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The President’s interpreter

Dear readers,

I wanted you to be the first to know. I have been appointed by President Bush to be his special interpreter. This is a unique position created by the President himself and I am deeply honored. It also shows Mr. Bush’s inherent love for freedom of the press and a special quality of forgiveness, since I have been known to be critical of his policies and am not a regular churchgoer (or an irregular one, for that matter).

First, let me explain the nature of the position. I will not be interpreting for Mr. Bush when he meets with foreign leaders since I have no knowledge of foreign languages and some would say am barely literate in my own. I will be interpreting the words of the President for the American people, who polls show are still a bit bewildered after Mr. Bush’s primetime press conference several weeks ago.

As my first task, I will give you a retroactive translation of the President’s extemporaneous remarks in that press conference in case you nodded off, reached for a joint to clear your head or decided you’d go to bed early and attempt infrequent sex with your spouse of many years:

"Right off, let me address why we are in Iraq today and why it is imperative that we stay the course. While I admit that none of the reasons I gave for invading Iraq have turned out to be true, that doesn’t mean my heart wasn’t in the right place. After all, when Columbus stumbled upon the New World and thought it was India, he didn’t have the liberal media all over his back asking picky questions. Remember that Columbus had believed that India would yield precious spices such as curry. The fact that he found barbecue sauce in the New World didn’t change the importance of his discovery. And where the hell would we all be today if Columbus had backed off when he found out that he had made a simple and understandable navigational error?

"This leads me to that business about whether I have made any mistakes either before 9-11 or afterward. Now that I have been given more time to contemplate that obviously tricky question, I am prepared to acknowledge some minor errors on the job. My first mistake was in not allowing Al Gore to take this damned job because, in so doing, I had to give up my season pass to the Texas Rangers (although now that Alex Rodriguez has been traded to the Yankees, that hurt has been diminished somewhat).

"Perhaps my most serious error was in agreeing to that primetime press conference without Dick Cheney by my side. This after I let Tim Russert mug me on Meet the Press six weeks ago. That’s why I will only appear before the 9-11 commission with Dick by my side. This way, if some smart-aleck liberal on the commission asks me if I will admit to any mistakes, Cheney can pop right in and answer, ‘Colin Powell.’

"Another thing, at that press conference, I made an unfortunate remark about nobody wanting to see dead bodies on their television. Let me clarify what some would say was an insensitive comment. There are lots of people who like to see dead bodies on their television screens. They watch CSI: Miami.

"Regarding our continuing quest for weapons of mass destruction, you’ll remember that I said something about finding canisters of mustard gas on a turkey farm. That was false information given to me by my loyal head of the CIA, George Tenet. It turned out that those were jars of mustard and it wasn’t a farm at all, but a local diner that has this great deal on turkey dinners. But I assure you we will keep looking because what the hell else can we do? We might have to invade another country to find them and you can be sure we will find them someplace because the whole world couldn’t have disarmed overnight, could it?

"I also made a curious comparison between our occupying Iraq and me being occupied. I meant that I was preoccupied and had gotten as bored with those silly questions at the press conference as apparently the rest of you did — especially you ticked-off American Idol fans who have been jamming the White House switchboard.

"Thank you and God bless America (no interpretation needed)."

In the coming months, as the President’s interpreter, I will be explaining his feelings about the economy — for instance, how flipping burgers at McDonald’s should be counted as "manufacturing jobs," how larger deficits fuel prosperity and why there’s no business like big business (I think Ethel Merman sang that on Broadway).

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