Memo to George

Operation Hide Dick is working like a charm.

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October 12, 2001

INTEROFFICE MEMO

To: The President
From: Andrew H. Card Jr., Chief of Staff
Re: Covering Our Dick
cc: Karl, Karen

***BIG-TIME CONFIDENTIAL***

Mr. President:

I’m still reeling. I mean, was that a press conference last night, or was it the lightning round on celebrity “Jeopardy”? You were in such a zone that I was fully expecting Wolf Blitzer to leap up and ask you to name the capital of Turkmenistan, to which you’d casually reply, “What is Ashgabat? Now give me something tough, Beard Boy.”

But the question on the mind of every coffee-breathed, carpal-tunneled hack from the Punxsutawney Post to the Tripoli Tribune still remains: Where’s Dick? And while you did a bang-up job “welcoming the vice president back” — and while we’ve limited his public appearances to Friday’s chat with Jim Lehrer (aka, the Sominex Hour: That show makes Charlie Rose look like a NASCAR event), we need to return to Plan A as quickly as possible — namely, letting the Vice President continue to play sous chef to your Wolfgang Puck, keeping him in the kitchen while you stay out front with your satisfied customers.

The problem is: We’re running out of “undisclosed secure locations.” We can’t send Mr. C back to Camp D — the guy’s getting major league cabin fever up there (he doesn’t bowl, for God’s sake!) — and Bethesda Naval was always a lousy idea (thanks for nothing, Ari). After all, if the veep gets within 25 yards of an ICU, an alarm goes off in Bob Woodward’s butt. Besides, Dick says the food there stinks.

So, the question remains: How do we keep the vice president close enough to be your third-base coach, but far enough away to let America marvel at that sweet swing of yours? Some suggestions:

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BOCA RATON: Just got off the phone with your brother (Don’t worry — we used the supersecret line in the Blue Room crapper) and Jeb assures us he’s got a nice little “safe-house condo” a block from the beach, just in case Dick wants to take a quick dip between bombing runs. (Think he wears a Speedo? Eeww.) We figure we can keep him down there for at least a week. In fact, Jeb says Katherine Harris is itching to drop by to offer Dick her insights on Afghani women. (Priceless! Now there’s a dame who could truly use a veil.) As for the media snooping around, forget about it. Ever since the new Florida problem popped up (as opposed to the old Florida problem), I haven’t seen a single reporter south of Savannah.

SAN FRANCISCO: Yes, I know — it’s a high-profile city with tons of ports of entry (wink, wink). But, just the same, Karl guarantees us that nobody — but nobody — is going to be looking for Dick Cheney in the Castro. As far as a safe house is concerned, Dick’s daughter has two friends (Chris and Pat) who’ve agreed to let the vice president use the spare bedroom in their loft. The only thing they require is that we outfit the veep in black jeans, a muscle tee and a studded dog collar (they swear to us that this is for security purposes — it’ll help him blend with the locals). As for activities during this extended by-the-bay getaway, word has it that Frisco’s favorite son — and newly crowned HR king — Barry Bonds is eager to parlay his sudden celebrity into a high post on our war effort. I think this is a splendid idea. His sport is the American Pastime, after all, and I’d be hard-pressed to find an image more likely to scare the turbans off the Taliban than a big black dude with a baseball bat. If only he played for the Rangers.

ICELAND: The ultimate safe house. Too remote for skinflint journalists, too cold for our desert-dwelling enemy and, strategically, not exactly Omaha Beach. Karen’s got a friend who’s lending us a 2BR igloo for Dick in downtown Reykjavik, just a snowball’s throw from the Wendy’s. It’s the perfect hideaway — close enough for our high-tech video linkups to work (the only satellite interference they get is an occasional lost goose), but still so obscure that practically no one knows where it is. (Yours truly just found out Tuesday that Iceland is not, in fact, Greenland.) As for diplomatic activities, we’ve arranged for a three-hour powwow with Prime Minister David (“Has Anyone Ever Heard of Me?”) Doddsson, who’s eager to tell Mr. C just how Iceland plans to lend a hand to the coalition (Like what? Fling Eskimo Pies?). Only problem with this ingenious locale: It’s well known that the Icelandic women are — how shall I put this? — hot enough to thaw out Martha Stewart’s panty drawer. And they’re “friendly,” too. That means Lynne — and Dick’s cardiologist — will not be pleased. But hey, like you said last night, we all have to make sacrifices during wartime.

Call me.

Andy

P.S. Beautiful touch, by the way, asking kids across America to send you $1 each for Afghan relief. A real tear-jerker. But, boy oh boy, who are we going to get to stack up all them singles when the postman hauls them through the front portico? Oh, well, Al Gore did say you were his commander.

Bruce Kluger is a columnist for Us Weekly magazine.

David Slavin is an actor and voice-over artist.

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