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In Firehouse Visit, Bush Announces End to Fire Threat, Slides Down Pole Wearing Helmet
October 18, 2003
Satire by David Albrecht

New York, N.Y., 18 October 2003 — President George W. Bush, in an aggressive effort to reverse a recent slide in his approval ratings, today visited a New York fire station and announced that "the American people have defeated the threat and fear of fire," before donning a fireman's bunker coat and helmet and sliding down a brass pole.

"For many years,' the president stated, 'Americans have fought tirelessly against this capricious and destructive force both in their homes and in their workplaces. But today, I am proud to announce that the terrorist threat of fire is no longer a menace to the peace and security of the United States of America." The president spoke to an audience of campaign contributors at a lower Manhattan fire station specially prepared for his visit. A large red banner hung behind his podium, prominently displaying the message "Threat Extinguished."

Bush spoke of the concerted efforts his new Office of Faith Against Fire (OFAF) has made in the past few months. "Its hard work has paid off. Americans are now fully aware that fire is hot and dangerous. Americans are now more conscious than ever of the fact that fire safety is in their hands - and in God's - and that God is not neutral in the struggle. The introduction of OFAF has, according to the president, made it possible for city and local governments to save billions of dollars in staffing and equipment costs that had been dedicated to firefighters.

President Bush also spoke of his plans to further streamline remaining emergency services. Under the provisions of the America Prays Against Fire Act, local governments will be allowed to privatize remaining emergency services and to replace current employees with low-cost immigrant laborers under a new visa program, allowing further savings for cash-strapped municipalities. "The era of heavy-handed regulation and expensive mandates in public safety is over. God knows that market forces provide a better way. In fact, He told me so."

At the conclusion of his remarks, the president went to the second floor of the station, where he donned the bunker coat, boots and helmet of a firefighter killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. He then leapt out to grasp the brass pole leading to the first floor truck bay, and slid deftly down. "Whee!" he exclaimed, "This is fun!"

Many members of the Washington press corps predicted that this would become the defining moment in the president's reelection campaign. MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews stated that "The Democratic contenders may as well hang it up now." Fox News analyst Fred Barnes explained the irresistible appeal of the firehouse visit. "Howard Dean may be the last angry Democrat, and John Kerry may be a combat veteran. But those qualifications - if you can call them that - don't matter any more. After seeing the way President Bush grasped that pole with his firm thighs and muscular arms, voters know that this is a man who can and will lead America to victory, both in the War on Terror and the War on Fire."

Although a few hundred firefighters and their family members protested the president's visit, security concerns led the Secret Service to confine their demonstration to a special First Amendment zone in Camden, New Jersey.

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