Predictably, there has been a mixed response, both at home and abroad, to President Bush's State of the Union address.
Within the administration itself, rumors surfaced of minor dissent when President Bush designated Interior Secretary Gale Norton as the "Cabinet Member Who Got to Skip the State of the Union Speech". This adheres to long-standing tradition in which a President takes such action to preserve the line of succession should tragedy strike and to reward exemplary performance by a Cabinet member.
"President Bush thought she was richly deserving for basically staying the hell out of the limelight," spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "Since hardly anyone knows who she is or what her views are, we figured she was like an insurance policy against anything bad happening."
The designation of Norton brought a rather petulant response from the camps of naturalized citizens, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Housing Secretary Mel Martinez who are barred by the Constitution from holding the office of President.
"Just because he can't occupy the White House is no reason Mr. Martinez should have to sit through every boring ass State of the Union speech," said a source, reporting on the dissension.
A spokesman for the Chao camp acknowledged similar sentiments, adding, "it's not fair that Ms. Norton gets to play strip poker with energy company executives while Ms. Chao has to sit here and pretend she's interested."
Also on the domestic front, Bush called for a package of corporate tax cuts and other economic stimuli and, in a clear reference to Enron, without actually invoking the name, said,
"we have a vision where the 'largest bankruptcy in US history' is only the latest in a line of such designations. With bipartisan Congressional support, we can see even bigger and better bankruptcies in the years to come."
("We don't use the EN-ron word," Ari Fleischer would say later.)
"wish I had his eyebrows..."
"Bet you wish you had my eyebrows, Gephardt."
Democratic response was cautious, with House of Representatives leader Dick Gephardt saying, "while we admire the scope of the recent bankruptcy , we Democrats continue to believe the best way to achieve the President's goal of bigger and better bankruptcies in the future is through more government involvement."
Abroad, the response from countries named as sponsors of terrorism was largely predictable. North Korean leader, Kim Chong il has vowed to track down any sources of leaks to the outside world - and not only to the US intelligence community.
"It is nobody's business what we do within our borders," said a spokesman for the government. who was immediately shot for saying that much.
From Iraq, President Saddam Hussein belched mightily, sucked in his stomach, and said, " as you can see, we Iraqis continue to suffer from the unlawful embargo placed upon us by the infidel Americans. What they call 'places for the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction' are actually our facilities into research on population control. Our scientists are simply on the cutting edge of new technologies for reducing human population."
Iraqi population control researchers at work.
Standing before the bin Laden Institute for Reducing Population (BLIRP), Hussein went on to say that Iraq emphatically does NOT harbor terrorists, but does support Islamic freedom fighters. He then left to go sailing.
Hussein:enduring embargo hardships
A spokesman for Iran's Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Hoseini Khamenei, said, "we think President Bush has us confused with Iraq."The Ayatollah demands an immediate apology."
All in all, the responses to Bush's speech were largely predictable and/or favorable, with Couch Potatoes of America President Charles 'Tubby' Tuber perhaps best summing up the reaction of the average American when he said,
"the one thing I wish Dubya had addressed is, does he think New England's got any chance at all against the Rams in the Super Bowl?"