Bush, make us love you again

Posted: Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's not too late, President Bush. Sure, your approval ratings are lower than Richard Nixon's when he resigned, but you have six weeks to make this country love you again. The unnecessary wars, the curtailing of civil liberties, the economic collapse - all can be forgiven. Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a bat and Americans embraced him after just a few weeks of his reality TV show.

So come out from wherever you're hiding and waiting for all this to end, and take some actions that might still save you from the trash heap of history.

• Have a baby: Any magazine that's not in financial trouble has a pregnant celebrity on its cover. Laura did just turn 62, but I see women who look a lot older than her taking pre-natal yoga classes in Hollywood all the time. You might need to rethink the whole stem cell thing, but remember, pre-bailout you were pro-capitalism. Things change.

• Isolate and neg: To get this down, you might have to watch a few episodes of VH1's reality show, "The Pick Up Artist." The idea is that you can charm anyone by getting her alone and then ever-so-slightly insulting her, thereby making her wonder if she's good enough for you. I'm thinking you make a YouTube video where you wear a funny hat and medallion, make a quick joke about America's adjustable-rate mortgage problem, and then walk off to talk to a hot chick in the background. The nation will be left thinking, "Who was that George W. Bush? I thought he was a blundering idiot, but he's actually really intriguing."

• Throw a party: If I lived for eight years in a house I rented with no deposit, I'd have a high school reunion for all my Marlboro-puffing New Jersey friends. Andrew Jackson invited the public to his inauguration party, and that dude got on the $20. Book Ludacris and T-Pain, and dub the Lincoln Bedroom the Lincoln and Cocaine Bedroom. You'll kick Grant off the $50.

• Dance with the stars: You think anyone loved Brooke Burke six weeks ago? She couldn't even keep a job on E! Practice hard and out-mambo Tara Reid and Plaxico Burress, and people will line up at your presidential library to get a glimpse of your ruffled pants.

• More face time with Obama: People love this guy. When you invited him over and said you'd make the transition easy, you seemed patriotic and friendly but also, more important, like a guy who knows Barack Obama. It's a big White House, so how about six weeks of sleep-over parties? Take him to meetings, play some basketball, plot a prank on Dick Cheney - maybe one that involves a gun loaded with blanks and the shot-in-the-face guy. For at least six weeks, you'll be the beloved Obama sidekick. If it made Joe Biden likable, it will work for anyone.

• Take credit for low gas prices: While I was running for co-president of Stanford's student council, football coach Bill Walsh was giving out seats on the 50-yard line to students. So my running mates and I said we'd persuaded him to do it - and Walsh went along. So you're friends with some of those Saudi royals, right? Have one complain that you got him to cut oil prices by 70 percent. Better yet, have the king say it's all because of your brilliant strategy on Iraq. At this point, blood for oil would at least be something for blood.

• Adopt a puppy from the shelter: It's beyond me why you didn't do this the moment the Iraq war went bad. If you're on TV with the cockerdoodle puppy you pardoned from death in some dog pound, Brian Williams can blather on about Muqtada al-Sadr all he wants but no one will hear a word because they'll be staring at the adorable puppy. Make sure the media pool gets lots of B-roll of said puppy looking sad in a cage to run against shots of you and Sparky rolling around together in the Rose Garden.

• Buy us flowers: That stimulus check you sent us last summer? If felt like cab fare after a bad date. Tacky, dude, tacky. But a big bouquet can start the forgiveness process. Yes, 300 million orders of gerbera daisies aren't going to be cheap, but U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson seems to have $350 billion he doesn't know what to do with. Plus, you'll earn dividends on speaking fees. Can't you picture Disney's Bob Iger thinking to himself, "Should we hire Bush or Bill Clinton as our keynote? Clinton is smarter and more well-liked, but Bush did send us those nice flowers."

• Joel Stein is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.



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