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Sunday, Oct. 16, 2005

COUNTERPOINT

Havin' a talk with 'God' and his Oval Office cronies


Special to The Japan Times

U.S. President George W. Bush has apparently declared, in a program to be aired next week on the BBC, that God instructed him to "fight the terrorists" in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dear readers, you won't believe this, but just as I was reading about comments the president made, I had a miraculous phone call from none other than the president himself . . . oops, I almost wrote Himself.

At first I thought it was a friend of mine who does a mean impersonation of Bush impersonating a drunk Woody Allen. But no, it was the man himself, and what he proceeded to say positively floored me. "Roger," he said, "I read your articles religiously and I think it's about time we had a powwow. I'll send you a ticket to Washington."

"Oh, God, Mr., uh, President," I stammered, "I . . . uh, will that be a return ticket? I will be able to come back to Tokyo, won't I?"

"Why sure, buddy. I mean, the Japanese are our allies, aren't they? I respect the prime minister there. I took one look into his soul and I thought, 'This guy uses more pomade than Liberace!' "

I had to admire the president for his encyclopedic knowledge of Japan, and I boarded a flight to the capital of the world's soul superpower. In Washington, I was immediately escorted to a Cabinet meeting that was being held at the First National Church of Langley, Virginia.

The meeting was about to begin and all of the members of the Cabinet were sitting there, including Rupert Murdoch who looked very suave, and not at all out of place, in his clerical collar.

"People say that I have broken down the wall between church and state," said the president from the pulpit. "Well, look around here, folks. Any of you see any broken walls?" The Cabinet members chuckled heartily, but the president raised his hand to arrest the laughter. "We have a journalist here today who has embedded himself in Japan, and I want you all to answer his questions faithfully," he said, indicating with a sweep of his forearm that I was free to ask anyone there whatever I wished.

The first person whose brains I really wanted to pick was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who was sitting in the front pew decanting oil.

"Mr. Rumsfeld," I asked, "what are your contingency plans for the Middle East?" Rumsfeld gazed up at the pulpit and said, "Damascus will cease to be a city, and will become a heap of ruins, and the remnant of Syria will be like the glory of the children of Israel."

"Couldn't have expressed it better," said the president. "Tell the Fox network to check out Isaiah 17:1 to fill in for their evening broadcast." I was eager to find out from Vice President Dick Cheney if he had had any role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. "Do you have any revelations on this, Mr. Vice President?" I asked. The vice president opened his personal copy of the Bible, bound in rich "Halliburton morocco," and said in a deep voice, "Come up, and I will show you what must take place after this." Then he continued in a more shrill tone. "That is what was told to our favorite syndicated calumnist Robert Novak. No names, just truth."

The president once again spoke. "Tell Fox to check it out in Revelation 4:1 for details. The specifics are important if we're gonna formulate a coherent foreign policy for our friends in the media."

"Speaking of foreign policy," I said, "I'd like to ask Karen Hughes about her recent trip to the Middle East. And, if it's true that you are considering her as Alan Greenspan's replacement?"

"Of course I'm considering her. She's got all the qualifications, doesn't she? She's been a close and loyal friend to me, she went to high school in Texas and she has taught Sunday school in Austin."

"Pretty impressive resume," I said to Karen Hughes, who was genuflecting before the president and polishing the silver cross on his belt buckle.

"Thank you. Now, what can I do for you?" she replied.

"Well, I'd really like to know how your recent trip to the Middle East went. I mean, I bet your knowledge of how to handle an election was greatly appreciated in Egypt."

"It was awesome," she said, standing and slipping the silver polish into her handbag. "All the women I met desired the same thing."

"Democracy, freedom, that sort of . . ."

"No! Chanel, Gucci, Armani. Golly, I never knew that all the women of the Middle East were so rich. But, you know, as the president always says," she added, raising her glazed-over eyes to Bush, "it is better to give than to receive. So in Saudi Arabia I gave the women learners' permits for driving, valid in all states except Massachusetts."

"Wow, I'm sure they will treasure that."

"OK, enough's enough," interrupted the president, standing tall on a soapbox behind his podium. "One more question and we'll get you back to Dulles. Your flight back to Yokota leaves in an hour."

"One more? Can it be to you, Mr. President?"

"Hell, yeah. Fire away," he chortled.

"It's about American foreign policy. Our readers at The Japan Times are worried that we all might be headed for bigger wars. Can you enlighten us on this?"

"Well, you see, foreign policy is much too complex a thing to be random. It has to be intelligently designed by an intelligent designer. So don't worry, we'll make sure that things are lookin' good before the next elections come along. I got the Rev. Jerry Falwell workin' on bird flu and Tom DeLay on the ethics of stem cells. So, be at peace, Tom & Jerry are on the case!"

"Yes, but what about Iraq?" I asked pointedly, as four men in black escorted me backward out of the First National Church of Langley, Virginia. "What are you going to do about Iraq?"

The last thing I saw was the president's usual comforting smirk disappear from his face; and, shaking his head, he looked skyward, and softly said "God knows."



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