"Whoo, boy, some show we've got here today, isn't it. Chris Kattan, how about that, funny, funny guy. And Justin Timberlake is going to teach me a couple new dance steps. Yeah! Yeah! Maybe I'll get him to take a look at my toaster while he's here. But first I've got a big surprise. Come on guys, prepare to give it up for a man who needs no introduction, the Secretary of Defense, Mister Donald Rumsfeld."

And with those words, the country's wildest, wackiest Secretary of Defense ever hit the stage, fingers forward, and hips swiveling, and commenced doing the Antler Dance with the queen of mid to late afternoon comedy/variety/talk shows. Afterwards, he talked about a wide selection of issues, from the fate of Guantanamo Bay to the opening of the new Batman movie, which he described as "dark and edgy, but a little long for an old man like me." Degeneres assured him that he was not old, not a bit.

Asked by Degeneres whether "these people, the terrorists, get tortured because of the Gitmo prison, or just because they're bad, and would likely get tortured anywhere they happened to be incarcerated," Rumsfeld broke into a broad smile and told the story of his mother, who walked five miles a day, in spite of the being 85 years old. "Now she's 97 and we don't know where the hell she is."

"No really," replied Degeneres. "Give me a straight answer."

"Good one, Helen. Straight answer, heh, heh. Okay, try this one on for size.  The real problem is not Guantanamo Bay. The problem is that, to a large extent, we are in unexplored territory with this unconventional and complex struggle against extremism. Traditional doctrines covering criminals and military prisoners do not apply well enough. Does that satisfy you, young lady?"

"No, not really. I don't think you said anything there. But let's move on to Iraq. I don't know about you, but it seems to me that it's no safer now than before the US invaded."

"First off, little missy, we never invaded, we liberated. And secondly, uh, no. Statistically speaking, it's no safer. Maybe a bit less safe. But statistics lie, don't they? I'm sure you're sophisticated enough to know that, aren't you? Things have been getting better as we've gone along. For example, how safe do you think it would have been under the former regime to go to the middle of Akbahr Square and shout 'Saddam is a scumbag'. Not very safe, I assure you. Now, Helen, I've got a remarkable piece of video to show you. Can you roll it, please?"

<A large group is shopping at the market at Akbahr Square. Suddenly, a veiled figure breaks from the crowd, goes to the middle of the square, and shouts. "Saddam is a scumbag! Ptui! Ptui!" No one makes a move to kill her.>

"Whoa, Secretary Rumsfeld! That was a woman, wasn't it? That's remarkable! I guess things really have changed for the better."

"They sure have, Helen..."

"It's Ellen. E-L-L-E-N."

"Whatever. I think the im..."

"It's just that I feel emboldened after watching that video."

"I always find a positive..."

"You know. Speak truth to power."

"Mmm. Did I happen to see Michael Caine back in the green room?"

"You sure did. He's coming in to talk about 'Batman Begins'. He plays Batman's butler."

"Alfred Pennyworth. He does a fantastic job. I just saw a screening last night at the White House. Although, I would've brought a flask if I had known how long it was going to be."

"Ooh, now there's an interesting topic. Was there anybody else famous at the White House screening?"

"Well, the president and first lady, obviously, but there are a number of closet Batman aficionados in the administration. Condi Rice is a big fan, and then there's....


2005, Mark Hoback