Barack Obama and George W. Bush will sit down in the Oval Office for a chat this afternoon. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation!
Well, since we can't hear it for real, we'll just have to imagine it:
THE SCENE: Washington, D.C.; The White House; Oval Office. Seated at a large desk is a grey haired man in his early sixties wearing a perplexed expression. He is staring intently at a piece of paper on his desk and absent-mindedly taps the pencil against his temple. The phone buzzes. He looks up.
VOICE: Mr. President? Senator Obama is here.
PRESIDENT: Hmmm? Oh, okay. Send him on in. Oh, and listen: Could we get some fig newtons in here?
VOICE: Yes, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT: And a coupla Diet Dr. Peppers, okay? This could take awhile.
VOICE: Yes, sir.
(The door opens. In walks a tall, African-American man with a wide, inviting smile. He strides confidently into the room and extends his hand warmly.)
SENATOR: Mr. President. A pleasure.
PRESIDENT: Hey! Howya doin'! (They shake hands.) You know what? You're just in time. I'm in a real pickle over here and I bet you can help me out. You went to Yale, right?
PRESIDENT: Really? Well la-di-da. I'm a Yale man, m'self. You on the cheerleading squad?
PRESIDENT: Too bad. You'da been good at it. I've heard you talk. Anyhoo, have a look at this. (He directs the tall man to his desk and picks up the paper he has been examining, handing it to the Senator. He points.) I was just fine until I got to here. Now I'm all in a fix. Can you make heads or tails out of it?
SENATOR: (Glancing briefly at it.) Um, yes. The final word in the Jumble is THIRST. And the answer to "How big was the bald man after he bought his toupee?" is: "A hair taller."
PRESIDENT: (Doubles over with laughter.) I get it! A hair taller! Cuz of the hair on his head, right? That's great! Aw, thanks so much! That's been driving me nuts all mornin'! (Pause.) Aw, geez. Where are my manners? Have a seat, have a seat. (Pushes intercom.) Shiela?
VOICE: It's Penelope, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT: Shiela can I get those fig newtons toot sweet? My guest looks awful hungry!
VOICE: On the way, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT: Fab. (To the Senator.) I hope you brought an appetite! These newtons are store-fresh! Only the best when you're the POTUS!
SENATOR: I'm sure.
PRESIDENT: Well, you'll find out soon enough. Say! You want to sit in the chair?
SENATOR: That isn't necessary, really....
PRESIDENT: (Pulling at him.) No! Do it! You'll love it! C'mon, it'll be fun!
SENATOR: No, honestly, that isn't....
PRESIDENT: Aw, humor an old president, will you please? Sit! Sit!
SENATOR: (He sits in the chair.) Very nice.
PRESIDENT: Comfy, ain't it?
SENATOR: It is, yes.
PRESIDENT: You can't have that one, though! That's my chair. I'm takin' it with me. You'll have to find your own.
SENATOR: I understand.
PRESIDENT: Hop on down to IKEA or somethin'. They've got a good selection.
SENATOR: (Getting up and returning to his seat.) If you wouldn't mind, sir. I'd really like to get started.
PRESIDENT: Hmmm? Oh! Sure, sure. President stuff. Right. (He sits finally.) So. (Awkward pause.) Whaddaya wanna know?
SENATOR: Well, for starters, I'd like to know if you plan to initiate a stimulus package between now and the inaugural. I'd really be interested in extending unemployment benefits, of course. Food stamps. Federal aid to the states, that kind of thing. I know you're big on tax cuts and cutting checks to the electorate and that sort of thing, but I really think- if you don't mind my saying so- that we should concentrate on the kind of aid that will have the most immediate impact and do the least damage to the deficit in the long run. At least, that's what I plan to do starting in January.
PRESIDENT: Uh-huh. Well.
SENATOR: Then there's the bailout package. How you're planning to divvy up the money to the banks. And now this new AIG development, which I imagine is very troubling.
PRESIDENT: Yeah, that. Very...troubling, sure.
SENATOR: And, finally, we should probably talk about the state of the wars.
PRESIDENT: The wars, right.
SENATOR: My intelligence briefing told me a lot, of course, but I'm sure you're able to offer a unique perspective from where you sit.
PRESIDENT: Yeah. (Another awkward pause. The seconds tick by. Nobody moves. Finally:) Say, did you know this chair spins all the way around? (He pushes off the desk and goes into a fast spin.) Wheeeeeeeeeee!
SENATOR: Oh, dear....