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SCRIP SEARCH
President Seeks Cure for Iraq

WASHINGTON, DC –– Not since Yahweh prescribed two tablets to Moses on Mount Sinai have a set of dicta been more widely heralded than those of the Iraq Study Group report. Outstripping _od's meager 10, the Baker-Hamilton cabal mustered 79 Commandments for the Bush Administration to cleave to in prosecuting its war in Iraq. Before the online inscription of these nostrums, commentators predicted that the President would use the cover provided by the report to save face as he downsized his goals allowing troops to come home. However, the lightning bolt that accompanied the final handing down of the document mostly produced the smell of rotten eggs.

The "suicide apes" of the Right branded Baker and Hamilton "surrender monkeys" for characterizing the situation in Iraq as "grave and deteriorating" and for suggesting benchmarks for the Iraqi government be set and threatening to withdraw military aid if (if? –– that's vintage Velvet Hammer) they aren't reached. The idea that the US should negotiate with hostile states like Iran and Syria shocked many conservatives including Vice President Cheney who was at court with King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, home of 9/11 martyrs. Emerging from beneath the royal's robes, the VP placated his extremely staunch ally who had just warned him that Saudi Arabia may back the Sunnis if the US pulls out of Iraq. "I assured his Crudeness –– little oil humor there –– we'd never talk with our enemies in Tehran when we can get bitch slapped by our buds in Riyadh."

The chorus of condemnation suggests that the process was set up solely to provide Adminstration defenders with a magic bullet to use against its critics. Having posed an unsolvable mystery –– how to escape a perfect disaster –– they hoped to demonstrate that they're not the only ones without a clue. Even as the report was shit-canned around town, Bush dutifully extended the charade of seeking out fresh advice vowing to venture beyond the West Wing. In the East Wing he made calls to an array of experts, including State Department and Pentagon yes hawks, America's ambassador in Iraq (collect), influential professors, think-tankers and the guy at Moviefone.

Even as he put off the announcement of a new policy until January (spokesman Tony Snow jokingly said it was because he wanted be sure to "get it right") he released a list of parties he was expecting to confer with. These are said to include escape artist/exhibitionist David Blaine, Parade magazine's "genius gal" columnist, Marilyn Vos Savant, State of Fear author and reactionary visionary Michael Crichton, and Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ("not because of Nam, but because he's 90 and can't hear too well.")

Noting that the quandary of Iraq is comparable to that of "the Riddle of the Sphinx or picking the right suitcase on Deal or No Deal", the President expects to reach out to Stephen Hawking ("smart and I like his last name") for a Unified Theory of Democratization and a wide range of PhD's who might possess a "magic formula" including Dr. Rice, Dr. Kissinger, Dr. Laura, and Dr. Phil. A resolute Demander-in-Chief insisted, "I promise not to take no for an answer even though there is no answer."


OPERATION DUMBO DROP
Can Republican Girlie-Men be Pumped Up?

WASHINGTON, DC –– After the Midterm Massacre Republican PACderms lumbered their way to Arlington National Elephant Burial Grounds, bearing the bones of Neoconservatism. As Richard Perle bugled Taps, the ballot-riddled ideology was laid to rest by pall bearers that included William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Vice President Dick Cheney and Ex-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The group declined Mr. Rumsfeld's offer to fall on his bayonet and join the disgraced ism in its grave. Looking down at the doctrine interred in an urn the size of a Dixie Cup, Mr. Kristol commented wistfully, "Seeing it there, so small and lonely, it's hard to believe it ever was an ideology that anyone took seriously. Maybe it was a mere conceit, a bagatelle, a flight of fancy, but..." he added with a catch in his voice, "God, how we loved it."

Ever the optimist (and not yet in possession of a briefing paper that summarized the election results), President Bush congratulated "the winners" and insisted that it was time for his party to "not cry over split milk" and to take "the initialitive" and redefine itself for the 2008 campaign. To that end the incoming Republican National Committee Chair-man Sen. Mel "Medianoche" Martinez (R-FL) has vowed to convoke the party brain trust to define a winning strategy. These Red Tide riders are to include likely Presidential contenders, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), incipient Senate Minority Leader Bill Frist and former reputed funny man Dennis Miller. The star attraction and designated political life coach will be California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Beyond the obvious goals of repealing the natural born citizen requirement for the Presidency and the legalization of human growth hormone for all office-seekers, the Governator (who can resist that charming appellation?) is set on "vipping the vipped girlie-men of my potty into shape." Conan the Republican (you gotta love it!) insists that, "Ve must do nationally vat ve did in Caulifornia. Ven your opponent says "I'll pee dere for you" to der voter, ve must say, "I'll pee back." Oh, und "Hasta la vista, crybaby." Hah, hah, shnap."

"Voters are just crazy about Ahnuld," observed Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), "even those Santa Monica Socialists. I think we all should be smoking cigars and driving Hummers and groping whomever. We need to recruit a new crop of political action stars with impenetrable accents for our side. How about Governor Jean-Claude Van Damme? Sen. Jackie Chan? Rep. Christophe Lambert? After we've rigged the Democrat primaries to get Hillary nominated, what else can we do?"


PERVERSIONARY TACTICS
Party of Lincoln's Log Cabin Logic

WASHINGTON, DC –– Accusations of gay sex with a Denver hustler leveled against Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and White House confidante, suggest that Republicans are making a last-ditch effort to broaden their base on the eve of a tough midterm election. Faced with drooping polls, the GOP is hoping to jack up support with a stealth Gay Old Party strategy. Hoping to play both sides against the middle in a kind of Capital Gang Bang, the party will continue to espouse a ban on gay marriage and conservative Christian values even as they "reach around" to stroke the alternative-lifestyle set with a series of queeralicious news leaks.

Unmarried RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, who now prefers his name be pronounced Maleman, stated, "We haven't changed our family values stand one teensy, tiny bit. We just want to expand our Big Tent–– in smashing fall paisley –– to accommodate all Americans. Our internal polls (ouch!) indicate that most gays, no matter how sinful their lifestyle, tend to be well-off and secretly adore our tax cuts and tight fiscal policy. These bitches are closet neocons or as, Karl Rove likes to say, 'soccer moms with two balls.'"

The revelation of Rep. Mark Foley's cybersex pursuit of Congressional male pages apparently proved quite effective in reaching several non-traditional GOP constituencies including chickenhawks (not the didn't-serve-in-the-miltary-but-sent-soldiers-off-to-die kind –– they were already on board), online predators-, alcoholics, nosy onanists and Catholic bishops (who overwhelmingly approved Speaker Hastert's handling of Foley.) Though some red state bluenoses expressed outrage, they were expected to still vote R on November 7. Encouraged by the results, the RNC reviewed their vast library of incriminating videotape, phone taps and computer logs searching for their very own Barney Frank.

Whether Mike Jones, the accuser, was prompted by political operatives to come forth and "Jimmy Swaggart" Ted Haggard or if it was just Lady Boy Luck, the effect on the crypto-gay Religious Right should be felt on Election Day. The RNC is banking on the continued support of the credulous Faithful –– like a church member who actually told AP, "People are always saying stuff about Pastor Ted. You just sort of blow it off" –– along with a healthy uptick in lavender ballots.

Similar efforts to reach across ethnic and racial lines have proven less fruitful as the revelation that Virginia's Sen. George Allen had Jewish ancestry didn't seem to significantly offset his referring to an Indian cameraman as a macaca monkey, so the GOP will continue to "think pink." "Expect further dish in the final days of the campaign that will flip your wig, sister," promised Mehlman. "We have tranny aldermen, dom deacons and pederast selectmen who will come out to you if you come out for them. Besides, even if this doesn't net one single extra vote, it's so much better than having to defend that God-awful war in Iraq. Puh-leaze!"


DOH! OF THE DEAD
Can Bush Cancel Grave Reservations?

BAGHDAD, Iraq –– Rumors of a chilling "October 31st Surprise" linked to the US midterm election rippled like a car bomb's shock wave through this war-torn capital. Spurred by nervous Republican incumbents who fear for their sinecures due in part to public dissatisfaction with his failed Iraqi policy, President Bush is expected to appear on Halloween in the Green Zone to æraise the Spirits of the troops." Donning the costume he wore to the post-9/11 pep rally at New York's Ground Zero and brandishing the same bullhorn to commemorate a comparable American death toll, the Commander-in-Grief will attempt to recast his war chant from "Stay the Course" to "Stay the Corpse."

A hooded Vice President Dick Cheney will attend with his personally- autographed copy of the Necronomican (referred to in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will bring some standard voodoo paraphernalia (mojo bags, dolls, needles, decapitated chickens) given to her by Haiti's President Preval. Despite the elaborate feathered Juju Hat she will wear, Sec. Rice wants Americans to know that the Administratio nisn't just"playing trick-or-treat with Iraq" and that they expect to work some "powerful hoodoo for these brave people and our heroic soldiers." Their ambitious goal is to couple modern media magic with the ancient black arts to revive public support for the war even as they breathe new life into a number of its fallen participants.

President Bush addressed the war's unpopularity in an interview conducted for a Fox News' Special called The War on Terror: Bwwahh-hah-hah scheduled to air on Halloween. Speaking to Brit Hume, who may or may not have been wearing a Herman Munster mask, the President offered, "Look, I know people die in war. You can turn on your TV and see that…at least, you could, 30, 40 years ago. Casualties are inevitable, but they are not acceptable. Death is the real enemy in the War on Terror, which is why Sec. Rumsfeld and I have been watching all of those George Romero zombie movies lately and consulting with the most eminent witch doctors and mad scientists in the field to try to come up with a multi-pronged strategy to reverse the so-called "dying process."

"Beyond the Black Mass/Revival Meeting Dick and Condi and me will conduct on the ground in Iraq, I have instructed our military leadership to rush the latest experimental reanimation technology –– stuff the FDA hasn't even seen yet –– to the hospital at our air base in Ramstein –– Ramstein, heh, there's a spooky name. It's not gonna be easy, but Dick assures me the odds of resurrecting our soldiers is on par with the chances of al-Maliki's government succeeding. Now, I want our supporters in Christ to understand that war demands extreme measures and sometimes you have to shake hands with the devil to win a victory for our Lord. Jesus himself raised the dead, and so we've code-named this ultimate pro-life program, Operation Lazarus."

The President, an eerie green spotlight illuminating his face from below, concluded, "It's a death and life struggle, but we shall prevail. And when we succeed we will have licked our public relations and recruitment problems by assembling an Undead Army ready to root out the dead-enders, proud to fight right alongside the deadbeats in the Iraqi Security Forces. Soldiers with no fear, no complaints, no insurance. S'funny, I always used to pronounce Marine Corps as Corpse, and now I'm dead right."


KIM CHEESED OFF
North Korea's Great Leader Mad, and Mad About UN Sanctions

NEW YORK, NY –– John Bolton, US Ambassador to the UN trumpeted the approval of a sweeping set of sanctions against the regime of Kim Jong-Il in North Korea or DPRK (pronounced "da' prick") in response to its recent "near-nuclear" bomb test. Bolton insisted that the US got everything it wanted in the punitive package ("short of water boarding Margaret Cho") and he hailed his colleagues for concocting constraints that would discomfort the country's leaders rather than its beleaguered populace.

As with the inscrutable short-range launchings in July of its No-Dong missile, Western experts are uncertain of the potency of this purportedly more-powerful device (the Lil-Dong), reporting that the level of radiation released in the atmosphere from its detonation was comparable to that of a micro-waved yam. Yet according to Bolton, "America refuses to be intimidated by a desperate, paranoid whack job who will do absolutely anything to stay in power, and who happens to possess a few ballistic weapons that can reach Tokyo or Seoul. We'll let Japan and South Korea quake in their kimonos."

Bolton illustrated the subtlety of the sanctions by citing three early provisions that didn't make the final package because they were judged too onerous for Mr. Public Jong-Qu. Bans on the export of edible gravel, oak bark toilet paper and cocktail umbrella lean-tos were all shelved.

Some of the adopted measures aimed at driving Kim Jong-Il even crazier include:

1) Banning the export of Jheri Redding One 'n Only Acid Perm, Garnier Fructis Volume Mousse and Conair Pro Blow Dryers.

2) Jamming the satellite transmission of Nick@Nite, G4, HSN and the Spice Channel.

3) Relocating Air America Radio to a barge in the Sea of Japan and boosting its signal to reach the three dozen known transistor radios in the capital (thus quadruling its previous average audience.)

4) Revoking the visas of Kim's back-up band, the Jong-Il Belles.

5) Levying a $2 excise tax on paraffin treatments at all US nail salons.

6) Downgrading the demarcation line between the Koreas to the 37th Parallel and Kim's title to "Not-So-Great Leader."

7) Mandating that the sound effect of a bullet's ricochet must accompany the utterance of the word "Pyongyang" in US newscasts.

8) Elevating North Korea from "The Axis" to "The Apex of Evil."

9) Embargoing the shipment of action films in DVD, VHS and 3-D View Finder formats, specifically titles starring Dolph Lundgren, Miles O'Keefe and Bob the Builder.

10) Enacting a relatively narrow ban on exported X-rated videos, targeting those with "smooth-shaven pale-skinned young females with oddly boyish buttocks, artificial limbs, and gold-leafed nipples pleasuring blind-folded little people."

11) Substituting inferior vinyl tubing on exported Penis Enlargement Vacuum Pumps.

12) Stepping up interdiction of heroin shipments via international waters, but only after Afghanistan's poppy-based economy is back on its feet.

China could exert the most meaningful pressure on its neighbor North Korea, and though Beijing tepidly supported the US proscriptions, it is reluctant to control trade across its vast border. Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya smiled indulgently as he said, "We know Kim is DPRK's Bad Boy, but he reminds us of us when we were young, homicidal Socialists."


RENDER BENDER
Bush Defends Alternative Deathstyles

WASHINGTON, DC –– President George W. Bush had sharp words for those who would discriminate against the "differently-coercive" minority in the US intelligence-gathering community. He slammed "the liberal media, so-called human-rights groups and weak-kneed lawmakers, including a fistful of Republicans" for verbally abusing the "truth-seekers" who toil in unnamed facilities here and abroad. He termed it his administration's top civil rights battle to protect the proclivities of the "persuasion-challenged" now threatened with legislation setting limits on their way of life.

"Many of these fine folks are members of the CIA or our proud military," fumed the President, "and i's ironic that the demagographers who're criticizing them for their "tendencies" are the same ones screaming "don't ask, don't tell" every time a gay soldier "salutes Pvt. Johnson." That's a double standard. The alternative interrogators we're talking about have every right to express themselves as they see fit with their detainee partners. And I don't think a former catcher like John McCain should be allowed to tell a hardball pitcher he can't throw inside."

"It's not like they're hurting anyone…except, of course, the detainees, but these are evil-doers we're talking about. They are getting what they deserve. They provide us with valuable intelligence to use against the enemy even as they provide their interviewers with a funny tingly sensation. It's win/win."

President Bush tried to put this latest chapter of compassionate conservatism into historical perspective. "Some say it's not right for the President of the United States to stand here and advocate beatings, canine intimidation, stripping prisoners, exposure to extreme temperature, sexual humiliation, water boarding (heh, sounds like that ought to be an event at the Beijing Olympics), and electric shock, but I say wake up and smell the singed short hairs. Never in our history have we faced so terrible an enemy. Never. Not in WWI or WWII or Korea or Grenada. These Islamo-Fascist-Commie-Environmentalists would kill every American if they could, eat the dead babies and establish a Caliphate from Tehran to Tucson. The out-dated Geneva Convention is just that: conventional, and in these dangerous times we must think outside the box to find new ways to put Ali inside a box."

"Besides, most of the heavy-duty work has been out-sourced to friendly sadists in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. We render onto ceaser and he grabs 'em by the cojones. The CIA and other agencies only play an advisory role, sort of like Dr. Ruth instructing the truth-seekers how to get the evil-doers to "Cry Uncle" and really like it." The President concluded ruefully, "I say to my critics, who asked you? Like my old National Guard CO used to say, "If we want your opinion, we'll beat it out of you."


DOCUTRAUMA
ABC's Dramedy of Errors

NEW YORK, NY –– Seeking to justify their heavily-criticized miniseries, The Path to 9/11, ABC programmers invoked the methods of pipsqueak celebrity author Truman Capote. "In Cold Blood was a true-crime story that was only enhanced by the author's creative embellishments. Our film is packed with facts and even though some of them are fudged, we only hope we are half as skillful at fudge-packing as Mr. Capote proved to be," offered company spokesman Ken Vague.


Mr. Vague labeled "absurd" charges by some in the liberal media that the series was motivated by a rightwing Hollywood cabal. "This isn't cabal television," he countered, "we're network." Members of the Clinton administration complained that scenes about their clueless actions prior to the attack were fabricated and were included to help shift some of the blame for unpreparedness from the Bush White House.

Producer Marc E. Platt insisted, "We were never politically motivated. I never had a conversation with anybody at the network, any of the actors, advisers, filmmakers or writers about politics. We also never discussed journalistic integrity, moral responsibility or dramatic coherence." Ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright expressed disdain for the project, but allowed that the controversy finally made her understand the concept of "wag the dog." "I always thought it was something Bill did with Monica in the Oval Office," she marveled.

Strong ratings for the show have convinced ABC to proceed with an expanded slate of "non-political", "bi-partisan", "semi-documentary", "3/4-bullshit" miniseries. Emission Accomplished will focus on the shocking sex scandals that brought the Presidency of Bill Clinton to the brink of impeachment, and the President to the brink of orgasm. Katrina: Wet and Wild will recount the utter failure of the Democrat Governor and Mayor to respond to that devastating hurricane, while dramatizing the internal squabbles and thorough incompetence of those responsible at the federal level during the Clinton years.
Saddam Hussein: Democrat Puppet will explore how the threat of the blood-thirsty Iraqi dictator was ignored by the United States from January 1993 until January 2001 and how Al Gore might have provided him with the formula for an "ozone-friendly" nerve gas to use against the Kurds.

Burger, King of Thieves, the shocking tale of Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Burger's treasonous theft of anti-terrorism documents in 2003 and the likelihood that he was smuggling them to Osama bin Laden with the tacit approval of the DNC. Blood on Their Hands: Roe v. Wade, a sensitive retelling of the history of baby-butchering in this country, including a portrait of Hillary Clinton's years as a backwoods abortionist in Arkansas. And in time for Election 2008: Evil Incarnate, an adaptation of My Life by Bill Clinton.


WAR IS MEL
Embattled Gibson's Fighting Words to Hawkish Hebrews

HOLLYWOOD, CA –– Actor/Director/Inebriate Mel Gibson's recent anti-Semitic tirade to arresting LA police officers has concerned citizens across America asking the same uncomfortable question, "How will this affect Box Office?" Though a handful, nary a minyan, of Hebraic Industry insiders have decried Gibson's hot tongue triple decker, it's still too soon to judge the ultimate fallout from his intemperate remarks.

Though he apologized for his rant, he did not take back his most explosive charge that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." The response to his forthcoming directorial effort Apocalypto will be closely monitored, but rumored changes have studio execs shvitzing but good. Initially bruited as an epic on the decline of Maya civilization with dialogue in an approximation of the original tongue, it's said that Gibson has been reediting the film to more closely fit his racial theories by renaming his warlike protagonists the Meyers and overdubbing their lines in Yiddish.

Like an overzealous mohel, it's been reported that he has also made significant cuts to his Oscar-winning blockbuster Braveheart for DVD rerelease, redubbing it Bravehersh and changing the ethnicity of many of the most militant clansmen from Scottish to Semitic. "They're already tight with a buck," reasoned our generation's D.W. Griffith, "and one of the really lost tribes could have made their way to the Highlands and incited a revolt."

Other films need less tinkering. His seminal character Mad Max was of indefinite lineage, but his surname Rockatansky suggests that his murderous impulses could well have been passed down from shtetl storm troopers. In his Revolutionary War film, The Patriot, the protagonists all have WASP names like Martin, Oliver and Scott, but any Hollywood insider could read behind those noms de guerre when he has Kosher colleagues named Douglas, Curtis and Ford. If a black guy can be named Washington, why can't King George III have been circumcised? The Vietnam conflict depicted in We Were Soldiers is tougher to pin on a Ho Chi Minsky, but Mao's Communist Party was ultimately to blame and it's generally accepted that the Chinese are the Jews of the Orient.

Even as DVD sales for The Passion of the Christ are expected to ascend anew to heavenly heights on the strength of Gibson's harangue, a subsidiary of his Icon Entertainment International, to be called Goy Way Video, will issue Semiticized versions of Hollywood's classic war flicks. Torah Torah Torah, Larry of Arabia, The Killing Felds, All Kvetching on the Western Front, Full Metal Jacket Marked Down, Cleopotroast, The Red Badge of Tsuris and The Cohen Mutiny are among its first scheduled releases.

A barely contrite Gibson allowed that his words might have been a "hook to the nose" of some of filmdom's Jews, but he added that they should be the first to see that he meant that they were "responsible for all wars" in the same sense that producers with lots of cash make Hollywood tick. He added, "You can't have a war without money, and the Rothschilds and a long line of Shylock-like money lenders have opened their purses to fund war and to profit from it over the centuries. There's no shame in that –– it's a fiduciary responsibility of which those people should be proud. Hey, and let's be honest, my own Lord was a Jew and tell me, in the last 1,000 years, how many people have been slaughtered in his name?"


THE DEFENSE RESTS IN PEACE
Lawyers Advise: "Decease and Dismiss."

HOUSTON, TX –– Mourners at the memorial service for Ken Lay expressed decidedly mixed emotions at the passing of Enron's disgraced ex-CEO. A contingent of former employees who had lost all of their pension investments when the company failed were in attendance, armed with wooden stakes and mallets in case their former boss should make a surprise reappearance. Shalene Weems, an administrative assistant choked back tears as she said, "I only wish I could've been there when that man collapsed…I would've massaged his chest with the back tires of my '97 Ford Focus." Books cook Bick Stargell, wiped his eyes as he said, "I'd have loved to 'Lay' him to rest myself."

Lay's widow, Linda, was credited with putting on a brave face in a performance that was said to top her work in 2002 when she went on television to dolefully defend her husband's honor. President Bush, perhaps relieved that he would be spared the humiliation of pardoning Kenny Boy upon leaving office, offered his condolences to the grieving spouse via Larry King Live, extolling his ex-buddy as "a good guy" and adding, "my hope is that his heart was right with the Lord." The fact that Lay died from cardiac arrest, suggests that the Lord had his ticker right where he wanted it.

A bereft Mrs. Lay might gain some small measure of cold cash comfort from the knowledge that her husband's demise would erase his entire case from the public record and that the government would be unable to collect on its $43.5 million forfeiture claim against him. When investigators in Aspen, CO first probed Lay's death at a vacation chalet they noted the new Bowflex Xtreme 2 Home Gym, the Cardio Dance Blast and Cardio Salsa DVDs and the Full Stroke Sex Machine for Men that Mrs. Lay had recently bought for her husband. They concluded, however, that he had perished due to natural causes when the distraught wife began sobbing uncontrollably into a $10,000 bill. She insisted with great sincerity that he'd looked "so pink and rosy the last time I saw him suspended from that sheer 2,000 ft. rock face that I had encouraged him to climb after the Chili Pepper and Brew Fest."

The realization that "the evil that men do lives after them, their sentence is oft interred with their bones" has inspired defense lawyers to reconsider their strategies in a number of high-profile cases. Lay's co-convictee, Jeffrey Skilling, who faces sentencing in October, is being encouraged by his legal team to "leverage the farm" in the interest of his family, his community and his creditors (them.) Though Skilling is said to resist the idea he has apparently been consulting DVDs of Hitchcock films like Vertigo and Family Plot in which characters fake their own deaths and practicing the heart-stopping Yoga technique of Our Man Flint.

Though attorneys have advised incarcerated clients like WorldCom's Bernard Ebbers and Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski to engineer their own "early release", such an eventuality would be a boon to society, not the wrongdoer's bank account. To take full advantage of the death benefit, the defendant must "kick the oxygen habit" prior to sentencing. Among those counseled to not turn up their nose at "turning up their toes" are Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Saddam Hussein and Naomi Campbell. Though not currently on trial, Attorney Mark Geragos has recommended Michael Jackson preventively "grab the family jewels", before another costly trial denies Bubbles the Chimp of his rightful pension.


NOTHING: ACCOMPLISHED
Sit and Duck Trumps Cut and Run

WASHINGTON, DC –– Seeking to capitalize on the elimination of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia's Abu al Zarqawi and the escape from indictment of Decider in Washington's Karl Rove, the White House launched a bold strategy for Republican victory in this November's elections. Noting that the best defense is a good offense, an extremely offensive Rove reminded the party faithful that "Democrats could have never summoned the will to kill Mr. Zarqawi" (nor the stupidity to create him, he failed to add.) Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans orchestrated votes on nonbinding motions that heaped praise on the US troops in Iraq while rejecting a timetable for their withdrawal (excluding those who "the Lord in his Wisdom chooses to withdraw.")

Giddy as Ann Coulter bitch-slapping a 9/11 widow, the President slipped away from his Camp David guests saying "I'm losing altitude –– I'm going to read", which attendees sensibly took to be his euphemism for Number Two on WC One. Instead, he donned a false moustache and M:I:3 windbreaker, and stealthily jetted to Baghdad to celebrate the completion of Prime Minister Nouri el-Maliki's Cabinet. El-Maliki, who was not informed in advance of the photo-op fly-by, expressed surprise at Bush's arrival and relief that he hadn't shown up during his election campaign. For his part, W stared deep into the PM's eyes and marveled, "I can see m'reflection, but it's upside-down."

As the public's disapproval for the war rose from "make it stop" to "I'm begging you, hand me that clicker", irrational exuberance rippled through the GOP leadership who resolved to contrast the Democrats' Cut and Run defeatism with a new triumphalist policy of Sit and Duck. "We're confident that voters will recognize again this November that ours is the only party that can win this war, because ours is the only party that believes half the President's bullshit," boasted an RNC insider. The Democrats, whose voted for it/voted against it, good cop/bad cop, my sister/my daughter schizophrenic position(s) on the war, though a natural psychological response to an insane policy, are likely to unnerve an electorate more comfortable with a simply stated death wish.

"Look, we made this bed and we've damn sure earned the right to sleep in it," trumpeted Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) who is running for reelection. "Some candidates don't want to be seen with President Bush. They say he's "radioactive." Well, I'm a big proponent of nuclear energy and I'd be happy to have him come out and go all Three-Mile-Island on my challengers."


"Americans hate tattletales, they hate subtitles and they really, really hate quitters," pointed out Mr. Rove. "Dead heroes, on the other hand, really grab them. So our job is to slather yellow down the backs of our opponents while insisting that the best way to honor our noble dead is to add to their numbers. Misery loves company."


BORDER FOLLIES

BROWNSVILLE, TX –– An upbeat Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff chose this dusty South Texas town to announce a new set of initiatives to stem the flow of illegal aliens into the US. "I feel like a little boy with my finger in a Mexican dyke," enthused Katrina's washout. "And when you folks have helped us staunch the flow, we'll be very happy to say "Heckuva job, Brownsie."


As the hurricane season arrives, a battered Bush Administration is scurrying to drier and what they hope will be higher ground on the subject of immigration. Chertoff explained, "We hope to shore up the breached levees of America's trust in our competence and to bail out the image of compassionate conservatism. And to towel off some wetbacks."


The Administration is suggesting several "innovative" approaches to solving the crisis including variations on the idea of building a wall along the border the US shares with Mexico. "Good fences make good neighbors, especially in towns like Matamoros where you're always looking to move some hot merchandise," reasoned the Homeland Secretary. "Look how successful the Chinese have been in keeping the barbarians out with their Great Wall –– although The Stones did get in to play a concert."

Plans for Operation Humpty Dumpty provided by the Army Corps of Engineers include one ambitious design of a wall running the entire 1951 miles of the border. A 20-mile stretch was built as a test, but mislabeled blueprints mandated a 15" rather than a 15' height, resulting in a cost-effective, but limited deterrent.

To defray the expense of massive barriers the government will suggest that corporations like Wal*Mart, Bertucci's Brick Oven Ristorante and Blockbuster build retail outlets directly into the structure. "And how about shared-use arrangements with local municipalities," wondered Chief Chertoff. "Convenient, medium-security prison space in Del Rio, outdoor murals in Yuma, handball courts in San Diego."

The concept of "virtual walls" constructed of cameras, sensors, vehicle and agent patrols to supplement physical barriers has been widely discussed. Inspired by Barney, the First Scotty, President Bush suggested that illegal aliens who are captured should, upon release, be fitted with electronic collars that would provide a powerful shock should they try to slip back north past an invisible electric fence. Meanwhile, the Border Patrol K-9 unit is to be provided with thousands of Border Collies that will be trained by ex-Abu Ghraib guards to herd migrants using sophisticated jalapeno scenting techniques.

As a last resort The Pentagon is working on a new multi-billion dollar Immigration Defense Initiative adapting some of the failed Star Wars anti-missile technology to repel incoming aliens. Dubbed "Men in Black" by its architects, the program seeks to locate its targets using advanced heat-sensing technology and then to incapacitate them with non-lethal acoustic cannons. Project Commander Gen. "Boom-boom" Bowman says, "We basically compress the chorus of La Bamba into an infrasound bombshell and lay it on 'em. Causes nausea, vomiting, internal-organ damage. Sort of a sonic burrito."


TERRORVISION'S NEWEST STAR
Crix: al-Zarqawi Wowie!

NEW YORK, NY –– Media critics here have been weighing in on the latest installment of Osama bin Laden's long-running series of video specials with many comparing it unfavorably to the new show starring his avowed follower and ratings rival, Abu al-Zarqawi. TV Guide's Chip Venable slammed the al Qaeda mastermind as "the Bob Hope of terrorism, past his prime, boring us with these endless, canned monologues and the same tired old lines. You half expect to see Ann-Margaret pop up in a burqa."


Some savvy insiders suggest the intensely private fanatic is simply out of touch with the younger bomber. "Gawd, did you see him in that camo jacket and wool cap with his stringy gray beard that looked like cucarachas were living in it," marvelled Style Network's Chacho Quovadis. "I guess he was going for a Santino Rice vibe, but it was more homeless Vietnam vet." W's Mincy Wienerbrot concurred, characterizing his performance as "moribund, positively pfft! –– the deadest thing since Dick Clark this past New Year's Eve."


Other longtime observers were less harsh, praising his mature dogmatism and "lived-in" zealotry. "Look, he's been doing this a long time and he knows what his audience wants to hear," suggested Ralph Waldo Firman of The New York Sun. "I was a little surprised, however, with the big O logo. I mean, I know he's recommending books now, but somebody on his staff has got to tell him there's only one Oprah."


Meanwhile, Iraq's al-Zarqawi released an altogether more polished production that included exciting action footage with missiles and automatic weapons clearly aimed at the youth market. Although he paid lip service to bin Laden, most experts saw this as an opportunity for Abu Z (as he is cleverly marketing himself) to say "I'm da madman!"


"Oh please, he was as sincere as Eve Harrington praising Margo Channing in All About Eve, right before stabbing her in the back," insisted Dingle Moorad of The Village Voice. "Abu Z is down with the insurgent, he has street cred, the IED ID that you can't fake in some cave in Waziristan. Of course I abhor his methods, but if you hate the sin, you gotta love this sinner."


Vibe's Akita Akbar praised "the black garb, the hip-hop cap with the Yankees logo which subtly disses Osama's greatest triumph, while playfully suggesting his own ambition to be a Bronx Bomber. If he can bring this same game next time and there happens to be a schedule conflict, 24 is ending up on my TiVo."


Editor's note: Mr. al-Zarqawi's program was suddenly cancelled on June 7. Repeats of al-Zawahiri & Co. have been scheduled to fill his time slot.


PENTAGONISM
Retired Top Brass: Cashier Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON, DC –– Not since their unanimous vote to boot longhair Bo Bice off American Idol have the nation's top retired military leaders been in such accord as they are over the removal of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. A growing chorus of condemnation spurred by patriotism, a sense of duty and acute embarrassment has arisen among the emboldened generals including several who served under the Secretary during the Iraq War.

Maj. Gen. Charles H. "Panic" Swannack, Jr. stated, "I do not believe Secretary Rumsfeld is the right person to fight that war based on his absolute failures in managing the war against Saddam in Iraq", while Gen. Anthony C. "Zany" Zinni concluded, "Rummy is fini." Maj. Gen. John "The" Batiste, Lieut. Gen. Gregory "Old Wuss" Newbold and Maj. Gen. Paul D. "Take-out" Eaton all concurred with that assessment. Dr. Strangelove's Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper added, "Rumsfeld makes me look rational."

Former Secretaries of State Zbigniew Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger openly questioned RumsfeldÕs competency in funny accents while the Vietnam Era's much-maligned Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara reportedly sent him a note that simply read, "Thanks." Ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell would not comment publicly on the controversy, but close associates describe the former 4-starrer as expressing the desire to "kick his punk-ass."

Pentagon observers suggest that this barrage of criticism is a counter-offensive by the military against an administration that is trying to lay the blame for the war's operational debacles at its doorstep much as it had tarred the Intelligence community with providing faulty evidence of WMD. Condoleezza Rice copped to "thousands of errors" in Iraq (presumably referring to the 2,300+ US dead and 17,500+ wounded) while characterizing them as "tactical", suggesting the military was at fault. "The Commanders in the field simply didn't weigh the Risk factors," commented a White House insider. "Our Game Plan based on The Star Wars Clone Wars Edition had us taking and holding Baghdad, Tikrit, Kirkuk and Tatooine in 48 moves."

Of course the administration defended their master tactician with Pres. Bush stopping short of a "Great job, Rummy!" while still lauding his performance and suggesting he be "kicked upstairs" and promoted from Secretary to Administrative Assistant of Defense. Ex-Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard B. "Oscar" Myers, stood up for his former boss, insisting, "this is conduct unbecoming –– the sort of questioning of authority that would never have happened in the Bush 41 or Reagan administrations. These soldiers could learn a thing or two from a man like Schultz." It was later revealed that he was referring not to former Secretary of State George Schultz, but rather to the loyal Sergeant of Hogan's Heroes.

For his part the unrepentant DOD Head maintained that his critics had "barely creased my Kevlar vest." Feisty as ever, he chided, "They want a mea culpa –– OK, I made mistakes. Strategic mistakes. I shoulda' court martialed these danged quislings after I tore the stripes off their sleeves. With my teeth." Despite his defiant stance The White House has reportedly contacted a top-flight marketing firm to help soften public perceptions of the peppery war hawk. Their plans are said to include the branding of the Rumsfeld persona and applying it to comforting consumer products. For adults who are suffering battle-coverage fatigue there will be bottles of 80 proof Gin Rummy and for tomorrow's little soldiers there will be sticky sweet Rummi Bears in camo colors.


RETROFIBBING
Congress, DOJ Seek to Decriminalize Bush Presidency

WASHINGTON, DC –– Reluctant to impeach President George W. Bush or to pillory Vice President Dick Cheney on the Mall where the public might be allowed to pelt him with rotten vegetables, Congressional namby-pambies have instead decided on a massive overhaul of the criminal justice system in order to legitimize the last five years of executive malfeasance.

"Our nation is at war," reasoned Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), "and if we were to punish our Commander-in-Chief for intentionally misleading the nation into combat, for criminally negligent mismanagement of the occupation and for illegally imprisoning and torturing the enemy in said conflict, well, then that enemy just might lose all respect for us. We must stand firm, look those legal statutes that would compel us to send the President packing dead in the eye, and rewrite 'em."

Surprisingly, there was little stomach for punishment across the aisle, with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) meekly calling for the limp slap of censure for the Chief Executive's wrist over his domestic-eavesdropping program. Last used to scold Andrew Jackson in 1834, the proposed measure failed to impress Bush who roundly stated, "I am against censureship. I mean it's OK to cut out scenes of nude gratuities, but let America judge if Sharon Stone can still bring it in Basic Instinct 2." In fact, Democrat Joe Lieberman is a leading proponent of the Right to Rewrite initiative as his party tries to appear tougher on terror. "We need domestic spying to identify, capture and disembowel potential terrorists," growled Sen. Lieberman, trying to sound more stud than Fudd. "I think we should fit all cell phones with miniaturized IED's and if we overhear some al Qaeda chatter, we oughta' blow their effin' heads off."

Thus in close collaboration with Attorney General Gonzalez the Senate looks to retrofit the crimes to the times. Initially, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) will sponsor the Can You Hear Me Now Act which would allow the NSA to monitor the electronic communications of any potential wrongdoer (read: you) without seeking a court order, although the Verizon Guy must be informed via text message within 60 days of the wiretap. In addition, the Justice Department's Operation Pecker Check, which seeks to out web surfers who visit pornographic sites, will be legitimized by a Phishing License compelling search engines like Google to provide the government with all user records. "That's a Freedom of Information Act we can get behind," averred the Attorney General.

The DOJ will suggest some time-saving strategies to streamline the ambitious undertaking. On the question of holding detainees indefinitely the plan is to have them redesignated as livestock. As for the sticky statutes prohibiting torture,"we'll just change the word torture to something that we're less likely to do, but which is still distasteful, like cursing in Urdu or belching the Pledge of Allegiance" suggested the AG. Still, the Senate has its work cut out for it due to the unprecedented scope of Executive misdeeds. "We've gotta make outing covert agents OK. We've gotta cover falsifying Intelligence to defraud Congress. We've gotta rubber stamp lying to a Grand Jury, election tampering, crimes against the Engish language, yadayada..." complained a frazzled legal aide.

"Look, we know it's a big job, but we're going to be responsible about it," insisted Sen. Frist. "We're not going to make the refund scam that got Claude Allen in trouble at Target legal retroactively. However, we might want to work in a loophole that would not penalize educators who use his methods in the future to 'acquire' classroom technology at no cost to the taxpayer. And we're not going to scrap election finance laws to help bail out Tom DeLay in the House, but I assure you we will codify a watertight Pure Dumb Luck Defense when the SEC comes snooping around a candidate's lucrative sale of stock in his family's health care company."


THE SOUR GRAPES OF WRATH
After Oscars Brokeback Author Broke Balls

LONDON, England –– In response to Crash coming from behind to cream Brokeback Mountain at this year's Academy Awards, the author Annie Proulx, on whose story the latter's screenplay was based, penned a bitter broadside pounding Oscar voters in The Guardian. Ms. Proulx wrote for all disgruntled losers when she observed host Jon Stewart's "smart-ass jokes" were "too witty, too quick, too eastern perhaps for the somewhat dim LA crowd" and that "there was a kind of provincial flavour to the proceedings reminiscent of a small-town talent-show night. Clapping wildly for bad stuff enhances this." One could have imagined her musings etched in a thought balloon over grumpy Paul Giamatti's head as he fell to George Clooney ("From the first there was an atmosphere of insufferable self-importance emanating from "the show"") or floating over Steven Spielberg's as he lost with a sickly grin ("We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture.")

Her opinion that "(Crash) was a safe pick of "controversial film" for the heffalumps" was probably unfair to the industry insiders who thought they were actually voting for David Cronenberg's 1996 film of the same name, in which James Spader controversially humped a gaping wound in Rosanna Arquette's leg. Her words of praise for the "funny, lively" fest that had awarded Brokeback top prize a day earlier –– "If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices" –– suggest that a debt of gratitude had clouded her perceptions of a mock-hip, faux-caj vanity fair where celebs kiss more ass than her sheepherders ever did.

Yet the 70-year-old author's screw-you conclusion: "For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays," could not fail to inspire the legions of also-rans and never-weres that the annual awards' marathon leaves strewn behind along the Boulevard of Brokeback Dreams. Borrowing Ms. Proulx's wicked wordplay ("And rumour has it that Lions Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash –– excuse me –– Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline.") animator Hayao Miyazaki (Howl's Moving Castle) lashed out at his competition in the Tokyo Times by referring to "Wallace & Vomit." In an al-Jazeera interview Paradise Now's Director Hany Abu-Assad dubbed Best Foreign Film victor Tsotsi, "Nutsy" and Lead Actor runner-up Joaquin Phoenix referred to his category's winner as "Philip Suckmore Hoffman in Crapote" on Entertainment Tonight. Surprisingly, Hoffman played sore winner, responding to the gibe by labeling the Walk the Line star, "Wackin' Penis."

Bonhomie, esprit de corps and several other French phrases were brutally torn from the nominees playbook as former Oscar slights came back to bite Hollywood in its AMPAS. The family of Orson Welles issued a statement on behalf of the director of 1941's unrewarded Citizen Kane, contending, "he could shit pictures bigger than How Green Was My Valley." Patrick Wayne, son of the Duke called 1952's The Greatest Show on Earth "run of DeMille" and claimed his father, who starred in contender The Quiet Man, could "kick Chuck Heston's skinny ass right out of his tights." Omar Sharif of 1965's Doctor Zhivago remembers that year's Best Picture as "The Sound of Mucus…a great gob of spit…slimy sputum coughed up by a tubercular whore."

Stanley Kubrick's widow noted in Film Comment, "It would have been bad enough if 2001 had just lost to Oliver! In 1968, but it wasn't even nominated, thus "losing" to Rachel, friggin' Rachel and Funny Girl, too!" When asked by Swedish journalists to assess the defeat of Cries and Whispers by The Sting in 1973's race, master filmmaker Ingmar Bergman simply broke wind loudly. Francis Ford Coppola observed to The San Francisco Chronicle, "Sure, Marty Scorsese and Polanski lost out to Chicago in 2002, but imagine the humiliation of having a Godfather movie beaten out by Dances With Wolves back in '90! That's a career-killer. Look at me, I'm in Romania trying to make an art film. Jesus. Wanna nice glass of merlot?"


POWER PUFF

WASHINGTON, DC –– Vice President Dick Cheney has issued a proclamation that vastly expands the powers of his office and, coincidentally, that of President Bush. Spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride stopped short of characterizing it as a "divine edict" ("the VP has far too much respect for the Big Guy to put it that way"), but felt comfortable in referring to "the imposition of royal fiat." Upon hearing of the news, President Bush wondered aloud if that "was the kind of car Silvio Berlusconi drives." He mused, "I had school buddies with Fiats back in the day and we always joked that the name stood for Fix It Again, Tony."

Though some Democrats privately questioned the timing of the dictate in the light of Cheney's Jeffrey Dahmer-like approval ratings, few felt comfortable in rising up from the weeds to face Number Two with a bullet. The manner in which the scroll with its gold leaf and ornate calligraphy was unfurled on the steps of the Capitol by a purple velvet-clad intern as the Marine Corps Band trumpeted We Will Rock You did rub some of the Veep's critics the wrong way. However, The Washington Times applauded "a return to pageantry" in a front page story entitled Hail, Cheney!

The new Presidential powers enumerated in the document include the line-item veto, the imposition of the Bagram Convention in lieu of the Geneva model for all enemy combatant detainees (to be legally redesignated evil-doers) and the authority to name up to six additional Supreme Court Justices immediately without Congressional approval. Furthermore, the Commander-in-Chief gets to personally review the private records of any US citizen who possesses a passport and to ban abortion, stem cell research, the teaching of Evolution, hip hop, Newton's Second Law ("the formula F=ma brings back bad memories of Katrina"), transvestism, jello shots, nosy-parkers, Bono, panda bears ("they're disappearing anyway…it's merciful") and broccoli ("for m'Dad.")

He is to be issued a monogrammed Get Out Of Jail Free card, lifelong Secret Service protection for his pets, an annual Oscars goodie bag, a truly universal remote and a mulligan on any failed invasion. He will also have those prescient words he uttered to Bob Woodward carved into the steps of the White House, "I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

Seeking to spend what political capital he has left before being fingered (this time in the legal sense) by fallen aid Scooter Libby, the Vice President reserved fewer though farther-reaching powers for himself. The scroll states: "He shall fix all energy prices throughout the US and its territories. He shall retain the sole right to declare war. He shall suspend any law he believes to give comfort to the enemy including those of free assembly, free speech and gravity. He shall transform base metals into gold. He shall be addressed as Deadeye, Milord. His gaze shall not be met should you touch the sleeve of his flak jacket. He shall receive your heartfelt apology if he shoots you or has you shot. And that means you, soldier. And finally, he claims le droit du seigneur, the feudal lord's fabled right to screw your wife on your wedding night. And you. But only in the wallet."


AND IRAN. IRAN SO FAR AWAY.

TEHRAN, Iran –– Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who changed his name from Muhammad Ali just to bedevil US news anchors and proofreaders) has greatly expanded his government's official "Shi'ite List" of prohibited Western pop culture. In the interests of protecting his nation's young people from immoral influences while preserving Iran's quaint 15th-century cultural climate, the Sharif Executive and his Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council (which was, ironically, the one-time moniker of a Sun Ra band in the 70's) had already issued a ban on Western music being played on radio and TV. Barring George Michael's Careless Whisper, the Eagles' Hotel California and the stylings of Kenny G was initially applauded in some quarters as a triumph of taste though it soon became clear that the leader's ear was as tin as his horn.

President Ahmadinejad (pronounced ah'm-a-doin'-jihad) ranted, "We reject totally the Great Satan's siren call, and shall soundproof our young people's turbans and burqas if need be! We spit lustily upon the entire history of Western music from Bach to Bacharach and Beck again and still have saliva enough to anoint the Zionist record executives who peddle such babel!"

The blanket edict does cite certain artists for special censure including Sunni and Cher, Bush, The Jazz Crusaders, Shah Na Na and David Bowie who is accused of actually marrying an imam. Surprisingly, Yusuf Islam nee Cat Stevens does not avoid the axe, but a provision is included to allow for an annual Independence Day performance of A Flock of Seagulls' I Ran to be performed by the Islam Tabernacle Choir (which is banned from rehearsing the other 364 days a year.)

The President, who was allegedly mistaken for a participant in the 1979 siege of the US Embassy in Teheran by several hostages who suffered through that ordeal (and mistaken for Jamie Farr as The Sheik in the 1984 Cannonball Run ll by several moviegoers who suffered through that nightmare), has ramped up the culture wars to recapture some of the magic of those heady early days of the Revolution. "Ayatollah Khomeini was like a rock star to us, if you will forgive the expression, inspiring us with his solemnity, his grimness, his utter lack of charisma!", vociferated Ahmadinejad in a reflective mood. "If only I could inspire such disgust for women, Jews, intellectuals…!", his voice trailed off in a plaintive bellow.

Not content to merely silence the West's Pied Pipers and to ban Hollywood's movies and TV shows, the Revolutionary Council is planning on establishing its own media production center outside of Qom, to be known as Mullahwood. Taping is set to begin immediately on inspirational television shows such as Fatwa Knows Best, Kate and Allah and Islamic Band Stand in which contestants caught singing have their tongues cut out. Mullahwood's new moguls also promise big-screen offerings set to include High Infidelity, Heaven Can't Wait, Some Like it Haaj and Dial M for Martyr. A studio spokesman also hints at a top-secret project with the potential to be a worldwide blockbuster. Ahmadinejad admits he has read the script and terms the concept, "simply atomic! Trust me, Great Satan, we will blow you away!"


ALLAH OOPS!

COPENHAGEN, Denmark –– Cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed first published here in the daily Jyllands-Posten have set into motion a Rube Goldbergesque madcap media-mashing machine throughout the Muslim world. Danish products have been boycotted in Middle Eastern countries –– leaving coffee shops particularly hard hit –– and Denmark's flag has been burned in Palestinian refugee camps –– and not just because they'd used up all of the Israeli ones. Some thought the demonstrations were just make-work projects instituted by the new Hamas politicos who had expressed concern that large numbers of the professional unruly mob workface were underemployed, but the fact that Indonesia's blue-collar protest laborers staged similar actions suggests that the delusional hysteria was real.

Underlying the outrage is the prohibition in Sharia law against any visual depiction of the Prophet. Inasmuch as they'd never seen his picture certain observers wondered aloud how the true believers could possibly have recognized Mohammed as the figure in the cartoons. There were few criticisms of the actual likeness although it was generally agreed the artists made him look fat.

In support of the increasingly quaint notion of Freedom of the Press other European newspapers including Die Welt in Germany, France Soir and De Standaard of Belgium boldly reproduced some of the drawings sparking further protests, the torching of embassies, the firing of editors and the pulling of ads for cell phone detonators and airliner takeoff lessons. Newspapers in England and the US, however, answered the "I am Spartacus" challenge with an "I am Candy-ass" response.

The State Department, a noted champion of artistic expression and free speech –– for those living in North Korea and Iran –– sought to 'mullahfy' the rabble by agreeing with the zealots that the cartoons were offensive to Muslims and the corporations that want to sell second-rate consumer products to them. A spokesman said, "Frankly, we believe the barring of caricature should be extended to protect not merely religious, but political sensitivities. How do you think the President feels when he's been cruelly lampooned? We're not suggesting the cartoonists be jailed, but we could chop off their drawing hands. Humanely."

This satirical website is made of sterner stuff and we reproduce here the most shocking example, which shows He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Portrayed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb. We do not advocate the burning of any flags although we were thinking of suing for plagiarism on behalf of dozens of political cartoonists who have flogged this same tired idea since 1979 or so. Meanwhile, to hone one's cultural sensitivities we suggest you enjoy the sort of sanctioned cartoons to be found on editorial pages throughout the Muslim world with their charming depictions of banana-nosed, money-grubbing Zionists and slavering, blood-sucking Americans.

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