The "frank exchange" translated

Published June 25, 2004 5:02PM (EDT)

When we hear a political conversation described as a "frank exchange of views," we think of two sober-minded individuals talking seriously to one another, making their best cases for their respective positions.

But when those words are used in the Bush White House, they apparently mean that somebody got an old fashion, Texas-style ass-chewin'. A spokesman for Dick Cheney told reporters Thursday that the vice president had just engaged in a "frank exchange of views" with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy. What he meant, it now seems, is that Cheney told Leahy to "fuck" himself.

This insight into the meaning of "frank exchange of views" sheds new light on all sorts of Bush-Cheney conversations from the past. Wonder why the Arab world has been so wary of the President's war on terror? Maybe it's because Cheney went to the Middle East in 2002 for what a senior administration official called a "frank exchange of views"with Arab leaders.

Puzzled by the lack of international support for the war on Iraq? Maybe it's because Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has had such a "frank exchange of views"with his counterparts from other nations.

Once you understand the code -- "frank exchange of views" = "go fuck youself" -- even the strange syntax of George W. Bush himself begins to make sense. Immediately after meeting with South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung in Seoul in 2002, Bush told reporters that their conversation had been "so good that we didn't want to go into the meeting room where there was more people." Now the reason seems clear: Before they stepped before the cameras, Bush said, the leaders had a "very frank exchange."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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