I think a lot of people are looking back with a little — with more fondness on President Bush’s administration, and I think history will treat him well.
— John Cornyn on Decision Points
When George W. Bush discovered thecobrasnake.com it was an epiphany. He had never seen anything like it. Who were all these people? What were they doing? What kind of clothes were they wearing? Most importantly, why were they so happy? He surmised they must all be on drugs. Either way, he couldn’t stop clicking. After awhile, there was no clicking. His ears went dead. The computer screen blurred. The photos exploded into thousands of colorful pixels before melting back into sweaty young girls and twentysomething guys with mustaches and headbands. He wanted to stop but he couldn’t. One picture led to the next and then to another. Hours evaporated like minutes. It reminded him of being on Mescalin.
For years he’d been trolling his daughters’ email accounts. It was a practice he referred to (in his own mind) as “parenting from afar.” Usually he read their correspondence and ate a bag of Pop Secret. He laughed at the animated .gifs and cried anytime there was a poignant email forward involving baby animals and famous quotes about how life is too short to sweat the small stuff. He pored over the soap operas that played out among Jenna and Barbara’s friends, Googling terms like LOL, OMG, and BFF with increasing frequency. He wanted to keep crib notes for reference, but feared Laura would find them tucked in the inside pocket of his suit coat, then smack him in the back of the head. He also had more pressing matters to worry about. For example, this job was nowhere near as cool as he had imagined. And his dad had recently taken to leaving hateful voicemails on his personal cellphone again.
On that night in November of 2006, however, one email in Jenna’s inbox stood out. It was titled “Check out the slutbag,” and when he opened it, there was a single link. He followed it to a photograph that showed a strange-looking girl wearing red shoes and denim overalls. He wondered if she was handicapped. Next to her was a familiar girl dressed in all black, a small fedora on her head. Did he know her? He clicked around some more, found another photo and another. Then he realized, That’s Maggie Peyton from Herbie Reloaded!
Only he would identify the young Hollywood starlet in such fashion. To him Lindsay Lohan was Maggie Peyton, not the other way around. He loved that movie. Laura was consistently amazed at his poor taste in films. She said if only his critics knew that he didn’t sit around watching Clint Eastwood films all day he would be even more of a laughing stock, if that were possible.
She sounds like Dad, he always thought. Neither of them ever imparted a kind word. He wished he could wiggle his nose and disappear, like Samantha from Bewitched.
Oh well. It didn’t matter. Only two more years left in his sentence. Sometimes he wanted to pardon himself, get out of the job early. Though he wasn’t positive that idea even made sense. Either way, it would all be over soon. Then he could get back to clearing brush and shooting beer bottles in Crawford. He secretly loved those t-shirts and bumper stickers that read: 01.20.09 End Of An Error. If he had a shed at the White House, he’d hang one of those stickers above his tool bench, point it out to friends when they stopped over. Except no friends stopped over, ever. He once considered inviting Kris Kristofferson to the White House for a beer (he loved the film “Convoy”). But he knew Kristofferson would laugh his ass off the moment the service staff walked in with an iced-down bucket of O’Doul’s.
What a fucking disaster, he thought.
Being drug and alcohol free, it turned out, was good for his presidential bid, but bad for what he often referred to as his “fun factor.” Sobriety was a burden. It’d been the reason he choked on that goddamn pretzel that the Internet won’t forget. Snacks replaced the booze. Way back when he would have handled his boredom or anxiety with a Quaalude and a beer. Problem solved. Not anymore. Without a small bag of Quinlan’s or Gummi Bears within reach, he got all jittery. Even his faith in Jesus couldn’t shake his frequent desire to chop up a rail of coke and snort it off the blade of a knife. It used to make his brain go numb and catch his fingertips on fire. It was amazing. He felt closer to god back then.
More than anything, he missed the good ol’ days.