April 2004 (v6 i5)
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Bush to send First Lady on lunar mission
"Bang! Zoom! To the moon, Laura!" exclaims flustered president
by Ryan B. Martinez, Associate Editor

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three months after disclosing his plans for a manned lunar mission, President Bush stunned the nation Tuesday when he belligerently announced that First Lady Laura Bush will be the first and only American to make the trip.

The announcement came just minutes after a reported quarrel between the president and his wife about his mother-in-law's frequent visits to the White House.

"That's it. I've had it, Laura," Bush said, while the First Lady stood, cross-armed and scowling, at the opposite end of the press room. "You always stick up for her. When she talks about your old boyfriends, when she makes fun of my weight. The woman is a blabbermouth, and you're startin' to turn out just like her."

The president began to wring his cap in his hands, and his lips puckered and swelled as he grew more frustrated.

"That's why I've decided to make you the sole astronaut in a whole new kind of space mission, little missy," he said. "You ain't going in no shuttle, Laura!"

After shouting the addendum to his space plans, the president suddenly took a step back from the podium for a mock-demonstration.

"Bang! Zoom! To the moon, Laura!" he exclaimed, simulating with his hands the abrupt launch and swift transit of a fist-impelled astronaut.

The announcement marks a change in the plan that Bush first revealed in January. While that proposal included the establishment of a settlement on Earth's only natural satellite, the new initiative posits the moon as a disposal site for the First Lady.

The change immediately sparked criticism from the scientific community.

"If we use the moon for any purpose, it should be for enabling further space exploration," said physicist James Van Allen. "Granted, I think everyone has wanted to give the First Lady a mean upper-cut through the stratosphere at least once in his lifetime, but that doesn't mean we should waste our resources on such base, though justified, desires."

While the new plan inspired criticism, it also quieted a widespread complaint about the excessive financial cost of realizing Bush's previous space plan.

"Our previous plan would have cost billions of taxpayer dollars," said Treasury Secretary John Snow. "But this plan doesn't require a shuttle. Hell, it doesn't even require a trip back to Earth. The only things it requires are Mr. Bush's fist and Mrs. Bush's notoriously bad bobbing-and-weaving skills."

Snow added: "And I think we can count on Laura's footwork to be as slow as her mouth-work is fast, that know-it-all."

The announcement has also brought national attention to the state of the president's marital relationship with his wife. The now-infamous press conference came one week after a reported blow-out that threatened to end their marriage. The president flew into a jealous rage when Laura and Second Lady Lynne Cheney enrolled in dance classes with a handsome mambo instructor, said an unnamed source close to the White House.

"It was a farcical series of misunderstandings," the source said. "It was full of grandstanding, ultimatums and threats, but in the end they both patched things up and embraced. George kissed Laura on the nose, and said, 'Baby, you're the greatest.'"

There was no indication of a happy ending at Tuesday's press conference, where the First Lady mocked the president for his inability to follow through on his elaborate schemes. "So you're going to include me in your little space program, huh?" said the First Lady.

"Who's going to help you organize that - your pal Dick Cheney? You two oafs couldn't operate an orange juice stand."

Unimpressed, the president merely pointed at her and shook his fist.

"You're a riot, Laura. You're a regular riot," Bush said. "I hope they like those jokes on the moon, 'cause that's where you're going."
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