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An idea in the hand is worth two in the……. bye bye dubya



I haven’t got round to doing anything on Oven-chip McCain or Shotgun Sally. Or even Charmer Obama and Biding-my-time-Biden. So with political delight and relief but comic sadness, an old piece to mark a passing that will still a thousand quips – bye bye George, it’s been, well…..surreal.

(About the time that Michael Moore’s polemical lampoon film Fahrenheit 9/11 came out G W Bush announced he was cutting funding for the Mars exploration project. For American readers – Sir Patrick Moore is one of the UK’s best known Astronmers)
Location: White House private apartments. Present: George W Bush, Laura Bush
Scene: Laura has been knitting – a very long, red, white and blue scarf trails over her chair and across the floor. Beyond the scarf is an indoor golf cup. Around it but nowhere near it, are dozens of golf balls.
Action: Laura Bush (LB) is winding a ball of wool from a skein held up, hands apart, by George Bush(GB).

GB Hun do I really have to do this?

LB Yes dear.

GB (Looks across at golf balls)
It’s just that I need my golf practice.

LB (Looks momentarily across at the widely dispersed golf balls)
Yes I can see that dear. This won’t take long.

GB It’s also embarrassing: I’m President of the United States yet I’m sitting here feeling as if I’m doing something stupid just because you tell me to.

LB (Thoughtfully)
Well dear, I’ve decided that when in Rome…..

GB We goin’ to Rome?

LB No dear.

GB But you said…..

LB (Impatiently)
George! We’ve been through this: when there’s something you don’t understand, you jut out your jaw, frown, try very hard not to smirk, and say very loudly “Next!”

GB I know Hun but it gets real boring.

LB Well we agreed you could sometimes say “let’s move on.”

GB Yeah. I know. It seems to work but I never think it will.

LB Trust us George. This was Dick Cheney’s idea and he’s been the CEO of a Corporation for years so he knows it works: makes you sound decisive. Anyway we always check out the tapes every night with Rummy, Dick and Wolfie to pick up anything you’ve missed.

GB (Bored)
Yeah well that’s pretty boring too. Feels like Groundhog Day.

LB Well dear, after you’d seen it the second time and got the hang of it – you said you loved the film.

GB I guess. (still looks about, bored).
It’s just that I thought I’d get more done in this job.

LB You have dear. Look at your golf handicap – that’s down 5 strokes.

GB I suppose. (The following starts slowly and gradually slips into oratory)
And better still: I’ve freed a nation from an endless cycle of violence and exploitation, and planted a seed of true democracy in a world of sin and unbelief. (ends on a flourish)

LB (Pause. Then very matter of factly)
Yes dear….but perhaps we’ll stick with the golf handicap.

GB (Still restless)
Do ya know Hun, I wonder if I made the right life choices. It’s OK being President but sometimes I wonder if I should have gone a different road. I mean…should I have been a brain surgeon….or even better, an airline pilot……whaddya think?
LB (Looks up from knitting, stares fixedly into the distance, thinking. Then, slightly horrified).
I don’t think so dear.

GB Oh well. No harm done. All’s well that ends well eh?

LB Yes dear.

GB (Phone rings) (Thankfully sheds the wool)
I’ll have to take this Hun, it might be important.

LB Of course dear. (carries on knitting)

GB (Picks up phone – barks at speaker)

Voice Moore here.

GB Christ! Mike how… (Laura interjects vehemently)

LB George! (He looks sheepish)

GB Jeez….I mean… shit Mike how’d you get through? You’re banned since that Goddam…er..half-assed movie.

Voice Mike? Mike who?

GB C’mon Mike a phoney accent won’t work. Don’t play dumb with me…I’m an expert.

Voice Mr President sir, I am Sir Patrick Moore. Though I say it myself, I am an eminent English astronomer.

GB (Sarcastically)
OK your eminence, we’ll play it your way. If you’re an astronomer…prove it!

PM I beg your pardon?

GB Go on…prove it.

PM And how exactly, sir, do I do that?

GB (Thinks a moment…then blurts out)
What’s my star sign?

PM (Incredulously)
Pardon me…..your what?

GB My star sign smartass…what’s my star sign?

PM (Standing on his dignity)
My dear sir…I am a serious scientist.

GB OK…so why did you say you were an astronomer?

PM Sir, an astronomer investigates the stars with all the rigour of science: an astrologer, with whom you appear to be confusing me, looks at the stars like an illiterate quack.

GB (Stretching words out mockingly)
“With whom”….nice one Mike…gotta hand it to ya…it sounds convincing. Whatever, it’s still got to do with stars, right?

LB George!

GB (Juts out jaw, frowns, draws himself up, and barks down the phone)…..
Right! Let’s move on. What can I do for you?

PM Well Mr President sir…

GB Call me George.

PM Very well….George…..I am calling on a most crucial matter. My organisation in the UK has heard that you intend to withdraw funding for Mars exploration. Is that so?

GM (Shiftily)
Well Pat…

PM Call me Sir Patrick.

GM Well.. Sir Patrick….You’ve got it wrong. My Administration remains totally committed to the invasion of Mars.

PM Invasion?

GB Not invasion….you know what I mean. (Mutters a few words quietly to himself. Searching. Light dawns. Triumphantly)….

PM (Wearily)
Nearly there George.

GB Exploration. That’s it. We remain committed to the exploration of Mars…(afterthought).. for the benefit of all mankind.

PM I’m very pleased to hear that sir. And my associates will be pleased also.

GB Associates?

PM In the advanced inter-planetary travel group.

GB Interplanetary? (Incredulously) You’re an advanced interplanetary travel group? (Hand over phone, turns to LB and hisses)
Laura! Switch the tapes on. (LB gets up and flicks a switch on the wall).

PM Yes. We’ve had an enormous amount of trouble getting through to you. But the proper protection of Mars is very close to our hearts. We are totally committed.

GB (To Laura, whispers)
Jeez…..just like the movies. It’s a “take me to your leader deal”
(Down the phone….magisterially)
Greetings my brothers! I trust you come in peace.

PM (Outraged) My dear sir….I….am English!

GB You mean you ain’t…….

PM (pause) We are British astronomers specialising in the study of Mars.

GB Prove it!

PM Dear God…not again…..How?

GB Name the planets.

PM Are you joking?

GB (Gleefully)
See?…..You can’t do it.

PM Very well: (very fast) MercuryVenusJupiterUranusMarsNeptuneSaturnEarthPluto. (Pause. Afterthought)
Of course strictly, Pluto is not primarily a planet.

GB I knew that.

PM (Surprised)
You did? What do you know about Pluto?

GB Crazy dog right? Hangs out with Mickey and his pals.

PM What in God’s name are you talking about?

GB Mickey, Goofy, Donald, Pluto…Aw c’mon don’t you take Mickey in the UK?

PM Well I must say at the moment its very tempting…

GB So Sir Patrick. Have I reassured you about Mars?

PM Sir, I really have no idea. I’ve never had a conversation like this before.

GB Yeah…I bet. See how the press gets me wrong? Anyway, don’t you worry, I’ll check out the Mars funding with Donald tomorrow.

PM (Shrieks)

GB Rumsfeld. (Loud click – GB winces at the noise and hangs up the phone)
Ha! How’d ya like them apples Mr Moore?

LB (Mildly)
Who was that dear?

GB Aw… just Mike Moore….. thinking he can put on a phoney accent and tempt me into sounding stupid. But I’m more than a match for him Hun aren’t I?

LB (Sharp. Loud).

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