<intercom> "He's heading right in Mister President. In fact, I can hear him running down the hall."

"Woo woo woo woo woo woo." <Slam>. "Sorry, Mister President. I got here as quick as I could. I'll bet you're hungry, and want to get some lunch. Is that what..."

"Uh uh. Sit down and have a Doctor Pepper. I've got something I need to ask you. Why'd you do it, Karl? I've been hoping this thing would just disappear so I wouldn't have to deal with it. Seems like a crazy ass thing to do, leaking that sort of secret information to reporters."

"Oh, the uh, Plame thing? Listen, it's not as big of a deal as the liberals are trying to make it sound. What, I haven't worked with you since your first term in Texas? This sort of thing goes on all the time, and you never hear a thing about it until somebody gets their panties in a wad. Besides, this Wilson guy was attacking the presidency. What? I'm supposed to sit idly by while someone aids and abets the terrorists?"

"But I never told you to do anything like that."

"I know, George. It was the president's idea."

"Oooh, that Cheney. Always getting me in trouble. Sometime I think he gets a kick out of it.

Sometimes he does, Sir."


"It's true. Anyway, this time it's me that'll be catching the flack. No biggie. The worst that can happen is I leave, and take a cushy job at Halliburton. If they'll have me, heh heh."

"I'm just worried that this is going to hurt my credibility, you know, being so loyal to you."

"Oh, so it's loyal George here, is it? I heard your little statement today. "I will not prejudge the investigation based on media reports. Neener neener neener." Thanks a lot, buddy. Big woof."

"But I have to say something, Karl. My credibility is at stake."

"Credibility? That and three bucks will get you a cup of coffee. Your loyalty is what people really like about you. That, and you're steadfastness. I hear that from people all the time - "President Bush - what a steadfast piece of work that man is. I like the way he stays the course and never turns his back on friends."

"Get out of here, Karl. You're manipulating me. All of you guys are. You and Dick and Rummy."

"You forgot about Condi and Karen."

"Oh man, the girls too?"

"Just jerking your chain about Karen, big guy. Everybody knows that you're the man in charge. We're just your little soldiers, trying to help the general over those irritating bumps in the road."

<Sigh> "Even Condi. Why did we go to Iraq, again? I'm starting to think maybe this whole affair was a setup."

"Oh no sir, not at all. You're a freedom fighter, George, just like the very first George, as in Washington, as in the father of our country, fighting for liberty. And as in the last George, father of you, fighting for all that's holy every time he stepped back into his jet, putting it all on the line for freedom during the storied days of World War II.  And then there is you. The Big George. No one could foresee the travails that would come your way, and yet, if you don't mind me saying so, you have prevailed and prospered. You have triumphed and changed the course of this great country, poised it perfectly for an even greater future. Don't think bad things and stay the course, that's all I'm saying here."

"Oh, uh yeah... I guess..."

"You know I'm right. Now how about some ribs?"


2005, Mark Hoback