New Year fantasy 

Bush resigns. Says he was just foolin’. Cheney feels his own pain in chest.

In a rare crisis of conscience, said to be brought about by excessive cranial activity, otherwise known as thinking, President-elect George Bush has announced that the time has come to end his near-presidency “before I get myself into some real trouble.”

Although Bush has not formally taken the oath of office yet, and was not scheduled to do so for nearly another month, the former Texas governor, who is now the former almost-but-not-quite-president, described his actions in a press conference at his ranch today as a “proactive type of thing.”

“I’ve always considered myself to be the kinda guy who, when he sees a storm brewin’ on the horizon, makes a decision to move himself — meaning myself — indoors before the storm hits the fan instead of afterwards. You know what I’m sayin’? That way you keep from getting yourself wet. Or struck by lightning. Proactive. It’s what I’ve always been about, and it’s what I’m about today. You know, that lightning can really hurt a guy. Did you know that?”

Dressed in a brand-new pair of cowboy boots, blue jeans, and a shirt that can best described as cowboy wannabe, Bush seemed relaxed and at ease with himself as he leaned over the fence and cracked jokes with no one in particular.

“That was a good one, wasn’t it?” he said several times, laughing and shaking his head.

But then he came back to himself and everything was fine once again. Or at least so it seemed. For example, when one reporter asked whether Bush harbored any regrets about bowing out as president before he’d even spent a day behind the desk as commander in chief of the most powerful nation on earth, Bush smiled good-naturedly and responded, “I have nothing in the harbor, that is correct.”

And when another reporter asked the whereabouts of vice president-but-not-quite Dick Cheney, Bush, still smiling and radiating the famed Bush confidence, responded, “I’m afraid you’ll have to pose that question to Mr. Cheney himself, my friend. But hey, if you do find him, be sure and tell him ole George Dubya said ‘No hard feelings,’ all right?”

Cheney was not the only one who made his presence felt as a notable absence. None of Bush’s family were anywhere in sight. Neither were any of the almost cabinet members that Bush had appointed “just to see how it felt to appoint somebody.” Although some occasional loud cursing could be heard coming from the ranch house behind him, and although those curse words seemed to be quite clearly directed at him, Bush continued to insist that he was the only one at the ranch and that the rest of the family were all gathered at Kennebunkport playing bobbing for apples, pin the tail on the donkey (“We use a real live donkey!”), and other fun Bush family traditions. When asked why he wasn’t there himself instead of spending the holidays alone on his ranch in Texas, Bush’s smile shrank down somewhat until it became a noticeably strained grin.

“Well, let’s just say I don’t think it’ll be that much fun for everybody this year. It’s kinda scary tryin’ to bob for those apples when your wife keeps holding your head underwater in that tiny little barrel.”

Asked if he was serious that Laura Bush might actually try to dispatch her husband with extreme prejudice just because he decided to admit he had only been running for president as a joke, Bush laughed and shook his head good-naturedly.

“I don’t think so, no. I mean I doubt it. Is that what you’re asking?”

Moving right along, Bush was asked how he would respond to Vice President Al Gore’s surprising challenge, made after he’d heard of Bush’s “joke,” that “I’d like to meet that little daddy’s boy son of a bitch in an alley somewhere and beat him like a rented stepchild,” Bush pointed out that Gore would have to catch him first, “and you can bet some money that I’m a whole lot faster than Robo Boy. I’ve been runnin’ from things a whole lot longer than he has, pal.”

Contacted later, when Gore was told of Bush’s response, the vice president appeared at first to be calm and in iron-tight control of his emotions. Aides who stood on either side of Mr. Gore and in front of more than 50 American flags being blown about by a huge fan cheerily complimented the new Emotion Control 2001 software that had recently been installed in the hard drive located just behind the frontal lobe of his brain.

“I’d just like to say that this remarkable software has made me a better person, a better American, and better than just about anyone else I know. And let me also say that I was certainly in the wrong the other day when I inexplicably lost control of the better angels that I was sure had been installed in my nature and regrettably expressed a primitive desire to beat Gov. Bush like ... what was that I said? A rented stepchild? Well just let me emphasize what I am sure we have all come to realize by now, namely that there is no such thing as a rented stepchild. I hope Gov. President-elect-almost Bush, or whatever he prefers to call himself, will accept my sincerest apologies. My better angels have been upgraded, reinstalled, and I understand they are working perfectly.”

Mr. Gore then smiled ferociously and began waving for nearly 10 minutes, even after the cameras had been turned off and most of the reporters had left the office. When asked later why vice president Gore had continued to wave for so long, an aide whispered that the new software still had a few glitches that needed to be worked out.

“Whenever the vice president becomes, like, reeeeeeally ticked off? Yeah, well, waving his arm is the only way he can avert excessive pressure buildup. In short, if he didn’t keep waving he would have blown up. No kidding.”

Back on the ranch, Bush smiled good-naturedly and marveled at the miracle of modern technology that is Gore.

“Seriously? Al was gonna blow up? Now that’s funny.”

Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail to letters@metrotimes.com

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