Washington, DC (APE) – As presidential adviser Stephen Hadley suggested yesterday that Iraqi leadership had concluded with staring into the abyss of a sectarian civil war, rumors began to swirl that President Bush would be making a surprise detour to Baghdad from his Southeast Asian tour in order to instill confidence in both American troops and the fledgling Iraqi government. Observers noted that the president seemed to be very solemn in post service discussions with his pastor Rev. Luis Leon on Sunday, and some remarked about overhearing the issue of absolution brought up by the president.
As a very sedate President Bush boarded Air Force One this evening to begin the journey to South Asia, White House special adviser Karl Rove confessed to him that the planned diversion to Baghdad was an elaborate but loving practical joke concocted by staffers. The president laughed and admitted that they had him completely fooled.
“The president actually has a tremendous sense of humor,” stated White House spokesperson Scott McClellan. “Sometimes he can get overly serious, though, and become a little bogged down with the burden of leadership. At those times, even some of the most ridiculous premises can appear very believable, and that’s how we were able to be so successful with our little prank. We even had him believing that he would actually be visiting the ruins of the Golden Mosque in Samarra.”
Also taken in by the staff pranksters was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was seen throughout the weekend pleading with the president’s staffers to change the plans, or possibly even allow him to visit instead of the president at a later date. “The little sideshow with Secretary Rumsfeld was just icing on the cake,” said an anonymous staffer. “Honestly, these are intelligent men and all, but you have to wonder sometimes. I’m sure that the only reason that we were able to pull this off was because of the trust that they have in us. Heh… that would be like trying to hose down a pipeline oil fire with rocket fuel.”