How I Helped George W. Bush
Take Over the World by Imitating a Cow

I am sitting on my couch, where I’ve been sitting for the past week and a half, stunned and numb from watching great buildings crash and burn, over and over again. I am flattened by the horror and the madness of it all.

Though these dark images smolder in my brain, they pollute but do not overpower the images of the acts of kindness and selflessness I’ve witnessed, further crippling me with humility. The staggering extent of my personal failings and selfishness lay exposed before me like a gutted pig. I sob like a baby watching those firefighters and police digging and dying, looking for survivors that the rest of us know do not exist. I wake up on the floor, having passed out while praying to a God I’ve tried desperately not to believe in for decades.

And just as I think the healing process has taken hold, I look up from my sorry state and see, on television, wearing a smart blue tie and a tiny American flag on his lapel, our president, George W. Bush, taking over the world. His address to the nation is extraordinary, and I immediately recognize it as one of the best speeches ever written. And he reads it very well, even the big words, stumbling only once. And he looks great, like a fashionably hip CEO. His countenance is bold and stern. He beams assurance and strength and even bravery.

“Hey!” I shout to the television. “What the hell have you done with our president?” What happened to that other guy, I wonder, the one who made half of us vote for a dolt like Al Gore because we knew G. Dubya would be an even bigger dolt, and would only end up being a puppet with so many corporate and military industrial hands up his ass that all he could do is squawk.

Well he ain’t squawking now, folks. He’s looking and sounding like a damn god.

And the entire Congress is going nutty. I expect them to start slam dancing, or holding up lighters and shouting out requests for something from World War II. By the end of the speech, even I feel like cheering. But I do not cheer, understanding that it would be fundamentally wrong to applaud a man who has just subdued a planet.

So I return to the mire, to cry and write letters I don’t send, to watch buildings crash and burn, over and over.

The next day, I go to the library and print out a copy of the speech, anxious to disprove my theory that the world had just been conquered by an MBA. It should be fairly easy to do, considering that everyone I talk to is blathering on like Kiss groupies about how totally awesome Bush’s address was. Flags are everywhere. People are walking tall again. I am obviously wrong.

I rush home and read the speech -- and I’ll be damned if it still doesn’t sound like Bush just took over the world. I open the Spokesman-Review to find what’s being said about all of this, to get a broader perspective. But, to my surprise, on the editorial page I find the words to patriotic songs, including, “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

I begin to doubt my own sanity. The dream that I know isn’t a dream continues to seem like one. Seeking solace, I call an old friend, Buck Owlsey, and tell him of my paranoia.

Strangely, Buck reassures me, and says that everything is fine. “You’re not paranoid,” he says. “You merely refuse to accept that there is no other way for us to survive. The market and our economy crumbled with those buildings – it had mere days to live, if not hours. We had to know – and know now -- that there was a future. And a war economy is better than no economy. As a bonus, the more shit we stir up, while we’re out nabbing and stabbing terrorists, means even more bombs and beans and boots will be needed. We will go back to work, ye of little faith. We will rise again. Think of this as a healing period. This is no less than the birth of the world’s greatest empire – a world empire.”

“But it’s so wrong,” I say. “He put this on us when we were hurting like never before. While we are supremely confused, he paints a complex world in black and white, Good and Evil, then talks like a cross between Batman and Alexander the Great. He threatened every nation on earth, demanding access to their ports and bankbooks, saying they’re either with us or they’re with the terrorists. They all line up behind him. I expect him any time to start bragging about the cool sixes carved in his head. And we the people -- we all following along like cattle.”

“Go to the window after you hang up,” says Buck. “Consider what you see and hear. But first, my friend, answer me something: This is war, you understand. Your president has called for unity. Are you with us?”

“How can I be.”

“Terrorist!” he shouts.

I walk over to the window. On TV, the local news is wrapping up. Steph and Dan are doing the story just before the traditional, final dog-that-climbs-trees story. Steph tells me that the new, necessary, tightened security will cause changes in the way we live. Yes, says Dan, the federal government will need to compile extensive files on all Americans. Then, with a smile, Steph and Dan move on, as if they’d just read a story about a surfboarding cat.

“That’s it,” I shout, knowing that this is the final straw, that my fellow citizens will be pouring into the streets, quoting Jefferson and Tom Paine, marching toward the courthouse with hastily painted signs, or maybe even pitchforks and torches.

I pull open the window and stick out my head and immediately see, in the midst of the crowd below, an old man looking up at me with a sad face, shaking his head. Then I hear what he’s been hearing, and it is a terrible thing to bear. Then I see that someone else hears the same thing -- a man pacing, back and forth, slapping his hand with a rolled up newspaper. And I notice that a few others hear it as well. And possibly a few more. But that’s all. Only those few. Only we hear that sad and dreadful sound rising from the masses.

And what we hear is “Moooo. Moooooooooo.”

Stik Mann is editor of Stik Mann’s OtherSpokane and currently believes the new dishwasher at the restaurant where he works is a plant from the Office of Homeland Security.

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