DC 5/11: Day of Inconvenience

by Ted on March 8, 2004

In what appears to be an attempt to defuse some of the controversy, NEWSWEEK has learned, White House officials have privately signaled to the commission that Bush will not rigidly stick to the one-hour time limit. When time is up, Bush won’t walk out if there are still more questions, an aide said.

That was his plan? After sixty minutes with two members of his own party, whom he appointed to investigate 9/11, he was planning on turning his back and walking out on them? [UPDATE: The co-chair is a Democrat appointed by Daschle. Sorry about that.]

Boy, that moment would look great on a National Review commemorative plate. Can you imagine such a scene? I can.


A play in one act

(curtain opens on four men in suits in a well-lit conference room.)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT: …so I know you’ve studied the tapes. I doubt that I’m telling you anything you don’t know. But it turns out that he was eating so much because he had to. He needed it in order to turn into a butterfly.


That’s why the caterpillar was so hungry, you see.

THOMAS H. KEAN, 9/11 COMMITTEE CHAIR: Thank you, Mr. President. We still have a number of questions, and we certainly appreciate your cooperation-

BUSH: Unprecedented co-operation, I think you meant to say.

KEAN: Unprecedented co-operation. Of course.

LEE H. HAMILTON, CO-CHAIR: Mr. President, it would help us a lot if you could help us reconstruct the sequence of events, from your perspective, during August of 2001. You were receiving daily security briefings with Condoleeza Rice, is that correct?

ALBERTO GONZALES, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Mr. President, you don’t have to answer that question.

BUSH: Hold on.


Lee, I’m changing your nickname. You’re no longer Fletch Armstrong.

HAMILTON: Of course not, Mr. President.

BUSH: Now you’re Turkey Tails.

HAMILTON: Certainly, Mr. President. If I could just ask, we’ve had conflicting reports about your contact with…

(electronic alarm is heard, to the tune of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”)

BUSH: (stands up) And that’s an hour! See ya!

KEAN: Mr. President, we want to respect your time, but we still have a number of questions, and we were hoping that you would consider-

BUSH: Sorry, fellas, I’ve got a plane waiting. There’s a pile of boxes waiting for me in Ohio, and they’re not going to squint at themselves. T.T.F.N., boys! (BUSH leaves)

(BUSH re-enters) I mean… I’ll just be a’wrangling on… to the… pokey…


(BUSH leaves again)

In the interest of fairness and balance, I’m pleased to submit another vision of the fateful day. This is a portion of an untitled teleplay by Lionel Chetwynd.

(Camera finds BUSH in a shaft of light, shackled to the ground at the bottom of a pit. Surrounding him, beret-wearing members of the 9/11 COMMISSION jeer from the dimly-lit seats above.)

BUSH: Please, I’m begging you! At this moment, the forces of Harakat ul-Mujahideen may be planning another attack on security forces in Srinagar. There’s been a lot of chatter about Mujahedin-e Khalq planning another attack on soft targets in Tikrit. And Dianne Thompson and Jeanne Hopkins of Cupertino, CA are about to be legally joined in matrimony in San Francisco.

I will do everything that I can to co-operate with this commission- nothing is more important to me than getting to the bottom of the 9/11 attacks. But can’t you see- there’s no time for this right now. I’ve got to do my sworn duty to protect this country!

(Committee members shout, pelt BUSH with baguettes and copies of “Dude, Where’s My Country?”)

COMMITTEE MEMBER (in Aramaic): SILENCE, impudent one! We’re more interested in special interests in Washington than in the security of the American people! That’s why we joined this 9/11 Commission!

BUSH: (quietly) Damn you.

(Door to pit breaks down, flooding in light. SIX TERRORISTS storm in, as COMMITTEE MEMBERS uselessly flail their arms in fear.)

TERRORIST: Bush! You have disrupted our close and ongoing ties to Saddam Hussein’s regime! You must pay!

BUSH: Time to take out the trash.

(BUSH pulls chains from ground, uses them to whip attacking terrorist. Blocks ninja star from TERRORIST with wrist cuffs. TERRORIST jumps BUSH from behind. BUSH flips him, knocks him to the ground, breaks his neck, and takes his gun.)

BUSH: From your cold, dead hands.

(That’s enough Lionel Chetwynd- ed.)



matthew 03.08.04 at 6:45 pm



Matt Weiner 03.08.04 at 7:11 pm

I was laughing at the end of the first speech–but isn’t the WH counsel Alberto Gonzales? (Not sure about the S/Z.)
Your friendly neighborhood ex-copy editor,


Ted Barlow 03.08.04 at 7:23 pm


You’re right, sorry. I’m fixing it now.


Ophelia Benson 03.08.04 at 7:46 pm

An hour? An hour?!? That would be hilarious if it weren’t so




Thomas 03.08.04 at 8:27 pm

Lee Hamilton is a Republican now? When did that happen? I thought he was a Democrat, and that he was appointed by Tom Daschle.


Ted Barlow 03.08.04 at 8:41 pm


You’re right; sorry about that. I’ll make a note.


Realish 03.09.04 at 12:40 am

Ted, please also note that “unprecedented” is a five syllable word. I’m just saying. You might want to revise the Bush part of the transcript to reflect current linguistic/intellectual realities.


Kevin A. Hayden 03.09.04 at 1:05 am

Wait. I could swear he was reading about goats last time. Nobody can advance from goats to caterpillars that fast. He must have superhuman powers.


Andrew Nortrhup 03.09.04 at 1:10 am

Actually, I think the one-hour format could work, but only if Regis Philben gets to ask the questions.


norbizness 03.09.04 at 2:06 am

Where’s the part where Bush describes how Sergeant Mahoney put glue in the Captain’s shampoo bottle? After all, much of August 2001 was spent in Crawford, in quiet contemplation of the comic nuances of all seven Police Academy movies…


Lionel Chetwynd 03.09.04 at 2:13 am

You’re good, Ted. But nothing can beat “Try Commander-in-Chief! Whose present command is: Take the President home!”


Grumpy 03.09.04 at 3:11 am

This is disgraceful. How dare you concoct this fiction when everyone knows that the credibility of America cannot be doubted!

He was reading “The Pet Goat” that morning, not “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Get your facts straight!


clueless 03.09.04 at 7:26 pm

When time is up, Bush will not walk out.

Since the ‘visit’ will probably be at the White house, at the end of one hour, Bush will just ask the secret service to escort the panelists out.

Bush – he keeps his promises.


The truth 03.09.04 at 10:31 pm

Is negative job growth still considered growth even though its negative?? My friend Mr. Kafka is writing another book and wanted to know.

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