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Fear of Flying With George Bush

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In the sixties, Comedian Shelley Berman convulsed audiences with a routine based upon his supposed fear of flying. After a series of mishaps he finally gets on a plane bound from New York to Los Angeles. When the plane takes off, Berman asks the stewardess, “How long until we get to L.A.” She responds, “I don’t know. We’ve never made it before.”

Taking a cue from Shelley Berman, sit back, relax and join us on Bush World Airways.

[We have a normal takeoff from Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC. After a few minutes, the airplane levels off somewhere over the Atlantic, the cabin crew begins dispensing drinks, and the voice of our pilot comes over the intercom.]

“Ah, good afternoon ladies and gentleman. This is your Captain, George Bush, speaking. My copilot today is Dick Cheney. Say something Dick.”

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[Growls and chewing sounds.]

“Thanks Dick. Ladies and gentleman thank you for joining us on Bush World One. Our destination is Kabul, Afghanistan, and our mission is to spread democracy. Our altitude is 35,000 feet. We expect smooth sailing, an on-time arrival, and a warm welcome. We believe that you’ll have a grand time in Afghanistan, as they love Americans there. So sit back, relax and leave the flying to us.”

[Time passes.]

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“Ah, good morning ladies and gentleman. We hope that you are enjoying the flight so far. We’ve had a slight change of flight plan. Our navigators, Don Rumsfeld and Condi Rice, recommend against continuing on to Afghanistan. They tell us that there is no longer anything there of interest to Americans. Instead, they recommend that we proceed to Baghdad, Iraq. We’ll get back to you and let you know more about our revised plan.”

[Short Interval.]

“Ah, good afternoon ladies and gentleman. We hope you enjoyed your lunch. The crew has decided that we should proceed directly to Baghdad and begin spreading democracy. We believe that you’ll have a grand time in Iraq, as they love Americans there. We’re still at 35,000 feet and expect smooth sailing. We should arrive in 4 hours and 20 minutes. We’ll get back to you when we’re about to turn on the seatbelt sign prior to our landing at Baghdad International Airport.”

[Longer Interval]

“Ah, good morning ladies and gentleman. We hope that you had a restful night and enjoyed your breakfast. We’ve, ah, been delayed in our approach to Baghdad International Airport. Our navigators inform me that we’ll be landing in 2 days, 3 hours and 5 minutes. What’s that Dick?”

[Growls and chewing sounds.]

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“I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen. My crew informs me of a slight change in plans. Now we expect to land in 1 week, 8 hours, and 25 minutes. We’ll be back to you when we have more information.”

[Still longer interval.]

“Ah, good evening ladies and gentleman. This is your Captain George Bush speaking. It turns out that it has taken us longer to get to Baghdad than we thought, but we expect to arrive momentarily. The Iraqis still love Americans and are eagerly awaiting our arrival. What’s that Dick?”

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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