Last September, I received a tape of a telephone conversation between Don King and George W. Bush -- at least, I said I did -- and promptly transcribed it for Secondsout. Most readers were appreciative, although a few were offended by the fact that I presumed boxing fans might be interested in something other than hardcore boxing. One reader went so far as to send me an email that said, "Mr. Hauser, you've fallen into the Sports Illustrated syndrome. When I pick up a weekly sports magazine, I don't want to see photographs of half-naked women in bathing suits. And when I go to a boxing website, I don't want to read about politics."
Be that as it may, I've just received a tape of another telephone conversation Between Don King and George Bush. As a service to the boxing community and to the world at large, a transcript of that tape follows:
Don King: Hello, Mr. President. This is Don King.
George Bush: Hey! How's my main man!
Don King: Not good, sir. I've got a problem.
George Bush: Well, whatever it is; you've come to the right place. I'm always anxious to help campaign contributors with their problems. What can I do for you?
Don King: It's the economy, sir. The entire boxing industry is in shambles. Bob Arum is the only promoter who's making money. Cedric Kushner is in trouble. Main Events is in trouble. Duva Boxing is in trouble. License fees are down. HBO's budget is flat and Showtime's spending has dropped. I've had to release some of my office staff and let several fighters out of their contracts.
George Bush: Don, I'm shocked. Here we are, on the verge of war with Iraq, and you're worrying about selfish personal economic interests.
Don King: Forgive me, sir; but I thought your administration was supposed to help rich people.
George Bush: Rich isn't good enough anymore. We're here for the super-rich.
Don King: How does it help the super-rich when a white-collar-crime lobby takes over the securities industry?
George Bush: Don, what are you talking about?
Don King: The stock market is in shambles. The lawyers at most major corporations function primarily as defense counsel for senior management. Your first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission was Harvey Pitt, who looks like Michael Katz without a neck brace and withheld information about accounting fraud from his own commissioners.
George Bush: Whoah! Hold on there! The inside corporate culture has made America great, and I'm not going to let a bunch of spineless al-Qaeda sympathizers tear that culture down. Besides, it's not fair to hold the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission to the same standard of honesty and integrity that the law demands of a proxy statement.
Don King: Sir, folks are complaining and I'm one of them. Something's not right. Forty percent of your last tax cut went to the richest one percent of the American population. And now you're proposing a new set of tax cuts that's even more skewed in favor of the wealthy.
George Bush: Don, I'm very disappointed that you're repeating that sort of un-American class-warfare liberal nonsense. The truth is, if you look at the whole picture, one hundred percent of my tax cuts are spread out among one hundred percent of the American people.
Don King: That's sophistry, Mr. President. Two plus two does not equal twenty-two.
George Bush: Stop whining. A lot of the techniques I'm using now, I learned from you.
Don King: Allow me, sir, to quote if I may, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's second inaugural address: "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals. Now we know that it is bad economics."
George Bush: Who am I talking with?
Don King: Pardon?
George Bush: "Heedless self-interest . . . bad morals." Don, that's not really you, is it?
Don King: It is now; ever since those motherfuckers at my brokerage house advised me to buy tech stocks for my own account at the same time they were selling theirs. And another thing, Mr. President. Why is it that I'm audited every year by the IRS when your administration hasn't bothered to prosecute 65,000 Americans who have been identified as using offshore accounts to evade taxes totaling billions of dollars annually?
George Bush: Don, it goes back to the campaign contribution thing. You're talking about loyal Americans who are helping to keep me in power so I can pursue policies that are good for America.
Don King: Are you sure they're good?
George Bush: The American people think they are. They voted for my guys in November.
Don King: And the judges in Shannon Briggs versus George Foreman voted for Briggs. That doesn't make it right.
George Bush: Don, you have to understand; we're fighting for the right of Americans to own assault rifles and teach creationism in our public schools. And a bunch of liberals are going around talking about how televangelists remind them of professional wrestlers. Last month, some Commie liberals criticized me for wanting to put a nativity scene on the White House lawn.
Don King: I guess they thought it was unrealistic to think there were three wise men and a virgin in Washington DC.
George Bush: You've got a point there, Don. But now that we control both houses of Congress, you'll see a lot more wisdom emanating from Capitol Hill.
Don King: Maybe.
George Bush: You can't possibly have doubts.
Don King: I'm trying to be a team player. But I can't help wondering -- if con is the opposite of pro, is this Congress the opposite of progress?
George Bush: Don, I'm not sure you understand politics.
Don King: But I understand cons, Mr. President.
George Bush: And I think you'd better change your attitude, fast. I know the difference between back-slapping and back-stabbing.
Don King: Is that a threat, Mr. President?
George Bush: Of course not. Think of it as a promise. And remember, Don; only in America.