Mark Twain’s significant other, Samuel Clemens, once remarked that “Journalism is the first rough draft of history.” Not any more.
Someone else will have to take up the skein of our time and weave it into the rich tapestry of days, someone who with the mind’s eye envisions the greater pattern of history on the warp, and with the keen eye of nature picks out the embroidery which will enliven our small corner on the loom of ages, binding the weft and woof of circumstance and character together. Or somebody who can knit.
Until that genius comes along, it will have to be me, because I can do a fair running stitch–and it’s a good time to be running. I will seal these notes in a container impervious to the elements, such as a sandwich bag, and place them somewhere where they will not be discovered for a thousand years. I’m thinking the front step of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
In the future, when Man has once again risen from the mire to reclaim his place in the natural order between the three-toed sloth and the walrus, people will want to know: what happened to you guys in the beginning of the 21st Century? And where are all the trees? I can help them with the first question, by explaining modern events in language so simple a child could read it to the President. The facts are few and ever-changing, but I have drawn up a rough chronology:
It all started when George W. Bush (R–Texas), upset over losing the election of 2000 to an earth-toned man, set out to erase the legacy of the previous president, the moderate Republican William Clinton. Clinton was a very wicked man indeed, with a penis the size and shape of Florida, a comparison which caused a great deal of trouble during the election as people in Florida were afraid to touch anything, just in case it wasn’t Florida they were standing on. When Bush discovered that Clinton had ingeniously left no legacy behind, he flew into a rage. Unfortunately this would not be the last time someone flew into something during this turbulent period.
Bush, who inherited the presidency from his father, was accused of being the son of privilege, out of touch with ordinary Americans (white men from Illinois) despite superficial similarities such as a DUI offense and owning a baseball team. He may have been a big phony, but Bush had real grit and determination, even when things were going his way. For instance, he attended both Harvard and Yale and got passing marks, even though he could not read or talk. By this time he was 40, and his mother, J. Edgar Hoover, threw him out of the house. Some years later his friends got together and bought him a new house in Washington, D.C., a suburb of the Military Industrial Complex. When Al Gore, the President Elect, failed to show up for work, Bush stepped into the breach. This is when the record begins to get murky.
George W. Bush found himself nominal leader of an angry, divided nation. Only the total absence of opposition from the Democrats, a group of lobbyists for Americans born without spines, enabled him to get anything done at all. Luckily, Bush was surrounded by his very seasoned Administration, mostly corporate leaders who knew what was coming and so left the private sector (a suburb of the Military Industrial Complex). With their wide range of expedience, these men (Condoleeza Rice) developed plans to lift the burden of taxes and human rights from the backs of their close circle of friends, based upon the “trickle down” economic theory, as in “trickle down Alan Greenspan’s leg”. Which it was soon to do.
Unfortunately popular opposition to many of Bush’s more ambitious plans meant he would have to proceed with them anyway. So he did, but without a solid rationale that would help obscure his actual purpose, to send the entire world to Hell in a hand basket (a suburb of the Military Industrial Complex). But a bizarre twist of Fate (the statue behind John Ashcroft) suddenly gave Bush carte blanche to do whatever he wanted-which is all he ever asked in the first place. Osama Bin Laden, an old pal of Bush’s father Manzanita Bush, was angry about some old thing or other from back when Pops was running the CIA (a popular nightclub on 47th Street in the days when you could still get uncut cocaine from Columbia).
Something dreadful happened next; ask someone else about it. Suffice it to say that Bush hit the trifecta:
1. The country needed a leader, and once the Air Force let him out of the bunker, Bush was the guy with ” a leader” written on his lapel sticker, right under the smiley face that says “Hi, I’m. . .” Fortified with phenobarbitol, Bush started leading right away.
2. The media reset all previous issues to zero, effectively erasing all memory of the Bush Administration’s troubles until that time, and gave him a ten-minute head-start just to be sporting. Bush never looked back, nor did anyone else.
Some say Vice President Dick ‘Nitroglycerine’ Cheney died of a heart attack (Charles Krauthammer) at about this time, which might account for his increasingly erratic behavior. In any case, Bush got whatever he asked for, in much the manner to which he was accustomed. The Bill of Rights was removed from the Constitution, making it shorter and thus more likely Bush would someday read it—although with characteristic fortitude he did nothing of the kind. Instead he directed the Legislative Branch of the government (John ‘Torquemada’ Ashcroft) to start rounding up evil doers. Only years later would we discover he meant evil Dewars, a brand of Scotch he’d been drinking on Air Force One that fateful day. Then someone with a phone book told Bush the evil doers were Saudi Arabian, as was the mastermind behind the whole thing, a homosexual cloth puppet named Bert. All fingers and Bill Clinton’s penis pointed directly at Saudi Arabia. We immediately commenced bombing Afghanistan, due to an outdated map. By a stroke of good fortune (not the one that got Dick Cheney) Osama Bin Laden, Bert’s “roommate”, was in that very country!
Here is where Bush’s lucky streak ran out. Someone forgot to latch the screen door and Bin Laden escaped, despite billions of dollars worth of bombs cleverly disguised as food aid packages. The war was declared won on points, which was unsatisfactory to everyone the media wasn’t asking. The problem was that the war had been declared not on “Afghanistan”, which can be located simply by asking around, but on “Terror”, which has no fixed abode.
And then things got even worse. Bush, who as noted took all the best corporate leaders for himself, left American Business with nobody at the wheel (Kenneth Lay). A series of corporate scandals and financial disasters followed which rocked the entire world to its foundations, except the stock market, which had no foundations and merely fell through a hole in the earth’s crust. But Bush was surrounded by his team of experts, without whose help things might have improved on their own; as it was, things got worse. Bush was directly implicated in a variety of scandals, as was Dick ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ Cheney, who died of shame. And there were midterm elections coming up, and everybody except the media was going crazy about the economy (Paul Krugman).
Donald Rumsfeld, the famous wrestler, had an idea one morning while Bush was reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, a book on economics by Milton Friedman. Bush was really just looking at the pictures, but the effect was the same. Rumsfeld had a vision in his sleep in which he saw Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein (played by Cheech Martin) eating a piano which then turned into a plate of clams and began singing the ‘Toreador Song’ from Bizet’s opera ‘Carmen’. At last they had very real evidence that Saddam-Oh, look! Over there, is that a giraffe? No? Ah, it was just a pangolin rearing up on its hind legs, or a flower. . . What was I saying? Anyway.
Now all that remained was to convince World Leaders that Saddam was indeed up to this very activity and Iraq needed to be bombed flat again (a kind of family tradition with the Bushes). Ariel Sharon, who owns a bulldozer rental place in Israel, was all for it. Armed with a photograph of a Wal-Mart being built in New Jersey, Bush convinced Tony Blair, England’s first female Prime Minister, to get on board for the big win. The rest of the world-even Bush’s favorite pal, Vlad “Pooty-Poot” Putin, author of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, turned their backs on him. They blamed it on everything: rejecting the World Court, scoffing at the Kyoto treaty, violating the Nuclear Test Ban, calling Nelson Mandela a “nignog”; but we all know what the real problem was: they were jealous of our freedoms! This may partially explain why these freedoms were taken away, to keep the Europeans from breaking them ‘accidentally on purpose’ during recess. Somebody did that to Bush once, at school: they broke the horn off his bike, the one he liked to honk and honk and honk. He was so tore up about it he barely got his MBA.
Spurned by Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, Canada, and Robert Novak, Bush began building consensus in the oil-rich nations of the Middle East, lest he be accused of being all hat and no cartel. This process is much like handing little photocopied notices to everybody on your block that you’re having a party with a live D.J. and it may get pretty noisy, pretty late, so please don’t call the police. About the only country willing to talk the whole thing over was Iraq. As if Bush didn’t have enough troubles, however, some nut, probably Colin Powell, started bombing Iraq without telling anybody–just one of those slip-ups where someone asked the bomber pilots where they were going with all those payloads of smart bombs (Paul Wolfowitz) and they said “Oh, over that way” and waved their hands vaguely Southeast, and the next thing anybody knows we’re bombing Iraq. Dick Cheney was so shocked by this turn of events he died.
The one-year anniversary of Bush’s trifecta has recently passed, and all that had once looked so rosy for his Administration now looks more like what you plant roses in. That’s all I know, so far, as nothing else has yet happened. But I hope these little notes help future generations make sense of this chaotic time. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ben Tripp is a screenwriter. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org