His committee is preparing to issue subpoenas to curators at the Museum of Natural History in New York. "The appearance of impropriety is there," Burton said. "One minute dinosaurs rule the Earth, the next minute they're gone. We need to find out what actually transpired so that the Congress and the American people can rest assured there was no illegal activity."

"In a statement published last week in The New York Times, Clinton defended his fossil record and noted his long devotion to several well-known reptiles. While he admitted that he had heard about the extinction of the dinosaurs - "I still feel their pain" - he insisted that no one in his administration was "in any way involved." When confronted by reporters during a pleasure stroll through Harlem, Clinton said, "It all depends on what your definition of extinction is." Hillary Rodham Clinton (D), recently elected to the Senate from New York, tried to distance herself from the asteroid controversy. At a raucous press conference on Capitol Hill, she told reporters and geophysicists that she was "heartbroken" and "saddened" by the extinction of the dinosaurs. But she added, "I did not play any role whatsoever. I had no opinion about it at the time." Mrs. Clinton confirmed reports that she had visited the Bronx Zoo in October of 2000 and seen the alligators and tortoises. "But the subject of the loss of their ancient ancestors never came up," she said.

"Hoping to reclaim the national spotlight, President George W. Bush said at his first official press conference that he "hoped the country would move on from the tragedies of the last 65 million years." "I'm a uniter, not a pa-le-on-tol-o-gist," the president said.

Bush Goes to White House Again

By Patricia Jefferson

Sunday, March 5, 9:12 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Rooters) - If it's Monday, it must mean President Bush is at the White House again. But out of of seven weekends as president, Bush has spent four of them at the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, one at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and only two at the White House. But shortly after 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Bush and his wife Laura swung into their White House mode, waving to the cameras and boarding the green-and-white Marine One helicopter that will carry them to the White House. There, they were joining Acting-President Cheney for a photo op and nap ahead of a Bush trip to Norfolk, Va., Tuesday to christen the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan. The bottom line is that Bush, who fought so hard to get to the White House, enjoys spending a lot of time away from it. Even with the lowest favorable rating in several generations, Bush, thanks to a cooperative media, has not faced questions that surfaced during the presidential campaign about his work habits and the amount of time he spent at home in Texas,. "I'm not saying I don't like my new address. I do. But it's good to get out into the countryside too," Bush told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska this week. Bush's weekends away are in stark contrast to his predecessor Bill Clinton's tendency to stay in Washington beyond Friday. In his early years, Clinton rarely went to the isolated compound, preferring to stay in the city where he could party with friends easily. As Bush noted during the campaign, he has no friends in Washington, even though he lived there off and on for a number of years during the Reagan-Bush years.

Bush seems content to escape to the mountaintop as often as possible, just as his father did as president. Both men have realized long ago that their language and attention disorders demand that they work as little as possible. Washington, a hotbed of stress and tension, has not been good for them. "Camp David or Crawford, Texas are good places to relax as far away from Washington as possible, and it's also a good chance for Acting-President Cheney to catch up on his work, not having to worry about the gaffes, flubs, and errors that I normally make due to stress," Bush said Friday. "I'm a little bit behind on my baseball computer games right now. But I intend, every chance I get to go -- if I'm not going to Crawford, and I don't have to give a speech here on the weekend, I'm going to go to Camp David." He already has a plan in the works to spend next weekend at his beloved "Prairie Chapel" ranch in Texas, sandwiching it in between a trip to Louisiana Friday and to Florida on Monday. Both Camp David and Crawford, Texas, offer total isolation for the president and his family. Camp David is a 134-acre compound named for Dwight Eisenhower's grandson David and used as a presidential retreat since 1942, when it was called Shangri-La by President Franklin Roosevelt. It is considered a classified facility and is protected by Marine guards who are hyper-sensitive about security. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush is able to run outdoors at Camp David, instead of on his treadmill in the White House or in hotel rooms, and can watch movies. As Bush learned during his years as Texas governor, this is absolutely necessary in order to avod the breakdown of language and attentivness that comes with stress and the lack of uniform nap times during his 9-5 days. "I think you'll see on a regular basis, a combination of going to Camp David and going to Crawford as much as possible, unless photo ops and other presidential ceremonies demand his presence in Washington," Fleischer said.

White House Aide Defends Bush Decision to Delete Grammar Tests In Nation's Schools

By Patricia Jefferson

Saturday February 24 4:12 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Rooters) - A senior White House aide sprang to the defense of President George W. Bush 's decision to delete the study of grammar in the nation's schools on Saturday, accusing the media of being ``hyper-critical'' about parsing and picking apart his words and insisting on the teaching of grammar in primary and secondary schools across the land.. Bush's occasional creative use of the English language was well documented during the election campaign and his move to the White House has intensified the scrutiny, leading to some widely publicized syntactical slips this week. ``They (Americans) don't care what you think about grammar, they care about what he's going to do that affects their lives,'' Mary Matalin, counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney and assistant to Bush, said in a CNN television interview, "so it's only common sense to apply that thinking to Amerian education in general." Hence, while Bush, the Education President, plans to hold the nation's children to the education grindstone through his nationally mandated testing program, he has decided that it would be hypocritical to insist that they be tested on grammar, not knowing it himself.

After watching videotaped excerpts from Bush's Thursday news conference, his first formal White House session with the media since taking office on Jan. 20, Matalin bristled at an interviewer's suggestion that the public might expect more from their president than ``a third-grade grammatical error.'' Discussing the invitation he and first lady Laura Bush extended to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Bush told reporters: ``Laura and I are looking forward to having a private dinner with he and Mrs. Blair Friday night.'' Earlier, Bush seemed unable to choose between singular and plural as a different set of pesky pronouns tripped him up. Asked what advice he would give politically active members of his family, Bush replied: ``My guidance to them is, behave yourself. And they will.'' "Hyper-critical doesn't begin to describe the (media) ... to parse it and pick it apart in the way that it has is discordant with the American people,'' Matalin said on the program "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields." "America has had it with grammar," Matalin continued," so Mr. Bush has decided that fair is fair. Since the American people don't care about Mr. Bush's lack of grammatical abilities, Mr. Bush does not want to be a hypocrite by insisting that America's children learn grammar as part of the nation's curriculum in its primary and secondary schools."

Coming just a month into Bush's presidency, the news conference was "designed to show and telegraph we'll be giving many,'' Matalin said, enabling Americans to `"understand what it is we're doing, not so the grammarians in the press can have a field day.'' When the ridicule that former Vice President Dan Quayle endured for famously putting an ``e'' on the end of ``potato'' was raised, Matalin cut in with: ``Are we going to talk about Mr. Bush's plans for American education?'' Although an official White House transcript of the 30-minute question-and-answer session rendered almost every word verbatim, it did not contain Bush's inadvertent reference to cocoa -- instead of coca -- production in Colombia, a slip that gave rise to a host of jokes. ``I think the media handled it with good humor,'' White House spokesman Ari Fleischer quipped to reporters. His pun was too subtle for most. Good Humor is the name of a popular chocolate ice cream bar. The media's ``Bushism'' watch went on high alert earlier this week when the president delivered the line, ``You teach a child to read and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test'' at an education event in Townsend, Tennessee. The slip was reproduced in newspapers and magazines around the country. NBC's late-night television host Jay Leno awarded it ''The George W. Bush Quote of the Day.''

At that point, according to Matalin, Mr. Bush called together President Cheney, Sec. of Education Paige, and various advisors to consider the educational need for grammar. The outcome of that meeting led to Mr. Bush's decision to delete grammar from the nation's education curriculum. As Mr. Bush said, "Nearly a third of our college freshmen find he must take a remedial course before they are able to even begin regular college level courses. Although education is primarily a state and local responsibility, the federal government is partly at fault for tolerating this abysmal results. The federal government currently does not do enough to reward success and sanctioning failure in our education system.An enterprise works best when responsibility is placed closest to the most important activity of these enterprise, when those responsible is given greatest latitude and support, and when these responsible is held accountable for producing results. Accordingly, in all honesty I can't not ask pre-college students to know what I can't learnt myself, particularly when the American people and my aides tell me that it doesn't matter. So that are the reasons I have decided to delete the study of grammar from all of the nation's primary and secondary schools. Not only will this decision allow me to continue to be a role model to the nation's children, it will bring further dingity to the White House. So help me God." (Read the original story here.)

Yo, Sparky. Yeah, You Know Who You Are.

"He's our nicknamer in chief." — Newsweek

INSIDERS are admitting that President George W. Bush's penchant for bestowing his own nicknames on close associates has provoked the first crisis of his new administration. "Internal communications are in turmoil," confesses a high-ranking Bush aide known as Frenchy, though he doesn't know why. "The president says get me Knuckles on the line, or where's The Eskimo, or let Bones and uptown handle this," he laments, "and nobody has a clue as to who he's talking about."

Vice President Dick Cheney, a seasoned Bush handler, refuses to confirm or deny reports that he plans an internal White House telephone hot line where senior advisors, cabinet members and others can call in to find out their current presidential nicknames and those of their colleagues. But knowing who's actually who among themselves has become a high-stakes guessing game for the Bush team members — as was underscored by a recent trip to Kansas City by a bewildered secretary of state, Gen. Colin L. Powell. The president had ordered that Bullets be sent to represent the administration at a town meeting on farm subsidies. Assuming Bullets to be Mr. Bush's informal name for the only ex-military figure among his top aides, a member of the White House staff conveyed the word to General Powell. He was halfway to Kansas City aboard Air Force One before the goof was revealed: Bullets is the president's nickname for the secretary of agriculture, Ann M. Veneman. Mr. Bush's response to the snafu was quoted as, "Why for heck's sake would I send Balloonfoot to do Bullet's job?"

The first lady herself is reported to be "baffled" by her husband's nickname for her. "I hung up five times yesterday when he called to ask what was for dinner," said a flustered Laura Bush. "I thought it was a wrong number when the guy kept asking for Stretch." Meanwhile, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is reportedly both baffled and incensed that on his first call to the new American president, Mr. Bush addressed him not as Mr. President or Mr. Putin but Ostrich Legs. Mr. Cheney, who is said to believe his own Bush nickname to be either Hopalong or Crash-Dive (signed presidential memos evidently differ), has reportedly come to dread full cabinet meetings. "When George W. starts with the `Good morning, Skeezix' and `Let's ask The Undertaker," says one cabinet member, who thinks he himself may be Spinach Man, "they all look over at Dick for help, and he's as lost as they are. And if Dick doesn't know who the president's talking to, who does?"

A White House nickname hot line, should Mr. Cheney set one up, would be helpful but no panacea. High- ranking administration officials are still likely to refuse the call when their secretaries announce it's The Pecos Kid for Snooky. Foreign leaders beyond nickname-hot- line range will surely bridle at being called Nine Pin or Hound Dog by a fellow head of state. And what of Mr. Bush's intimate circle? One old friend returned as Not Known At This Address a 50- pound shipment of Texas barbecue beef bearing the presidential seal, addressed to "The Big Goober." His name is Darryl.

Compounding the confusion is Mr. Bush's creativity with sobriquets, verging on free association. "His nickname style isn't anything you can decode," points out a close observer known only as Four- Eyes. "Like, say, calling tall guys Shorty and right- handers Lefty. Why is Attorney General John Ashcroft Snake Hips — or is that Rumsfeld? No, he's Pistol Pete. Wait a minute, maybe Rumsfeld is Chickenman and Pistol Pete is Christie Whitman. Aw, I give up." Asked by reporters about the impending nickname hot-line project, the president himself expressed surprise at the idea and said he had no information he was aware of. "For that," he replied, "You'd have to talk to Stilts." --Bruce McCall, 2/18/01




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