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Americans Approve!  
But how does George W spend his day—besides the 11:20 a.m. Stairmaster session  

    March 19 —  The results of last week’s New York Times-CBS News poll gave us incontrovertible evidence that America loves George W. Bush—no matter how little work he does.  

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  The good news is that more than 60 percent of Americans approve of the job the new president is doing. The bad news is that 50 percent believe that “other people” are “in charge” of the “government” “most of the time.” Only 42 percent feel that “Bush” is “in charge” (you know, in the Al Haig sense).
        There are two conclusions that can be drawn from these “amazing” “results”:
        1. Bush’s approval rating will go up even higher if he stops working entirely.
        2. Half of America—probably the half that thinks Al Gore is actually president—thinks Bush isn’t running the country.
        I guess you can’t blame America for thinking that way. After all, didn’t Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, admit recently that his boss attended a mere five hours of meetings before unveiling his multi-trillion-dollar budget?
“If you think President Bush is not running the country, what do you think he’s doing with his time?”

       And remember when that crazed gunman opened fire on the White House last month? When the gunfire erupted, Bush was on the Stairmaster while Vice President Dick Cheney was in the West Wing taking care of business. The shooting was at 11:20 in the morning! That’s usually the time of day when a harried CEO is daydreaming about his afternoon lunch break, not sweating through his morning workout.
       Bottom line? Poll respondents were definitely influenced by the way Bush always appears so damned relaxed—except at those times when Vice President Cheney is on a gurney with another heart attack.
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       Journalistic standards being what they are at The Times, the paper failed to ask its poll respondents the all-important follow-up question: “If you think President Bush is not running the country, what do you think he’s doing with his time?” Fortunately, I have just received the results of my own investigation into how Bush is spending his days while those “other people” are running the “government.” Contrary to half of America’s impression, my report clearly shows that Bush is busy with important tasks throughout the day:
* He has to make frequent trips to the hardware store to cut extra sets of White House keys for lobbyists from the banking, credit card and coal-burning power plant industries.
* It takes a lot of time to calculate how many centuries worth of overseas family planning funds will equal the cost of a missile shield.
* He’s been busy of late drafting an entirely new criminal justice code based on the principal that all transgressions are forgivable if the perpetrator was “young and irresponsible” at the time of the crime, regardless of his age.
* Just the other day, he went to the White House kitchen only to find the refrigerator empty, except for a loaf of bread. He spent several hours wondering to himself, “What would Jesus do?” only to decide that he’s not Jesus and ordered in Chinese food.
* He’s been researching whether users of solar-and wind-power generators should face the federal death penalty on the grounds that it is a treasonous offense to create energy in America without producing pollutants.
* Yard work can be extremely time consuming, especially when your main chore is finishing fencing off that pasture where you’re going to put EPA Administrator Christie Whitman for the next four years.
* We all know Bush enjoys devising nicknames for legislators, but did you know that he spent four hours the other day trying to find a rhyme for “Daschle”? The next day, he got stuck for three hours on “Bayh” and “Inhofe.”
* Ever the prankster, Bush can spend hours a day calling up Al Gore, asking for “President Gore” and then quickly hanging up. He’s missed more than one meeting with oil industry lobbyists that way.
* The other day, Bush developed carpal tunnel syndrome in his index finger while figuring out the White House phone system. Rather than accept the condition as evidence that office workers can develop repetitive stress injuries, Bush amputated the finger with an Oval Office butter knife.
       Breaking News: We interrupt this insightful column to bring you a news break from Washington. President Bush has just ended his normal Friday afternoon meeting with Vice President Cheney an hour early and, apparently, is taking what we believe is called “a Friday slide.” We go now to NBC’s Lisa Myers at the White House. Lisa, what’s going on there?

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       Myers: Yes, you’re right Gersh, it appears that President Bush is going to get an early jump on the weekend. Moments ago, the president interrupted his meeting with the vice president and told him quote Let’s pick this up again on Monday, Dick endquote. The vice president quickly reminded Bush that they were discussing the normalization of relations with North Korea, a known nuclear power, but the president was said to persist, telling Vice President Cheney quote What? Are they going to set off the bomb in the next two hours, Dick? I mean, for Pete’s sake, it’s four o’clock here endquote. He then told the vice president to quote Go home and spend some time with the wife endquote whereupon the vice president reminded the president that his wife, Lynne Cheney, would, like most normal Americans, not be home from work until after 6 p.m. The president is reported to have told him quote Well, you do whatever you want with the North Koreans. I’m going fishing endquote.

Gersh Kuntzman is also a columnist for The New York Post and the author of “HAIR! Mankind’s Historic Quest to End Baldness” (Random House, April 2001). His email address is gershny@yahoo.com.

       © 2002 Newsweek, Inc.
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