By Tom Engelhardt
[Editor’s note: It’s unprecedented for any official — high or low — to leak information to Tomdispatch, but some weeks ago a Senior Official in one of our intelligence agencies — and since we have so many, that’s a little like saying none-of-your-business — slipped me the text of a book allegedly written by our President and due to be published early this Fall. (Unfortunately, the illustrations by Paul Wolfowitz, mentioned on the title page, did not accompany the manuscript, and a page and a half of the text was missing.)
If my informant’s account is accurate, George’s Amazing Alphabet Book of the Contemporary World, or Al-Qaedas All Around was produced before the November election when the White House grew tired of kiss-and-tell memoirs from former administration officials and decided to strike back. The text was then held up by hostile CIA vetters; and further delayed when, in a post-election euphoria, the President decided to “update” the book before handing it over to new CIA Director Porter Goss for a final vetting (which reportedly took less than ten minutes).
I’ve delayed releasing the text at Tomdispatch because I was suspicious of its provenance and authenticity, and because I’ve so often criticized the use of anonymous sources in mainstream journalism. Yet everything about the text rang true to me and, in the end, it seemed unreasonable to hold back a story of this magnitude.
To be safe, I had the Alphabet Book informally vetted by several well-known children’s book writers (all of whom asked that their names not be used) as well as two former Yale classmates of the President. They concluded, beyond almost a shadow of a doubt, that it was the genuine article. Two of the writers suggested that, given its chatty tone, the President might actually have spoken the text into a tape recorder.
My Senior Intelligence Source does not believe that Paul Wolfowitz, well known as an amateur artist, actually drew the illustrations (which he hasn’t seen). His sources, including an Iraqi informant known inside the Intelligence Community as Screwball, suggested that they might have been outlined on cocktail napkins by Donald Rumsfeld during an especially tedious meeting about torture in early 2004 in the office of then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, and subsequently colored in by Vice President Dick Cheney from a secret bunker somewhere in the greater Washington area. Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins is reportedly set to publish the book in September with a million copy first printing aimed, according to a publicist for the firm (who also insisted on anonymity), at the burgeoning evangelical children’s market.
I was convinced of the book’s authenticity, in part, by the ever-expanding White House website aimed at children. It even includes a sub-site focused on the President’s dog (Barney), cat (India), pet Longhorn (Ofelia), and the Vice President’s two dogs (Jackson and Dave), which contains “answers” — also, according to my source, written by the President — to children’s questions. (Q: Dani from Dallas, Texas writes: Barney — My scottie, Cooper has a question for you. How does sandpaper feel? A: Barney, First Dog: Ruff!!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HEE HOOO HAAA.”) Clearly, Karl Rove has launched a new campaign to reach around the “filter” of the media and directly mobilize a new generation of Americans for the Republican Party. The President’s ABC book will evidently be the centerpiece of that campaign.
Of course, I have no way of confirming any of this, my resources being slim, and so must leave what follows to your judgment. But whatever the reason it was slipped my way, I’m pleased to be the first to release the President’s manuscript to the world, word for word as it arrived at my doorstep. Make of it what you will.]
George’s Amazing Alphabet Book of the Contemporary World, or Al-Qaedas All Around (completely cross-referenced)
By George W Bush
Illustrated by Paul Wolfowitz
A Laura Bush Production for a Literate Society
A as in Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaedas all around. I know. I know. It’s usually alligator or aardvark or ant or armadillo, but kids, really, it’s a New World and it’s never too early to be armed and ready for it. (By the way, boys and girls, prepare yourself for the first White House single-shooter video game, Armageddon Battles Al-Qaeda! In your neighborhood stores soon!) Amazing Fact: Did you know that, according to my friend Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, at least ten terrorists could fit in your room and you wouldn’t even know it?
B as in Bases. Bases are for bashing bad guys (see A). A base is a little world built by the good guys of KBR (see H) for the good guys at the Pentagon to house our good guys who hunt their bad guys in the sorts of places — and, believe me, there are a scadzillion of them (other than your bedroom) — where they love to hide and that, until a few years ago, nobody even knew existed, and that nobody can spell like Youzebeckistan (see U). Kids, if your teacher tries to make you spell Youzebeckistan, write a letter of complaint to my friend Attorney General Gonzales (and spell any way you like), or report your teacher to the U.S. Air Force’s Eagle Eyes program (see E). To get the bad guys before they get us, we build bases everywhere! My friend Paul Wolfowitz, who used to work for the Pentagon, likes to call our bases “lily pads,” and we’re the frogs who jump from one of them to the other hunting down the flies. You know how irritating flies are. (By the way, our bases have nothing to do with oil [see O].)
C as in Counting. See Rummy count the WMD! (WMD are three well-respected letters — see W, M, and D — which when put together are massively destructive! They mean Weapons of Mass Destruction, which can destroy massively, which is why we went to war with Saddam Hussein who was hiding in a spiderhole and threatening to spray WMD all over our country! WMD are still in Iraq even though we haven’t found them yet because they’re probably in one of those spiderholes like the one we found Saddam in, which is what my friend Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld says. Actually, here’s an Amazing Fact that will soon appear in a companion volume, Rummy’s Amazing Counting Book of the Contemporary World: Rummy says: “You could put enough biological weapons into the room you’re sitting in today to kill tens of thousands of people!” Now, how about that! For those of you who are Math wizards, how many rooms like the one you’re sitting in would fit inside Iraq. Hint, it’s 171,599 square miles of sand! By the way, I made a great joke about WMD at a media “roast” for all those stupid reporters a while back. I showed a picture of myself looking out the window of the Oval Office (which could have been a really good “O,” a lot better than “Oil”) and I said, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.” And then I showed a picture of myself looking under the furniture and said, “Nope, no weapons over there.” That cracked them up. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HEE HOOO HAAA.
D as in Detention. Ahmed, the terrorist, was detended in Guantanamo [See G].
E as in Empire. (E could have been Energy, but honestly, energy’s not that important to the people I know, especially not to my friend Vice President Cheney and his Energy Task Force). My uncle empired at the Little League baseball game. Amazing Double Bonus Letter: E as in Eagle Eyes. I eagle-eyed Ahmed, the beady-eyed terrorist (see A). Kids, the Air Force has set up a special Eagle Eyes program just in case Ahmed, the terrorist, sneaks into your neighborhood. You can go to the cool USAF Eagle Eyes web page and study “categories of suspicious behavior.” Be the first to report a terrorist moving in next door! If you’re lucky, maybe you can be the first kid on the block to call in an air strike on a neighbor!
F as in Florida. I love Florida. It’s the best F-word around! It’s how I F-ed the Democrats!
G as in Guantanamo. My [EXCISED] [CLASSIFIED] with the [CLASSIFIED] while my hands were [TOP SECRET]. Guantanamo, which is a [CLASSIFIED] for the [CLASSIFIED] [EXCISED][CLASSIFIED], more than the [TOP SECRET] justice.
H as in Halliburton. See Dick run Halliburton. See Halliburton buy Kellog, Brown & Root. See Dick Quit Halliburton. See Dick become Vice President. See Halliburton get no-bid contracts for I-raq. See KBR build bases in I-raq. See Halliburton deliver oil to I-raq. See Halliburton and KBR take the taxpayer to the cleaners. See Dick smile. See Dick hunt Quail. (See I, see Q.)
I as in I-raq. I wracked I-raq! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HEE HOOO HAAA. I-raq is a really, really interesting country. Lots of Moolahs live there. I visited once and, believe it or not, they even have turkeys… but they’re plastic!
J as in Jee-whiz, I can’t think of a J, except for Jail (see D, see G), but kids, the truth is — and don’t tell Laura I said this — you really don’t need all these letters! I mean, honestly, 26 of them? You can just use G for J and C for K and some of them like U are only good to make funny names for ridiculous countries. Tell your teacher that George said it was okay to skip the weird and useless ones. If she objects, follow the instructions outlined in B.
L as in Lion. Lions Live Lively Lives in Africa, where we’re building new bases (see B) to protect Americans who want to take safaris and check out the lions and zebras (see Z), and not because of oil which I haven’t mentioned yet because it’s not very important (see O).
M as in Mission. The Caped Crusaders went on a mission to rescue the I-raqis from Saddam’s terrorists (see A). Whoops, kids, never use the word “crusade”! Not that it’s not a great word headed by an all-star letter, C, but I used it twice and you wouldn’t believe how reporters jumped down my throat. See, when I was a kid, Errol Flynn went crusading to the Middle East and kicked some Arab butt, but that’s ancient history that you can’t mention now. And you know what? Dwight D. Eisenhower, another Republican president, used “crusade” in a book title, and no one said a word! But that was before the planet was filled with Muslims with TVs. These days, instead of “crusade” I use “global war on terrorism,” or “spreading democracy,” or I even speak of my “calling,” which is a good Christian word that leaves Muslims out completely. But just so you know, when I “call” you — or your daddies and mommies in the Reserves — to my Global War on Terror, I really mean Crusade! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HEE HOOO HAAA.
N as in Nucular. The nuculus went nucular. Boom! Nucular weapons are terrible things (see C). We went to war, as my friend Secretary of State Condi Rice used to say, to stop mushrooms from growing in American cities! Mushrooms can poison you and Saddam Hussein wanted to poison us! But don’t worry, kids, we won’t let the bad guys get nucular weapons! We’re building lots of nucular weapons right now to take them out!
O as not in Oil. The handyman put oil on the squeaky door hinge. Oil is good for fixing things and oil is something you change. Sometimes you even regime-change oil regimes. But it’s not worth wasting a letter on, that’s for sure. Amazing Fact: Chevron once named an oil tanker after my friend Condi!.
P as in Patriot Act. Peter Patriot acts to protect the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act patriotized our country. It patriotized our courts. It patriotized our jails (see G). It patriotized our medical records. It patriotized our libraries. It patriotized your parents. Keep your eyes and ears open! If Ahmed, the terrorist, or anybody else in your neighborhood doesn’t support the Patriot Act, call Eagle Eyes (see E) and let us know. We’ll be sure to patriotize them.
Q as in Quail. See Dick shoot the Quail, all 400 of them! Quail are tiny, chicken-y birds with lots and lots of little bones and no meat, but Dick loves to…
[Note: A page and a half of text is missing here, assumedly including the rest of the letter Q and all of R.]
S as in Social Security. The Department of Homeland Security should be responsible for our country’s social security. Boys and girls, you know how when you’re really little you have a security blanket you just drag around everywhere? And then, when you get older, it’s kind of embarrassing, so you toss it away? Well, here’s the funny thing, thanks to a bunch of ancient Democrats, old people have a money security blanket we call Social Security. Don’t you think it’s time for your grandmas and grandpas to grow up and toss that blankie away? My friend Dick thinks so. He says he doesn’t need a social-security blankie. (see H) And neither do I, and neither do my Mom and Dad. And believe me, they’re old. We all just want to invest our own money and make it ourselves. Don’t you?
T as in 2000 election. (Kids, this is a trick one, but so was that election!) Amazing Fact: 2000 looks like it starts with 2, but it actually starts with T! I always liked what my old Texas pard Phil Gramm said with a whoop when he won his Senate seat back in 1984: “We’re going to keep on building the party until we’re hunting Democrats with dogs.” He was right. Now, when Democrats whoop — like Howard Dean did — we hunt them with Karl Rove’s dogs like Dick hunts quail (see Q).
U as in Uzbekistan (or Oozebeakustan or whatever). I bet u can’t spell Uzbekistan! HA HA HA HEE HEE HEE HO HO HO. If you’re looking for terrorists, they usually hide in countries whose names I can’t spell — like Yousbekistan and Afghanistan and Yemenistan. Countries whose names I can’t spell have lots of caves for terrorists to hide in.
V as in Camp Viper. Don’t let the Vindow Viper near Camp Viper! (HA HA etc.) Ur was one of those old, old U-places (see U) in I-raq (see I). A two-letter city! If that isn’t suspicious, I don’t know what is! Imagine if Duluth was Du, or Laredo was La, or Peoria was Pe (HEE HEE etc.) Name a place Ur and it’s bound to fill up with terrorist vipers. So we built bases nearby including Camp Viper and Ve Viped them out (HO HO etc.).
W as in Waterboarding. Wally waterboarded Ahmed (see A). Kids, it’s not surfboarding, but almost! There’s the board and the water and the person on the board, and it’s the main sport of the Central Intelligence Agency (see G), and the great thing is — you can do it twenty-four hours a day. You never have to wait for the surf to be up.
X as in X-ray. Agent X X-rayed your car to see if it contained terrorist contraband or a secret nucular weapon [see N]. No kidding, kids, our Homeland Security Department can do drive-by X-rays of cars in their constant search for terrorists. And if your teddy bear is filled with explosives, then it’s Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay (see G) for you, which is [CLASSIFIED] for [CLASSIFIED] in which [TOP SECRET], not far from the Bermuda Triangle.
Y as in you’re with us or you’re against us. Ahmed was against us (see W) and he came from Yemenistan. Okay, “you’re with us or you’re against us” isn’t one word, but how many words begin with Y, other than Yemenistan (and, believe me, you don’t want to know about that)?
Z as in Zebra. Ziggy the Zebra hates terrorists (see A). Zebras live in Africa where we’re setting up bases (see B), but not because we’re interested in oil (see O). No kidding! Just like that other George, the one who chopped down the cherry tree with that weapon of mass destruction (see N, see C), I would never lie to you.
Copeyrite 2005 George W. Bush
This piece first appeared at Tomdispatch.com.