Secret War Hero

Bush/Cheney 2004
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

As someone who has followed your career with great interest, I find myself distressed at the questions raised regarding your distinguished service with the Texas and Alabama Air National Guards during the Vietnam War. Clearly, your enemies are intent on portraying you as a malingerer who used his father's political connections to avoid combat in Southeast Asia. And they're doing this just as you're about to square off against a genuine war hero!

Since you have so far failed to answer these charges—or provide any convincing documentation regarding your whereabouts from May 1972 to October 1973—it is now incumbent on you—being the incumbent—to hold a special press conference. I know Dick Cheney usually puts all the words in your mouth, but it is of the utmost importance that this time you follow my script, which provides a nice balance of folksy and ominous:

"My fellow Americans, I'd like to tell you where I was from May 1972 to October 1973, but I can't—because it's a secret. In fact, it's what we in Texas and Alabama call [SQUINT REAL HARD] 'classified.' I can't say any more—or answer any of your questions—because then I'd have to kill you all." [SMIRK. PAUSE. EXIT ROOM.]

It's well-documented that the Alabama National Guard had a historic role in spying—or did you forget a little something we like to call the Bay of Pigs invasion? Many people may find it difficult to believe you were involved in covert operations. But you've already established the perfect cover: Who is to say those gaps in your pay stubs and time sheets can't be explained away by gently hinting there were a number of trained pilots who would go off the public clock for one government agency and then go on the clock for a secret government or quasi-government agency?

Witnesses say that when you showed up on break from the Guard to help run the U.S. Senate campaign of your daddy's friend in Alabama, you were loud, obnoxious and all Texasy. But anyone who reads spy novels or watches 24 knows spooks often make a showy entrance in one place so they'll get noticed, and then slip out the back door to perform their real duty. While he was killing communist spies in Eastern Europe, Chuck Barris was running The Gong Show. In Texas and Alabama, I believe they call that "sheep-dipping."

Fortunately for you, between May 1972 to October 1973, there were a whole host of no-longer-secret recon missions and unreported carpet-bombings you could have flown. The barest hint at these could easily explain your absence from the Alabama Air National Guard:

•On Sept. 21, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines and took over the archipelago for the next decade or so. CIA agents were involved.

•Couldn't that have been you behind the mirrored shades flying kilos of heroin out of Laos to pay for the CIA's secret war against the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese Army? If Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. were flying for Air America, who's to say you weren't riding shotgun?

•On Sept. 11, 1973, didn't you score a direct hit on Salvador Allende's presidential suite, thus ensuring Chile's swift and peaceful transition from socialism to democracy? Why was the Texas Air National Guard involved in Chile? They eat a lot of chili in Texas.

Since names of U.S. operatives are still classified—except for those whom your staff choose to leak to conservative columnists—maybe you'd prefer to have the stories leak out in some disreputable left-wing newspaper. Then you could deny everything, which patriotic Americans would correctly interpret as a sign that you weren't actually just playing golf or helping your daddy's friend get elected to the senate or licking meth off a stripper's bare chest. Better yet, don't deny anything; Brit Hume will do it for you.

As always, your loyal and humble servant,

—Nick Schou


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