July 15, 2005: Untaping the diaper

In their endless search for the perfect accounting solution, the bean counters at STB,J! discovered a new class of airline fare: sub-Coach. Most people don't even know it exists, but it's there, tucked way at the back of the plane behind the last bank of toilets and the flight attendant's jump seat. Forty-two wooden bleacher seats compacted into three beautiful rows of frill-free transportation. It's 14 percent cheaper than regular Coach, but you get no meal or drink service, no in-flight movies, and you're not even allowed to use the Coach class toilets (most carriers offering sub-Coach service do provide Virtual Toilets [repurposed air sickness bags]). Fortunately, I brought my own reading light, so up until the point that I was overwhelmed by the jet fuel exhaust, I was able to spend some time reviewing the protocol guidelines prepared for me by the STB,J! Editorial Board ("The Board") with the regard to my current POTUS-related assignment.

A quest for cycling truth

The Statement of Purpose (SOP), using standard media-industry boilerplate, mandated journalistic integrity, professional decorum, and ratings-based partisan savagery. There was also something about me making a passing stab at the actual facts pertaining to Bush's ill-reported bicycling accident at the Gleneagles Resort in Scotland on July 6, 2005 (See July 7, 2005: Reverse-engineering for truth).

Also according to the SOP, I was not to:

  • Influence potential sources by volunteering baseless and non-sensical scenarios or prejudicial and deeply subjective perspectives as established fact.
  • Manufacture artificial pretexts for questioning the validity and credibility of the Iraq War.
  • Try to get inside Dubya's head by hitting the tasting room of every whiskey distillery from Islay to Aberdeen.
  • Purposely try to inflame Rumsfeld's already raging 'roids by comparing everything to Vietnam.
  • Conduct any deep background research in Amsterdam.

From the confines of my sub-Coach cubic of hardwood, The Board's "guidelines" felt didactic and stifling, and I couldn't help but feel that they didn't trust me. I vowed to show them, though I had no idea what I meant by that.

Upon landing in Glasgow, I was immediately on the beat. Right off the bat I noticed some irregularities in Scottish culture and society, irregularities that may or may not have contributed to Bush's crash.

First, though the Frommer's Guide that The Board had checked out of the library for me indicated that the language of Scotland is English, I was damned if I could figure out what the hell anybody was saying. Occasionally, I would pick out a word or two that sounded vaguely familiar, but for the most part, everything sounded like a cross between Tagalog and Afrikaans, looped through an audio scrambler. Might this communication barrier have contributed to a misunderstanding that led to the collision between Bush and the Scottish bobbie? Might it have not? STB,J! baby, asking the unasked.

Right-hand drive, but
you drive on the left?

Also, people in Scotland are apparently allowed, encouraged, even forced by law to drive on the wrong side of the road! I never did fully get used to this concept, so in all fairness to Bush, I'm sure his peabrain was unable, or more likely, unwilling to accept or adjust to this circumstance. Based on his America-is-always-right, head-down, damn-the-torpedos-full-steam-ahead approach to diplomacy, it is very possible that he may have been traveling on the wrong side of the road as he "was flying" along on his bike.

What bears further investigation here is whether Bush failed to realize that Scotland has different ways of doing things (there is precedent for his lack of interest and preparation in decision-making), or whether he was made aware of the different driving laws in Scotland but chose to ignore them because he's the POTUS and he'll ride however and whereever the hell he wants no matter what country he's in.

An unidentified source on double-secret probation has since indicated to me on super-secret background that Bush was indeed briefed on Scottish rules of the road, but responded, "They do things diff'ernt in Scot'sland, I un-der-stand that, but this is America's world and the Scots got to learn their place in it." End quote, end game. Let me show you my smoking gun.

But wait. When reached for comment, White House spokesman Scott McClellan responded that because an official super-double Secret Service investigation was ongoing, it was inappropriate for him to make any statement at that time. He further indicated that after a thorough, lengthy, and costly investigation, nobody would care anymore anyway, so what was the point really in the press even asking him this question in the first place. Love him or hate him, when you're right, you're right.

So despite raging jet lag and cultural disorientation, I had already untaped more of this stinky diaper than all the pool reporters in Suckuptowne.

Namely: 1) What did Bush know about Scottish rules of the road and when did he know it?; and 2) Was this tragedy the result of miscommunication? Did Bush fail to understand the bobbie's Gaeliccented warning cries, or was Bush unable to hear them because he had "My Sharona" cranked on his iPod?

Am I the only one that wants to know? (Don't answer.)

. . .


Avid and aggressive STB,J! reader NavyBoy, a former, uh, Navy, um, boy, recently riddled The Board with this interesting bit of lexicology:

In such matters military, the designator POTUS is used as a proper noun; no proceeding "the" required. Might not be proper English and yet another example of Chuck Yeager, Right Stuff-speak creepin' into the cowboy military lexicon, might be they omit the "the" for succinctness in communications, and/or might depend on whether you're referring to the person or the position.

NavyBoy also clued STB,J! in to the First Lady's handle: FLOTUS. It's true, he's not making this shit up.

After lengthy review of dozens of sources, including Chicago (15th), the American Heritage Dictionary (4th), and From assface to zipperhead: An American slangular treatment (1st), The Board issued its editorial fatwa with regard to articlelization of POTUS. Because its childish and goofy sound most closely mirrors the character of the current POTUS, the STB,J! editorial style guide has been updated to indicate that the definitive article the should always precede the acronyms POTUS, FLOTUS, or VrealPOTUS; omit the when using these constructs as adjectives.


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