Bush: So in closing just let me say that India and the United States share a commitment to freedom and a belief that democracy provides the best path to a more hopeful future for all people. Now give me five, Manmohan, so the photo guys can get their picture.

Manmohan Singh: I have your five right here, Mister President. Four fingers of friendship and the thumb of opportunity.

Bush: Hey! Watch it Manmohan, you're hurting my hand.

Singh: Ah, very sorry. I do have a most powerful grip. My father used to say that when Shiva was giving out handshakes, two times did I find myself in the line.

Bush: Yeah, yeah, leggo my hand. I like your hat by the way. If I was forced to wear a hat like yours, that's the color I would pick. It's called Bush blue in this country.

Singh: A most remarkable blue. I was stricken almost immediately by how well I matched your tie..

Bush: That's understandable. Now would you please let go of my hand before I have to slug you? And wipe that silly grin off your face while you're at it. We've got to take a couple questions from the press now. Tony?

Tony: This question is for Prime Minister Singh. Why do your people continue to call themselves Indians? Don't they know we have Indians over here in America? I mean, for the layperson it can get very confusing.

Singh: We have been called Indians for many centuries, far before the first white settlers arrived in America and discovered the indigenous people. Now, on a more relevant topic, India is most desirous of a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. We have a compelling case that we...

Bush: Question for me over here. Murray?

Murray: Yes sir. There is a report in today's Washington Post that your administration developed a plan to shape the outcome of this years Iraqi elections. Care to comment?

Bush: Thanks for the question. Yes we did. But it's important to note that we did not carry that plan out. It was a contingency, in case there was somebody we liked. But, I mean, you look at the field, there really wasn't anybody we felt like sticking our necks out for. Question for Manmohan. Young lady from the AP.

AP Lady: About the clothes you're wearing - do you think that Nehru jackets are poised to make a comeback?

Singh: The Nehru jacket has been a popular item of apparel in India for many centuries, so there can be no comeback, except, perhaps in your country. On the other hand, the larger issues of U.N. reforms...

Bush: You got one for me, Stretch?

Stretch: Yes sir. How soon do you plan on firing Karl Rove?

Bush: Heh, heh, you trying to pull one over on me, Stretch? Trying to get me to talk about an ongoing investigation?

Stretch: Yes sir, I guess I was.

Bush: I'm too quick for you. One more for Prime Minister Singh and we're going to wrap this up. Jimbo?

Jimbo: Do you people really worship cows?

Singh: What do you mean 'you people'? What an impertinent question! India is a land of great cultural diversity and breadth. Certainly we all enjoy the cow, although many of us have different approaches as to how we do so. Now, the Security Council...

Bush: Gotta lighten up, Manmohan. That's just our impertinent American press corps in action. Now give me another handshake for the camera.

Singh: Ouch! You are retaliating most painfully. I did not have the opportunity to to obtain a good grip.

Bush: Yeah, how do ya like that, Crusher?

Singh: Owww...


2005, Mark Hoback