Sending Bush … to Albania
With the pardoning of Scooter Libby (sound bite: Libby served less jail time than Paris Hilton), George W. Bush has corrupted the office of the executive branch with a recklessness not seen since the Roman emperor Caligula had his horse confirmed as a senator.While the Bush approval rating plummeted last week to the numerical equivalent of our chief executive’s IQ, Americans celebrated the Fourth of July with gusto, exhibiting a strange disconnect between fevered patriotism and the grim realities of America’s past and present.The Fourth of July conjures an image of national greatness that brings tears to the eyes. Emotion floods our collective soul regardless of the fact that our great nation was wrested from the hands of Native Americans through genocidal warfare and has been perpetuated ever since through domination, exploitation and war. But that is not a patriotic sentiment and has no place in a family newspaper, let alone in our school textbooks.When it comes time for a Star-Spangled rah-rah for the old red, white and blue, the gross evils of our nation’s past get somehow swept under the rug in the Oval Office. We take you there now as President Bush reposes in gloomy reflection on how he was once a heroic figure standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier crowing about American supremacy, but now languishes in lonely despair.Poor Bush. Even his aids and interns refrain from making real eye contact. His daughters are off who-knows-where. His mom and dad are wondering what happened to the gene pool. Uncle Dick is in the war room ranting to himself about Iran, North Korea and the First Amendment. Wife Laura, loyal to a fault, is compassionate, but firm, assuring her beleaguered husband that one day it will all blow over like a bad dream. (“So, wake up, you fool!”)Then Bush glances at a small framed picture on his desk. It shows him surrounded by adoring, smiling faces, a faint pontiff-like halo encircling his graying head. In that small, framed picture, Bush is being loved, and it suddenly touches him deeply, hitting him in the solar plexus with powerful nostalgia for happier days in friendlier places.The picture was taken in Albania on a recent presidential tour where Bush was reaching out to touch the void of unfortunate have-nots in this small and innocuous principality. Rumor has it that Albania was nowhere on the presidential radar until Air Force One got off course and landed in Tirane. (Bush had caused the navigational error by donning a jump suit and taking the controls himself.)Once there, he threw caution to the wind and waded through surging crowds. He touched hands as hands touched him. And boy, did they touch him … practically everywhere, which made the experience warm, cuddly and somewhat erotic for the chief executive, who simply couldn’t get enough of this unconditional Albanian love.As it turns out, most Albanians thought Bush was Bono (there had been a misprint in the program) and had come to heap praise upon the rock-star-turned-humanist. To Bush, it was the transcendent experience of his political career, a rare opportunity to take center stage in a Woodstock-like love-fest, to bask beneath a barrage of blessings that made him feel like the Savior himself. (He sometime has that illusion.)As Bush studies the photo, a tear gathers in his eye. “Oh, if only the American people could love me like that, especially on Independence Day.” But they’re too busy eating hot dogs, gulping Cokes, too bitter about high gas prices, the War in Iraq, the pardoning of a convicted felon, wire-tapping, secret prisons, lies, deceit, incompetence, stupidity, arrogance, ignorance and the thousands of war dead planted like bulbs in a tulip farm beneath the sod at Arlington.”Albania. That’s the place for me,” thinks Bush. “When my term is over, when the editorial writers, cartoonists, pundits, and bloggers don’t have me to kick around anymore, I’ll show ’em. I’m still loved in Albania!”George will sell the ranch in Texas for a princely sum (Josh Saslove will be the broker), then buy a lavish palace in Albania (again Saslove) complete with a retinue of loyal servants and adoring sycophants (Get busy, Josh). That’s where he’ll commission his marble statue, head wreathed in laurels as hands reach toward him to caress and comfort with the unconditional love he’s always needed, but never found … except in Albania.Paul Andersen’s column appears Mondays.