BIRDBRAIN IN THE BUSH
Scene: A room in a US Army base in Baghdad, Iraq. Cheap modular chairs are arranged in rows. About a dozen SOLDIERS in uniform are sitting on them. They include one black, JACKSON, one Latino, HERNANDEZ, one Japanese American, SATO, an Indian, KUMAR, and even one middle-aged Iraqi in a blue uniform. A WOMAN who looks like an executive from a TV network walks among them with a microphone.
At one side of the room are several TV cameras and a large plasma TV set, the screen of which is currently blank. At a table behind the cameras sits an officer, COLONEL MITCHELL, and a couple of G-MEN in black suits.
As the curtain lifts, the TV WOMAN is speaking.
TV WOMAN: …now, I’ll be giving you the microphone, Harris. What do you do?
HARRIS: I give a big grin.
MITCHELL (sotto voce, to G-MEN): He’s got an excellent set of teeth.
WOMAN: Right. And after you’ve said your piece, you…?
HARRIS: I give it to Jackson?
WOMAN: Only if he asks about the heat. If he asks about the war on terror, you pass it to…Mason, is that right?
MANSON: Manson. [Flexes his heavily tattooed biceps] And then I do this?
G-MAN (to MITCHELL): Do you really think this is going to go all right?
MITCHELL: Don’t worry, they’ve been very carefully selected.
WOMAN (to MANSON): Just casually. Don’t make a production out of it. [To HARRIS] But if he asks about the food, you pass it to Casco, who praises it. Right?
CASCO [The fattest man present]: If you say so…
WOMAN: I do. All right, everyone, here he comes!
[All the SOLDIERS spring to attention in sitting position, facing the screen, except for the IRAQI, who looks around, bewildered. The TV screen flickers to life. BUSH’S face appears.]
WOMAN [brightly]: Well, boys, look who’s here! Welcome, Mr. President!
BUSH: I just dropped in for a warm meal.
VOICE [heard offscreen, audible only to BUSH and the audience]: No, you fool, that was last time.
BUSH [looking petulant]: It got them cheering last time, didn’t it?
VOICE: You’re not even in the country right now.
BUSH: Yeah, what I meant was, mission accomplished, right?
VOICE: No, that was the other time, on the carrier. You forgot your flight suit.
BUSH: I had other things to think about, like my popularity ratings. This mission had better be accomplished, and fast. I need some victories to throw in the goddamn liberals’ faces. [To SOLDIERS] Well, boys, what shall we talk about?
WOMAN: Whatever you like, Mr. President. We’re at your service.
BUSH (eagerly): Really? Anyone here knows to teach me how to ride a Segway?
VOICE (wearily): Not that type of service.
BUSH: Oh. OK. How’s the war on terror going?
WOMAN [giving microphone to MANSON]: Here’s a brave soldier you can ask yourself, Mr. President. Corporal Manson.
BUSH: Hey, soldier!
BUSH: Y’all know why y’all are fighting terrorists, don’t you? Why we’re in Eye-rack?
MANSON: Because they hate our freedoms, sir! Because we’re spreading democracy, sir!
BUSH: And avenging nine-eleven. And God’s words to me. Remember that.
MANSON; Avenging nine-eleven, sir! God’s words, sir!
BUSH: D’ya think y’all are making worthwhile sacrifices in Eye-rack? Y’all know them liberals want y’all out.
MANSON: Yes, sir! We’re making progress, sir! And we’ll stay here until the job is done, sir! Otherwise the blood we shed will be shed in vain, sir!
MITCHELL (sotto voce): Well coached.
BUSH: Good, tell me about the last bunch of terrorists y’all killed.
MANSON: Yesterday, sir! I was at a checkpoint when this here car came up, sir! And I thought it was lookin’ kinda funny, you see, being old and rusty and all, not like a good honest American car, so I opened fire, sir! And afterwards we found only an old man and a pregnant woman in the car, and I thought I’d made a screw-up, but, ya see, it was all right, they musta been terrorists, because the officers…
WOMAN [snatching microphone, with bright smile]: Thank you, Corporal Manson. Now what would you like to ask, Mr. President?
BUSH: Can y’all tell me what signs of progress y’all can see in Eye-rack?
WOMAN: Private First Class Sato.
SATO: Yes, well, this country was in terrible shape when we came in, Mr. President. I mean, these people had nothing, you could walk ten blocks, and not spot a McDonald’s. Now, of course, we can’t actually walk ten blocks any more, but we got one right here on the base.
BUSH: That’s great! Now that’s a blow for freedom. Isn’t that right?
SATO: Yes, sir. Now, my grandma, she was in a camp for the Nisei in the war. But then she didn’t know that Coke is the American way, sir! What’s good for Halliburton is good for the nation!
BUSH: Fine, fine. How’s the heat?
SATO [confused, looks around helplessly]: Er…
WOMAN [taking microphone]: Lance Corporal Jackson would like to answer that question.
BUSH [eyeing JACKSON distrustfully]: Well, boy, I mean, soldier? Hot enough for you?
JACKSON: It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.
BUSH: Where are y’all from, anyways?
JACKSON: New Orleans.
BUSH: You don’t say? And what do y’all think of them looters, huh? Robbing good hard working folk’s stores?
JACKSON: They should’ve been shot, sir! They’re a disgrace to the nation and to the African-American community, sir!
MITCHELL [sotto voce]: We pick ‘em well for these things. Even the nignogs. Don’t worry.
BUSH: And y’all got any complaints about the armour y’all got?
JACKSON: Sir –
WOMAN: Sergeant Harris here is all eager to answer that.
HARRIS [with big grin]: Yes, sir! We have to go to war with the army we have, not the one we wish we had, sir!
BUSH: And it’s better to fight ‘em in Eye-rack, not at home, right?
HARRIS [looking troubled]: Really, sir? You think these insurgents might go attack Broken Ridge, Tennessee, otherwise?
WOMAN [hurriedly]: Mr. President, Hernandez here is ready to answer that.
BUSH: So long as we fight the terrorists in Eye-rack we aren’t fighting ‘em in the US, hey?
HERNANDEZ: Si, Senor El Presidente. We fight here an’ terrorist don’t go kill people in America. Maybe not in Puerto Rico either.
BUSH: Y’all know the liberal abortionist groups are calling for you to leave?
HERNANDEZ: Si, Senor, el padre he say abortion, eet ees…muy bad. He say abortion an’ condom work of el Devil. Gay, too.
BUSH: Good, I’m glad we think alike on that. I see we have all sorts of people here. Who’s that over there in the corner?
WOMAN: That’s our Corporal Kumar, Mr. President. From India.
BUSH: Huh, no kidding, India, eh? Glad t’see y’all in the fight for freedom. Didn’t know we had Indians in this army. Thought they didn’t want to send troops to Eye-rack.
KUMAR: Well, I joined for the citizenship. Otherwise I’d have to wait years.
WOMAN (prompting): And to take part in the war on terror.
KUMAR (hastily): Yes, that too. Every day I tell myself that I’m helping freedom by fighting here. And to those who say I’m a stooge for the Americans, I say, better be a stooge for the Americans than a free man in Bombay. America is the leader of the world, I tell them. And its President is the greatest man in the world.
BUSH: And aren’t y’all proud that y’all liberated the Eye-rackis from that Saddam?
[An explosion is faintly heard in the distance.]
WOMAN: As to that, sir, we have with us an actual Iraqi soldier who’s going to tell us how happy he is to be a part of the war on terror. [Shoves microphone in Iraqi’s face.]
IRAQI: I not spik English.
WOMAN: That’s all right, I’ll translate. What do you want to know, Mr. President?
BUSH: Ask the rag…I mean brave Iraqi ally if he’s happy about our being in Eye-rack.
WOMAN: (translates into Arabic)
IRAQI (in Arabic): Happy? I fought the Iranians for years to stop them from taking us over, and then you ask me if I’m happy to see Americans here, lording it over us, and acting as though they want to stay forever?
WOMAN: He says he thinks we should stay here for ever to protect his country from the Iranians.
BUSH: Damned right! Now isn’t that just what them liberals should hear. They’d sing a different tune then! What does he think of the new democracy?
IRAQI: What is this democracy where the Kurds and Shias get everything, the Sunnis nothing, and the government can’t get out of bed in the morning without Halliburton’s permission?
WOMAN: He thinks it’s very nice the Kurds and Shias are getting their rights and living as equals with the Sunnis, and the government’s being guided by Halliburton in the right direction. He…
[A louder explosion rattles the windows.]
BUSH: What was that?
WOMAN: Oh, just thunder. It’s the rainy season here.
BUSH: Ask him if he’s happy we liberated him from tyranny.
IRAQI (angrily): My little son was kidnapped for ransom, and I had to pay my life’s savings to get him back. My daughter wanted to be a teacher in college, but she can’t go out now without a veil without being threatened by local goons. We have no water or electricity at home, I had to take up this job to survive, and you call this liberation from tyranny? Even that butcher Saddam would have put things right in a week!
G-MAN (to MITCHELL): Get that raghead to Abu Ghraib as soon as this is over.
MITCHELL (to G-MAN): Consider it done.
WOMAN (to BUSH): Certainly he is, Mr. President. He says his daughter’s going to become a teacher, his son’s been liberated from captivity, he’s going to have water and electricity restored in his house, and Saddam was a butcher who would have killed everyone in a week. He says he joined the new Iraqi army to serve and protect the democracy which wouldn’t survive otherwise.
BUSH: And are his fellow soldiers ready to take up their combat responsibilities?
IRAQI: Ready to cut my throat if I look away for a second. And we’re always in the first line when we attack a liberated city. Without even proper armour and helmets!
WOMAN: Yes, they’re razor-sharp and they’re eager to fight their way into the terrorist-controlled areas. They don’t even need armour and helmets.
BUSH: Now isn’t that the best goddamn shootin’ thing I’ve heard all day. Even the liberals can’t say that ain’t a good thing I’ve done in Eye-rack. God’s gonna be mighty pleased with me, I can tell ya. Are y’all ready an’ eager to go fight the good fight in Eye-ran after this, boys? And after that we’re gonna take out that there See-rear guy, what’s his name…
WOMAN: You mean Bashar Assad of Syria, Mr. President.
BUSH: Yeah, that Ass-it. We’re gonna see his rear! Y’all good an’ ready to go spread freedom and democracy there, huh? Are y’all ready to stay in them foreign lands a few more years to fight for democracy, boys?
SOLDIERS (together, without enthusiasm): Yes, sir!
BUSH: That’s right! Wish them bleedin’ heart terrorist lovin’ liberals could’ve seen all this. I’m sure God’s mighty pleased with ya all, boys.
[Terrific explosion, roof falls in. Darkness, silence, dust clouds rise]
[Taliban regulation (as quoted in Taliban: the Story of the Afghan Warlords, by Ahmed Rashid): The criminals (i.e. those men who are clean shaven or with short beards, which means shorter than the length of a fist) will be taken and imprisoned until their beard gets bushy.]
SCENE: The Oval Office. As the curtain lifts, George W BUSH is seen throwing darts at a board hanging on the wall bearing a photograph of Venezuelan President Hugo CHAVEZ. On the desk before him, which but for a telephone or two is otherwise empty, is a bottle half full of a suggestively amber liquid and an empty glass.
BUSH, seeing CHENEY, hurriedly grabs the bottle and shoves it under the desk. There comes a faint tinkle of breaking glass.
BUSH: Hell! I mean, heck!
CHENEY: Drinking again, Junior?
BUSH: No, damn it, I’m fighting for freedom. (Throws a dart, which misses the board altogether and falls to the floor)
CHENEY: By throwing darts at a photo of Chavez? Besides, I can see the glass, there.
BUSH (irritably): That’s my medicine. My doctor tells me I need that medicine to keep me fighting fit. And I’m a war president so I have to be fit to fight the war. Besides, that Shave-izz guy is Al Qaeda, ain’t he?
CHENEY: No, he’s not.
BUSH: Come on, even your pet reporters are now tellin’ me Al Qaeda guys no longer keep beards. You seen that Shave-izz guy. Does he have a beard? No. What more proof do you need?
CHENEY: But neither you nor I have beards.
BUSH: That’s different, ya know, God appointed me President of these here United States. He didn’t tell me, "George, y’all go and grow a beard." The day he says that, I’ll grow one. Now, that Shave-izz – he’s an evildoer at least, ain’t he?
CHENEY: Yeah, he is that. Givin’ cut price gas to them Katerina jigaboos and white trash down New Orleans way last winter. Bechtel and Exxon and the rest are still howlin’ at the loss of profits they took.
BUSH: All right, we’ll take him out, just as soon the job’s over out in Eye-rack.
CHENEY: What job are we talkin’ about? The oil? You oughta tell me that at least, Junior. You know the oil’s got to begin flowing. What job?
BUSH: My job, of course. Once I leave this here office, the way I got it figgered, God’s gonna go with me. After that what happens in Eye-rack or Af-gun-iz-tun isn’t my business, or his.
CHENEY (looking suspiciously at the little pool of fluid leaking out from under the desk): Ya know things aren’t lookin’ too good right now, there or here.
BUSH: You tellin’ me! I thought them Eye-rackis were gonna greet our men with flowers and name a square in my honour for liberatin’ them, but do they do that? No sirree, they’re too damned ungrateful. They’d rather bite the hand that feeds them, those Shears and Soonies and all. I dunno why God told me to go liberate them. You’da thought he’d have more sense. Shoulda thought to teach ‘em gratitude first. We liberated them from Saddam and they still want electricity and jobs and water and fuel. I ask ya!
CHENEY: Well, what about people here in the States? Why can’t we get them on our side any more? They used to lap up whatever we said. Like you claiming Saddam was behind 9/11 and was pals with Al Qaeda.
BUSH: Yeah, I been thinkin’ about that too. These here American people don’t know how lucky they are to have God to lead them through these difficult times. They just ain’t fit to have God’s anointed administration in power, that’s what I’m thinkin’. Just ya lookit that schoolgirl now, the one that was makin’ those threats to kill me. Maybe it’s time one of her class got guns outta his dad’s cabinet and went on a rampage, like that there Amish shootin’. We got home grown freedom hating terrorists now. Gotta fight ‘em as well. That’s why I abolished hab-y-us corpuss.
CHENEY: Not to talk of that Benedict Arnold of a coon – that Powell.
BUSH: I never did trust that man. First chance he gets he jumps ship. You’d think he doubts that we’re an empire and we need to create our own reality. Never should’ve made him Secretary of State that time.
CHENEY: You forgot the other one. Condi. She’s looking like she’s thinking of jumping ship as well.
BUSH: You just can’t trust these people. (Makes wild gesture with his arm, sending glass crashing to the floor.) Just look what they made me do! They’re not worthy of God! They don’t even vote GOP, when we need ‘em to. Just those Amish, we can rely on them to pray Republican, but they don’t vote so it doesn’t count. And the rest of them, they’re rising against God, and God will not be mocked –
CHENEY: Perhaps they just don’t want to die.
BUSH: Why wouldn’t they? Armageddon’s comin’, isn’t it, the end of the world, when you and I and the rest of the righteous will be carried aloft out of our clothes and borne to heaven, while them unrighteous Christians will go down to hell with them Jews and Muslims and atheists and suchlike?
CHENEY: Well, yes, but Armageddon seems to be taking a long time coming, isn’t it? Israel was supposed to take the first step towards it by destroyin’ the Hizbollah. But they didn’t do it.
BUSH: Don’t ya remind me of that again. I did all I could to help Olmert, gave him all the time he wanted, and he couldn’t even beat a buncha ragheads. Misery, I tell ya – misery. When Armageddon comes we’re supposed to fight the Jews. How can we do that if they ain’t helped us finish off the Muslims first?
CHENEY: Actually, Junior, speaking of finishing the Muslims, the Israelis are kind of worried about Iran.
BUSH: So am I worried about that there Ah-muddy-ney-jad guy. Let’s just call him Hitler from now on.
BUSH: Hitler’s easier to pronounce than Ah-muddy-ney-jad. Also it makes people listen to me. So, what’s the latest on him?
CHENEY: They are still enrichin’ uranium. Don’s pushing for military strikes.
BUSH: Someone or other was tellin’ me we don’t have the troops for that. I mean, I wouldn’t want a single troop to risk his life, but we’ve gotta make sacrifices in the cause of freedom, don’t ya know? But since we don’t have the troops, attackin’ Iran would mean nucular strikes. I don’t really like the sound of that.
CHENEY: Well, Junior, those bunker-busters are pretty harmless, ya know. There’s no radiation, and anyone tellin’ ya different is on the side of the terrorists. The Israelis are tellin’ us to use them. I had three calls from the Israeli Ambassador in the last two hours.
BUSH: Tell him to trust in God, then.
CHENEY: I did. He said his God isn’t our God.
BUSH: What if we didn’t attack Iran, then? There are some of our people warnin’ against it.
CHENEY: Junior? Remember, wimps go to Baghdad, real men go to Tehran. Besides, remember what Ledeen said. The US has to pick up some crappy little country every ten years or so and hurl it against the wall just to let the world know who’s boss.
BUSH (brightening up): They don’t come more crappy than Iran.
CHENEY: Right. Besides, remember the guy I shot out hunting? Just like I’d still have shot him even if I’d known he was there, because otherwise no one would’ve taken me seriously. If we hesitate, the world would lose its awe of us, and then the terrorists win. We gotta act at once.
BUSH: I’ll ask God. But I guess it’s gonna take a little time to prepare the public for another war, won’t it? What do I tell the Israeli Ambassador in the meantime?
CHENEY: You tell Don to send the Israelis three squadrons of F-16s and fifty thousand cluster bombs loaded with white phosphorus and napalm. That should kill enough raghead kids – I mean, freedom hatin’ terrorists – to keep him happy.
BUSH: And I’d better order Tony boy to get his army ready.
CHENEY: You’d better talk to him, too. I don’t know how much we can rely on him any more. Howard’s with us through thick and thin, he’s openly said he wants Australia to be our agent, but I’m not too sure Tony can swing it in Britain any more. Even his army chief, that General Dannatt, is contradicting him these days. Says Britain should get out of Iraq.
BUSH: Is that so? I’ll talk to him. (Picks up phone) Gimme Tony Blair. No, I don’t give a damn where he is. He can cover his ass later. (Brief pause) Yo, Blair! I’ve been hearing you don’t want to do God’s work any more? (Inarticulate mumbling, in a pleading tone, comes from phone) No, I don’t give a damn about what your General Doughnut said. Y’all just remember that we Americans saved your asses durin’ the Spanish Armadillo, and you’ve got a duty to fight for freedom. Right. I’ll be callin’ at the usual time with your orders for tomorrow. (Puts down phone) There.That’s the way to do it.
CHENEY: Fine, but what are you gonna do about Iraq, then? Seems like that puppet of ours is actin’ uppity, criticising our viceroy – I mean our Ambassador. I recommend we stage a coup and get rid of him.
BUSH: You mean that Prime Minister, what’s his name? He’s on our side, ain’t he?
CHENEY: Nouri al- Maliki. He’s supposed to be, but he’s not done anything so far to help us make a going concern of the place. Ain’t destroyed the militias either. The Mahdi Army, f’r instance.
BUSH: You go tell that Malarkey he better smoke out that Muddy Army or we’ll get someone who can. And didn’t I hear somethin’ about guttersnipers?
CHENEY: Yeah, snipers killed a lot of our men recently.
BUSH: We’ve gotta make sacrifices in the war on terror. Well, ya just ask the Marines to fill in the gutters in Bag-dad. No gutters, no guttersnipers, simple! Why do I have to think of everything myself? Now what were ya tellin’ me about replacing Malarkey?
CHENEY: Well, really, the problem is that there’s no one we can hand the place to and still count on controlling it. We’ll still stay the course, don’t worry, Junior, even after you leave this office. After all, why did we go invade the place if all we want to do is give it back again to those squatters?
BUSH: Squatters? You sure about that? I thought those were parts of their country.
CHENEY: Perhaps, but they’re sittin’ on top of our oil. God gave us that oil, it belongs to the United States. Even Clinton thought so. Even your dad…
BUSH: Don’t ya bring up my dad. I know you served in his administration, but the old man’s a wimp. Couldn’t finish what he started and fight in Bag-dad. He chickened out. Well, I’ll show him. I’ll smash them terrorists in Eye-rack and Af-gun-iz-tun and Congress and in the streets of San Francisco and New York. If anyone says anythin’ all I got to do is say "9/11".
CHENEY: In Afghanistan, now that you mention it, NATO’s not doing all that great either.
BUSH: It’s them Europeans. The whole lot are a bunch of cheese-eatin’ surrender monkeys. My good friend Mush is doin’ his best, riskin’ his life to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban and suchlike, and still they can’t smoke out that Osama and Moolah Omar. Talkin’ about Osama, see if you can arrange for him to release another tape threatenin’ us. My ratings need a boost so bad I’m swimmin’.
CHENEY: I’ll try, but it isn’t too easy. We couldn’t smoke him out either, do you remember?
BUSH: So what? Osama got me through the last election, didn’t he? What more do ya want me to do?
CHENEY: Talk to North Korea?
BUSH: Ya mean that King Jong the Second? I get a visceral reaction to that guy. I get a visceral reaction whenever I think of him testin’ a bomb instead of puttin’ food on the family. Most of all I get a visceral reaction when I think of him testin’ the bomb before we could get together some kinda excuse to take him and his country out. Besides, that there King Jong –
CHENEY: It’s Kim. Kim Jong Il, not King Jong the Second.
BUSH: Kim? Ya mean it’s a woman? Kim’s a woman’s name.
CHENEY: No, he’s a man all right.
BUSH: Then he’s gotta be a gay, with a woman’s name like that. I knew it. I knew he was an evildoer. Let’s all get ready and nucular him.
CHENEY: Not so fast. Our anti-missile shields don’t work, as I already told you, and Russia and China are backing him, like they’re doing Iran. Even the South Koreans wouldn’t like that –
BUSH (raging): After all we did for them, comin’ to their aid during the Mongol invasions. I’ve got a good mind to blow ‘em all up. I’m tired of waitin’ for God to arrange Armageddon. God’s makin’ a mistake if he misunderestimates me.
CHENEY: What are you planning to do, Junior?
BUSH (pulls out a black briefcase from under the desk and opens it): I’m gonna nucular them all. You gonna try and stop me? No? (Jabs buttons at random) There! Done! Now let God sort ‘em all out!
[A tiny missile silo opens in BUSH’s desk. A small missile rises from it to the ceiling, flips over, falls on BUSH and vapourises him in a miniature mushroom cloud.]
CHENEY: Sorry about that, Junior. Can’t have you messin’ with Halliburton’s profits.