The US president, George Bush, made his first visit to Baghdad’s green zone today, in a trip so secret even the new Iraqi prime minister was kept in the dark. Nuri al-Maliki was not told that Mr. Bush was in the country until five minutes before they met. — the Guardian, June 13
(Bush walks up Maliki’s sidewalk, knocks on door. Iraqi guy opens it.)
Bush: Nuri here?
Iraqi guy (flustered, searching for correct English): Al-Maliki, he . . . Wait, please.
(Iraqi guy walks inside, knocks on door. Sounds of whispered conversation, toilet flushing. Iraqi guy comes back and ushers Bush into antechamber, where Maliki is sitting.)
Bush: SURPRISE! You didn’t know I was coming!
(Two Secret Service agents enter the room, deposit balloons and a Friendly’s ice-cream cake, and quickly exit.)
Maliki (frazzled but gracious, nervously smoothing out suit): Mr. President, it is an honor. Welcome to Iraq.
(Maliki steps toward Bush and opens arms to embrace him. Bush does the same, but suddenly enters boxing crouch and mimes uppercut to Maliki’s jaw.)
Bush: Ah-ah-ah! Easy there, N-Dog. Handshake’s just fine.
(Bush reaches out for a handshake; Maliki follows suit. When the two clasp hands, a loud noise follows. Maliki pulls his hand away, startled; Bush turns palm upward to reveal a joy buzzer.)
Bush (chortling): Another surprise!
(Awkward silence. Bush looks around room. Maliki isn’t sure what to do. Bush glances at his host.)
Maliki (looking helplessly toward Iraqi guy, who looks helplessly back): Eks . . . what?
Bush (growing frustrated, pointing toward own genitals): XYZ.
(Maliki looks down, notices his unzipped fly, and pulls it up, blushing. Another uncomfortable silence. Iraqi guy leaves room.)
Maliki (gestures toward Bush’s chair): Please, Mr. Bush . . .
(They sit. Bush pulls his chair toward Maliki’s.)
Bush (gravely): Now, Nuri, I didn’t come all this way just to bust your chops. You’re doing a great job here. The government looks like Iraq, if you know what I mean. And Zarqawi! Should be smooth sailing with that sumbitch outta your hair. And I just wanted to — need to tell you that. You know, look you in the eye.
(Bush extends hand toward Maliki, who cringes slightly. Bush rests hand on Maliki’s shoulder.)
Bush (gazing intently at Maliki): You can tell a lot about a man by looking in his eyes.
(Maliki looks away, shifts uncomfortably. Iraqi guy returns carrying a tray of coffee and indigenous sweets.)
Bush (removes hand from Maliki’s shoulder, wipes it on pants leg and stands up): Now, N-Force, don’t trouble yourself on my account. Seeing some soldiers from the great state of Texas in a minute; got to know we appreciate their service. But you’re doing great! And, you know: America keeps its word. No cut-and-run here.
(Loud honk outside.)
Bush: That’s my ride! Thanks for the hospitality, boys.
(Bush opens arms to embrace Maliki. When Maliki does the same, Bush drops into boxing crouch, fake-punches Maliki’s stomach, wags finger reprovingly.)
Bush (tauntingly): Ah-ah-ah! Nuri, what’d I tell you?
(Bush exits, walks to the road, and climbs into a camouflage armored Humvee, which peels out and speeds away. Iraqi guy looks quizzically at Maliki. Maliki shrugs. In the distance, a bomb goes off.)