By Thomas Hauser:
In January 2001, I reported on how Don King counseled George W. Bush in the art of trickeration, thereby helping him capture Florida's 25 electoral votes and the presidency of the United States. Now, beset by mounting problems, George Bush has again turned to King for help. Secondsout has received a tape of a recent telephone conversation between the two men. As a service to the boxing community and to the world at large, a transcript of that tape follows:
Don King: Hey!!! How's my main man?
George Bush: Not so good. This is a difficult time for all Americans. And it's particularly difficult for me because I have no idea what I'm doing.
Don King: That, my glorious-and-noble leader, is of secondary importance. Whatever you do, I'm confident that your well-paid spinmasters will put the best possible face on it.
George Bush: Maybe; but we've got congressional elections coming up, and I'm not sure you understand the image problem I'm facing.
Don King: Wrong, my splendiferous-and-unfairly-maligned sovereign. I understand the art of image-making completely. You see, politics is like boxing. In both endeavors, no matter how good you are, there will always be people who try to tarnish your reputation. And no matter how bad you are, there will always be people who give you awards and bestow honors upon you.
George Bush: That's true under normal circumstances, but the problems now are threatening to get out of hand.
Don King: What problems are bothering you, my high-and-exaulted potentate?
George Bush: Well, first, there's the economy. I thought it would be a good idea to cut taxes for rich people. Then, all of a sudden, the stock market tanked and I've got all these middle-class voters whining and crying about how their retirement funds have vanished.
Don King: Praise Jesus!
George Bush: What?
Don King: Praise Jesus! Resurrection.
George Bush: I don't get it.
Don King: It's simple, my fiscally-prudent-economically-astute-MBA-president. We must resurrect the economy. Explain to me, if you will, how and when your economic problems started.
George Bush: I'm not sure, but I think Enron had something to do with it. My friend Kenny-Boy Lay used to run it. At the end of last year, it was the fifth-ranked company on the Fortune 500.
King: Which is like being ranked number five by the World Boxing Association. Continue.
Bush: Anyway, Enron filed for bankruptcy, and I still don't understand what happened.
King: Actually, my dear friend who I love so much I can hardly stand it, what happened was Enron signed contracts to supply energy to customers for the next thirty years. But Kenny Boy and his cohorts deliberately underestimated future costs and reported their phoney projected profits as current income.
Bush: And then there was Dynegy.
King: Once ranked number thirty on the Fortune 500. Its stock has dropped by ninety-six percent.
Bush: What happened there?
King: Dynegy told investors that the natural gas industry would be profitable in the future and that it had entered into big contracts with other major industry players. But the contracts were phoney because the other so called major players were illusory, and Dynegy knew it.
Bush: Hey, you're really up on this stuff. I suppose you know about Adelphia Communications too.
King: I do indeed. Adelphia is now bankrupt and has stiffed most of its creditors. In fact, Adelphia owes my dear friends at HBO and Showtime millions of dollars that it collected from subscribers for the Lewis-Tyson fight.That's what happens when you file phoney financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission listing an inflated number of home subscribers.
Bush: And Worldcom?
King: Number forty-two on this year's Fortune 500; also now bankrupt. Another global communications company that cooked its books by treating billions of dollars in ordinary costs as capital expenditures.
Bush: How many millions?
King: I said billions. Between six and seven to be precise.
Bush: That's amazing. It makes the $263,000,000 dollars that Harken Energy lost as a result of conflicts of interest while I was on the board of directors seem like peanuts.
King: Not to mention the even smaller $848,000 that you got from the questionable sale of Harken stock.
Bush: Don't go there, Don. You're giving me a headache.
Don King: I know how you feel. I once trusted Martha Stewart. She was like a sister to me. There was a time when I read Martha's magazine the way Evander Holyfield reads the Bible. And now . . . Forgive me if I weep. I've been betrayed.
(At this point, there was a gap of twenty seconds in the conversation during which sobbing was heard.)
George Bush: Don; are you all right?
Don King: Yes, my magnanimous-and-compassionate ruler. Thank you for caring about me.
George Bush: It's nothing, Don. I care about all Americans. That's why I'm planning to invade Iraq.
Don King: I've heard talk about that, Mr. President.
George Bush: And I'm going to do it. That guy over there, Saddam Hussein, is unbelievably bellicose. He's more difficult to deal with than any person I've ever met.
Don King: Obviously, you've never met Bernard Hopkins.
George Bush: It doesn't matter. My mind is made up, and the American people are behind me.
Don King: That might be true, my bold-and-courageous warrior. But as Will Rogers once said, if you're riding ahead of the herd, it's a good idea to look back over your shoulder now and then to make sure that the cattle are still following.
George Bush: You sound skeptical.
Don King: I am.
George Bush: Can you think of a better idea than invading Iraq?
Don King: I can indeed, my open-minded commander-in-chief.
George Bush: Let's hear it.
Don King: Invade Florida.
George Bush: That's ridiculous.
Don King: Trust me.
George Bush: But Florida is a state. My brother is governor of Florida.
Don King: That's the beauty of it, my principled-well-intentioned leader. Invading Florida will enable you to tell the American people that you're putting the good of the nation ahead of personal interest. I can see it now, my conscientious-and-beneficent ruler. You can go on television from the Oval Office and explain that you love the governor of Florida like a brother, but what's right is right and this invasion is necessary to safeguard the American way of life.
George Bush: I'm not sure the American people will buy that.
Don King: Of course, they will. Look at the last presidential election and the chaos in Florida. You can say you're invading to restore democracy.
George Bush: But Don; this is about the war on terrorism.
Don King: Correct. And fifteen of the nineteen September 11th hijackers lived in Florida. Many of them received flight training at schools in Florida.
George Bush: Won't the good people of Florida resent being invaded?
Don King: Perhaps; but the Arab world will approve; particularly when you point out how many of our Jewish brothers and sisters live in Miami Beach. The Middle Eastern oil interests that you love will think it's the next best thing to invading Israel.
George Bush: I don't know, Don. I'll need some time to think about it.
Author's Note: And think carefully. War is no laughing matter.
For feedback on this article Thomas Hauser can be emailed at: thauserthauserrcn.com