Message From Mahmoud! Dear President Bush: We’ve Got Lots In Common

F rom the A.P., May 8, 2006: “Iran’s leader has written to President Bush, in the first letter from an Iranian head of state to an American President in 27 years, a government spokesman said Monday. “In the letter, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposes ‘new solutions for getting out of international problems.’”

Dear President Bush:

Long time, no talk. What has it been, 27 years? To some, an eternity. But for those of us who look back fondly on the golden age of the caliphate—632 to 1517, give or take a few decades—it is truly nothing. A glitch. A blip. A hiccup. A mere blink of an eye in the grand sweep of history.

Yes, I know. It’s nobody’s fault. We’ve both been busy. Too busy to write, or even call—what with raising families, waging war, and generally fighting off the infidels who would undermine our authority.

I don’t have to tell you, George: It’s lonely at the top, no matter where you are.

But as we both know, somebody’s got to be the decider.

Which is why the real truth here is that, for all our differences, we actually have lots in common, and many points of mutual interest.

Call me crazy, but:

—You’re a former oilman. I sit on one of the world’s great reserves of crude. Coincidence? I think not!

—You claim to speak directly with your all-knowing God, who you believe blesses your actions and guides your hand. Funny thing: Me too! I have the same conversations with my God. Five times a day!

—You pay lip service to the “high moral ideals” of the U.N., but, in fact, really believe that it’s a corrupt and toothless debating society, whose resolutions you’re more than willing to ignore when you decide it’s in your own best interests to “go it alone.” Again, funny thing: Me too!

—You work day and night like a dog—shaking hands at meet-and-greets, posing for photo ops and delivering endlessly calculated speeches—all designed to solidify your political base, keep the disbelievers in line, and appease the demands of your more outspoken (and vaguely lunatic) co-religionists. Once again, funny thing: Me too!

—And then there are the similarities of our college years: While you were knocking ’em back at Yale keg parties, I was storming the American Embassy, taking hostages. Ah! The follies of our youth! Such indiscretions! What a way to pick up chicks! Fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?

In any case, Georgie, I think you can see where I’m going with all this: You’re down in the polls, facing impeachment if the midterm elections don’t go your way; I’m looking at millions of unemployed twentysomethings who don’t want nukes so much as they want their MTV. So, in short, we need each other. We can help each other. We can use each other. And here’s what I’m proposing:

1) Let’s both sign up for personal home pages at MySpace.Com and link our profiles to each other. It’s young. It’s fresh. It’s hip. And the way things are going in this world, I’m likely to be your first, and only, friend. It’s not much, but it’s definitely a start.

2) Keep Tom Cruise employed. I don’t know about you, but to me, TomKat seemed increasingly unhinged, even before the M:I:III box-office figures were released. He’s not quite Michael Jackson yet …. But the last thing I need is another crazed celebrity moving into the neighborhood. So do me a favor: Call Rupert at Fox and see if you can get him a role in the next Mel Gibson movie.

3) Get the hell out of Iraq. Now.

4) Would you mind looking the other way while we wipe Israel off the map?

Obviously, these are only a few of the ways we can begin to help each other and lessen world tensions. Here are a few more:

1) Prison Swap. I’ll take Guantánamo, you get Tehran Super Max. But first let’s lock up all the journalists. Deal?

2) Mutual Disarmament. Here’s the trade: We give up the nukes in return for Cheney giving up his guns. Truly, given the record so far, I think you’ll agree the world will be a much safer place. As they say in your New Jersey: Am I right, or what?

3) Fox News. I’ve gotta be honest: I love O’Reilly, but Sean Hannity drives me wild. Can you do something about this? And so far as Roger Ailes goes, he’s some piece of manpower. I wish I had 10 of ’em. You’ve already got Tony Snow. Can you spare Ailes for a few months?

4) The Internet. Let’s face it, George: We’ve both got trouble with bloggers and anti-administration Web sites. Let’s tell Google and Yahoo we want their names, addresses and home phone numbers—now. Is there any reason we should be treated with less respect than China? I think not.

5) The Name Game. Let’s cool the rhetoric, O.K.? You stop calling us evil, we’ll stop calling you the Great Satan. Why? Because it really, really hurts our feelings. Enough said? Good. Done.

6) Again, I just have to ask: Would you mind looking the other way while we wipe Israel off the map?

Finally, here are a few cultural exchanges we should consider.

1) The mullahs want iPods. I’m thinkin’ about the swag bags at the next Assembly of Experts after-party. Can you get back to me on this, ASAP? Trust me, you truly don’t want to get these guys riled up. They really wouldn’t rather have a Dell.

2) I’d like a spot on the Vanity Fair “New Establishment” power list. Somewhere between, say, eBay’s Meg Whitman and Brian Grazer. Powerful and respected, but with room to rise. (And believe me: I don’t want to take a slot from Diller, Redstone or Murdoch. Even without nukes, those guys scare the bejesus out of me.)

3) I’d also like two tickets to The Da Vinci Code premiere at Cannes. You know that every single word of it is true, don’t you?

4) One last time. Really. Seriously. Would you mind looking the other way while we wipe Israel off the map?

So there you have it. I think you’ll agree—there’s a lot to talk about here, George. Lots of room to find common ground. I’m thinkin’ Nobel Peace Prizes; I’m thinkin’ the cover of Time; I’m thinkin’ that if we pull this off, we can go after the real enemy for the next century: the godless Chinese.

So send me a postcard, drop me a line, Instant Message me. Because, fundamentally, we both know there is only one universal truth: The main challenge of having power is staying in power.

Your friend,

Mahmoud