In a surprising bit of image softening, the entire national media, from liberal newspapers to conservative gabfests, all gladly gave up prime real estate for a look at the sunny side of the butcher of Baghdad. There were political evaluations, which, although not surprising, can make good red meat talking points for just about everyone.

"The Bush father, son, no good," Hussein opined. Clinton was just "okay" (only half an appeaser), but the R man was his main guy.  "Reagan and me, good." Those were the fine old days, when the US was still selling him weapons of mass planes and helicopters. But forget about that. What a hungry nation wants to know is what Saddam goes for when he gets a dictator-sized case of the munchies.

For a time his favorite snack was Cheetos, and when that ran out, Saddam would ''get grumpy,'' the story said. One day, guards substituted Doritos corn chips, and Saddam forgot about Cheetos. ''He'd eat a family size bag of Doritos in 10 minutes,'' Dawson said.

Is this good new for Frito-Lay? To answer this question, FGAQ talked to company spokesman Chester Cheeto, whom we reached at his Exploration Station home.

"Oh, absolutely good news. Great news. We can spin this story three ways to Friday. Picture this. We see Saddam in the 'interrogation room'. Nothing too violent, this is a cartoon for Christ's sake. The purpose here is to entertain, and at the same time sell a product. So, I don't know, we hit him with those rubber mallets that go 'BOING', maybe give him a hotfoot. And he just shouts out 'I will tell you nothing!' We'll get Gilbert Gottfried for the voice. Cut to Saddam back in his cell, with me standing guard, digging into a bag of Cheetos as usual. Saddam hears the crunching, looks out the bars, and flashes me his biggest smile. "I could maybe talk a little..." Cut tight to the product and voice over 'think you're tough enough to resist?' It's a smash, baby."


2005, Mark Hoback