Planning the Libby pardon

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"Yesterday was a very sad day for Scooter and his family. But there's an ongoing process, and it wouldn't be appropriate for me to discuss it while the process is going forward." — President Bush, June 6.

BUSH (in the Oval Office with his top aides): OK, we're agreed. We strip Michael Moore's citizenship, label him an "enemy combatant," and let him enjoy the free health care at Guantanamo Bay. Next issue: The process for Scooter Libby's pardon. How we gonna do this?

DICK CHENEY: Just do it, sir. Do it now. Right now! To hell with anyone who complains. Just sign this paperwork and it's done. (He hands Bush a document.)

BUSH: This says, "Presidential Authorization to Attack Iran with Nuclear Weapons."

CHENEY: Oh, sorry. (He hands Bush another document.)

BUSH (confused): This says, "Resignation Letter of George W. Bush."

CHENEY (laughing nervously): Ha! Just a little joke, sir.

JOSH BOLTEN: As White House chief of staff, I recommend that we announce Scooter's pardon on a Friday afternoon in August. Bury the decision in the weekend papers in the middle of summer.

TONY SNOW: That's not a bad idea, Josh. Unfortunately, the press office has already reserved every Friday afternoon through January, 2009, for other controversial announcements. We need more Fridays! (Everyone laughs.)

BUSH: Can I issue an executive order? To create an eight-day week? With two Fridays? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday? (Nothing is heard but the sound of crickets.)

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BUSH: Anyway, I'd like to pardon Scooter and award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the same time. (The president walks across the room, opens a closet, and thousands of medals spill onto the floor.) I sure love giving these things out!

CHENEY: We could try to deflect criticism by using the "no underlying crime" defense. Of course, Republicans impeached President Clinton for the same thing: lying to investigators.

BUSH: How about I sign an executive order that makes lying a good thing? And telling the truth a bad thing? Then Scooter's conviction would have to be overturned!

BOLTEN (amused): Well, that would definitely solve most of our problems. Too bad we can't actually do it.

BUSH (surprised): Whaddya mean?

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SNOW (shifting the discussion): So, what should we do about the Justice Department policy? That pardon applications can't be considered until at least five years after a conviction? And the applicant must accept responsibility and show remorse?

BUSH: I've got it! We'll say that because the Justice Department is such a mess of scandal and incompetence, and because Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has become a total joke, we've replaced all of Justice's corrupt policies with new, untainted ones. (Everyone sits in stunned silence.)

BUSH: What'd I say? Seriously, what'd I say?

BOLTEN (shaking his head): Nothing, sir, nothing.

GONZALES (who has been sitting next to Bush): Would you all please stop talking as if I'm not here?

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CHENEY (feigning concern): Hey, has anyone seen the attorney general today? Because I haven't. I sure hope he's all right.

(All except Gonzales laugh uproariously.)

SNOW: Hey, why not pardon Scooter at the same time as that Thanksgiving turkey, in November? So it's, like, a sidebar?

BUSH: I like that! Get the vegetarians on our side, too. But does it mean that Scooter has to spend the rest of his life at a petting zoo? With the turkey?

CHENEY (handing Bush the resignation letter): Just sign this document and I'll take care of everything, Mr. President.

BUSH (while signing): Thanks, Dick. You the man!

CHENEY (darkly): I am now, sir. I am now.

Bill Shein still respects the rule of law. What's left of it, at least.

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SNOW: Hey, why not pardon Scooter at the same time as that Thanksgiving turkey, in November? So it's, like, a sidebar?


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