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Presidential pretzel pratfall raises doubts 1/16

January 17, 2002

Presidential pretzel pratfall raises doubts 1/16



OK, so how many guys opened up their lunch buckets yesterday, saw a bag of pretzels and thought "Uh-oh, I think she's trying to kill me."

We all knew snack foods were bad for you, but until the episode of the First Pretzel we had no idea. So does this mean Bush is an evilchewer?

Like the CSI team, let's go over the evidence.

President Bush sitting alone with his dogs. Watching football. Eats Pretzel. Swallows wrong. Pretzel hits a nerve. Causing heart to slow abnormally. Faints. Pitches into the coffee table. Knocks glasses into cheekbone, causing blunt force trauma on face and lip. Wakes up. Knew he hadn't been out long because "the dogs were looking at me funny." Dials 911. Gets checkup. Everything peachy.

Upon listening patiently to this litany, I don't know anyone who didn't have this reaction: "What kind of cockamamie story is that? No, come on, tell us what really happened."

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This just shows one more area where George (and the W is for Whopper) Bush fails to live up to former President Bill Clinton. He just can't lie properly. Clinton was an artist. He would have woven a tale so sly and so slick it would have seemed not just plausible, but probable. Playing racquetball with an Arkansas state trooper, or maybe up at 2 a.m. discussing international policy ramifications with Greg Norman.

I have no trouble believing Bush was watching football and eating pretzels. It's got a homespun, Gerry Ford quality to it that I like. I have no trouble believing that he was alone, with the Secret Service off guarding Dick Cheney.

But a pretzel hitting a nerve that slowed the heart that caused a faint that caused a half-gainer off the couch that knocked off the glasses that caused the shiner? Sounds more like a game of Mouse Trap.

A pretzel striking a nerve is too much for me. What were these pretzels made of? Was he eating the new Lay's Titanium Pretzel? New corporate motto: "No one can choke on just one."

Doctors say they have an actual name for this episode, a "vasovagal syncope." Oh please. It sounds so made-up, like "Captain Kangaroo" or "Condolaezza Rice."

Of course as a highly trained athlete myself, I know that exercise causes a person to have a low resting heart rate that can cause dizziness if you get up too fast. But I thought running was supposed to make you healthier, not sicker than the devil. That seals it. I'm quitting the health club. I mean, Drew Carey has had his problems, but at least he's never died of a snack attack.

There was a moral to all this, and for Bush it was "Mom always told me to chew my pretzels." So you should always listen to your mother."

This is another facet of the story I find utterly ridiculous. I got supertanker loads of advice as a kid, but somehow the pretzel chewing paradigm never came up. On the other hand, this implication by extension that if you don't wash behind your ears you may choke is disturbing to say the least.

So what's the answer? Isn't it obvious? Congressional investigation.

Congress can't see a yawning school-crossing guard without wanting to investigate, so I'm sure they will want to look into this one. And quickly, too. Every second we delay gives the administration more time to shred potato chips. Is there a smoking pretzel? Does it depend on what your definition of snack food is? Who let the dogs in? What did the dogs know and when did they know it? Call Babs to the stand. Did you really tell the boy to chew? If so, is there written documentation? Why do pretzel bags not come with warnings? Back the president into a corner, forcing him to say on tape "I did have gastronomical relations with that pretzel."

No one understood Riady, so Clinton got nailed on sex. No one understands Enron, but everyone has snacked in front of a football game. This ought to be something Congress and the public can really sink their teeth into.

I hope they remember to chew.

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