TIRANA, Albania- George W. Bush was greeted with enthusiasm Sunday when he became the only foreign head of state in history to visit the Balkan nation of Albania.
For Bush’s several-hour visit, U.S. flags were draped over buildings in the capital of Tirana and a set of commemorative stamps were issued, in contrast to his trips following the G-8 summit meeting to Germany, Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic, where huge protests against him took place. Following his Albanian visits, Bush is to fly to Bulgaria, where more protests are anticipated.
Albania, a strong ally of Bush’s war on terror, has tripled its troop numbers in Afghanistan to 6 and has about 9 soldiers in Iraq.
Accompanied by Albanian President Alfred Moisiu, the two men rode to the capital in a flag-draped donkey cart which rattled over the broken streets of Tirana.
Barefoot troops armed with muskets marched alongside, and the procession was followed by a World War One Russian tank pulled by two oxen.
At the dilapidated National Palace, Bush gave a prepared speech, using a battery-operated megaphone, as the usual daily power failure was taking place.
With an aide holding the prepared speech before him, Bush read, ” I thank my Secretary of State, Connie Rice, for diligently searching, and finally finding the sole country on earth which appreciates my efforts to bring democracy on everyone or else!” The President glanced about with his trademark smirk. ” I thank ‘what’s-his-name, the president or king of this place, for his cordial reception, and assure him that we will supply him with millions of dollars worth of land mines and cluster bombs to protect him from a certain Commie country up north.” The President winked, ” You know who I mean!”
Although he had no interpreter who could translate English to Albanian, and had not the slightest idea idea what Bush said, Moisiu nodded in agreement. Bush handed him the megaphone, and Moisiu delivered his speech, which no one in the U.S. group could understand as they had no one who could translate Albanian to English.
After a state dinner of barbecued goat and camel milk, Moisiu accompanied the President back through the capital of Tirana to Air Force One, as Moisiu threw coins to the homeless street urchins running alongside.
Unable to communicate with each other, Bush gave a friendly cowboy poke in the ribs to Moisiu, and boarded Air Force One which made a frightening takeoff, avoiding the livestock, potholes, and cooking fires on the runway.
After taking a shower to remove the dust, feathers and insects, Bush summoned Press Secretary Tony Snow to his private quarters. ” Tony, that Bulgaria was a pretty sorry country, wasn’t it?”
“No Mr. President, we’re HEADED for Bulgaria. That was Albania……I think.”