AS tight as APEC security has been this week, I managed to smuggle a tiny but powerful microphone into the room where George Bush met Kevin Rudd last Thursday. The following is an exclusive transcript of the conversation which took place:
Howdy pardner . . . did you know I’m a meat guy?
Yes Mr President, I saw the press conference.
Well aah’ve been watching a few re-runs of your own press conferences buddy and it seems to me you’re a bit of meat guy yourself.
Don’t play innocent with me young fella, you like a piece of flesh as much as the rest of us red-blooded types. I laughed so much when I heard about you in New York that I choked on my corn chips.
Oh, I see. But it wasn’t quite like …
I’ve got a new name for you boy … “Man of Veal”. That fits don’t you think?
They look prettier when they’re young. Just ask that tennis champ of yours Mark Phillipoos . … or whatever his name is. He had a choice between lamb and mutton on that reality TV show of his and we all know what dish he went for. Waddaya reckon?
Well, I reckon you could hardly call Mark Philippoussis a tennis champ.
I love reality television … it’s like … it’s real or something.
Yes, well …
And I loved your “too drunk to remember” excuse. I should start using that one when people ask me why we invaded Iraq. No one would doubt me.
Yes, about Iraq Mr President. I think …
And pole dancing? Why go to New York to see that when you have Alexander Downer right here Down Under?
Mr Bush, could we talk about Iraq?
Hey, Downer in Down Under … “Down under Downer” … I think I just made a joke.
Yes, very funny Mr President.
I’m a funny guy.
Everybody says so. Do you think I’m funny?
You are amusing.
I think I’m funny. I hope that’s what they put on my tombstone — “He made America laugh”. That would be a good legacy.
Not just America, Mr President. How about: “He had the world in stitches”?
Are you making fun of me boy? What’s this stitches crap you’re saying? You trying to stitch me up or something?
No Mr President — stitches. It means laughing so much you get a stitch in your side.
Well I’ll be a thorn in your side if you ever try and take me on, pal.
Yeah, you had better show me some respect. I’m the President of the US of A and the A stands for Australia as far as you’re concerned.
Hey, lighten up buddy. I’m just stitchin’ with ya.
Although young Johnny Howard took me seriously when I said the same thing to him all those years back and he agreed with me. I never had the heart to tell him I was just joking and that the “A” actually stands for “America”. So I just let him believe America and Australia means the same thing anyway and I think it has worked out well for all concerned. Don’t you?
Well actually …
And why is it that Johnny doesn’t know when I’m joking and when I’m not? He has a sense of humour doesn’t he?
Well, there are doubts about that.
He must have, we’re always laughing back at the ranch … I can’t remember what about though.
Now, about Iraq sir.
Yes, it’s about Iraq. We’re always laughing about that.
Mr Bush, I think …
You Aussies are funny people and I like that. You are an Aussie ain’t you? I heard you was Chinese. You’re not a commie are ya?
No sir, I’m a true blue Australian.
Can’t trust them Chinese you know. I can trust you can’t I son?
Yes sir, you can trust me with the future of the Australia-US alliance. That’s for sure.
But can I trust you to do what I say when I tell ya?
Well it depends on the issue and the circumstances.
It only depends on whether it’s the leader of the free world who’s giving you an order and if you’re willin’ to obey.
Australia is an independent sovereign State you know.
Australia is a US State! I thought I already made that clear!
You said you were joking.
I said I’m a funny guy … and I am. But it ain’t funny if I’m lookin’ at a dude who really believes he can run Australia without me.
No sir, it’s not like that. I know how important our nations are to each other.
You mean, you know how important my country is to the survival of your two-bit piece of desert.
Now I really must protest, Mr President.
Protest?! Are you one of those protesters? I can’t go anywhere without protesters in my face … and I’m a likeable guy.
No, I was saying that I took offence at how you described my country.
Offence, yes … now you’re talking. You should always go on the offence son. Offence before defence, that’s my motto. Bullets before ballots.
Well, we think differently on that point.
Hmm … bullets before ballots … did I just make another joke?
Actually, I think Bill Clinton has used that term in describing how some rogue nations operate.
Clinton?! Now why did you have to go and bring him up? And just when me and you was getting along so well. I hate that guy. He’s the one person Americans love more than me … if you don’t count Al Gore that is.
Well, Mr Clinton’s wife does want to replace you so I guess he will be in the news a lot at the moment.
That wife of his wouldn’t have a clue on how to run a country like America … she could probably handle ruling Australia though.
She’s doing well in the polls, sir. You may well be the Bush between two Clintons, just like Bill was the Clinton between two Bushes … Did I just make a joke?
Leave the wisecracks to me son … they take a certain kind of personality that I’m not quite sure you possess.
Well Kelvin, this has been a productive meeting.
It’s Kevin, sir.
I once knew a Kevin at Yale. I used to make him do my homework.
We have made progress today, don’t you think?
What about Iraq, climate change, China, North Korea?
I hear what you’re saying son and you can be assured that all those things are in good hands … good United States hands. You just toe the line and we’ll get along fine.
Now, what’s on the lunch menu? Hope it’s veal.
Lame duck, I believe.
First published First published in the West Australian.
Mr President? Don’t play innocent with me young fella, you like a piece of flesh as much as the rest of us red-blooded types. I laughed so much when I heard about you in New York that I choked on my corn chips.