As the 2004 presidential election draws nigh, incumbent Pres. George W. Bush’s Vietnam-era Texas Air National Guard service has again been forcibly booted into the spotlight.
Democratic opponents claim that George W. served with less than distinction, even going AWOL on occasion. To counter this, the president has suddenly produced his 1968-73 service records to prove that he was on the job. Except for some, er, gaps.
And just to make things the teeniest bit more confusing, a former National Guardsman recently stepped forward to say that he saw Bush’s military records unceremoniously tossed out years ago to avoid any future embarrassment.
What’s happening, America?
Would the Democrats lie? Gosh, that’s never happened before.
Would the president fabricate official records? Golly, that’s never happened before.
If, like many Americans, you’re having trouble believing either of these heretofore impeccably credible political entities, I’ve got the real story for you.
I know. I was there (at least I thought it was me. It could easily have been someone like me, I suppose. There are some gaps…).
Trouble started in the summer of 1972 when my old ’60s sidekick, Sapper, and I were drowning our sorrows in a nondescript Alabama roadhouse.
Sapper, forever lost in the Age of Aquarius after ingesting some unidentifiable herbs near Bolinas in 1968, was disgruntled over his inability to distill psychotropic substances from artichokes and I was lamenting the lack of anti-war sentiment in Monte Sereno.
As the evening progressed, we were joined by a personable young National Guard officer named George and a shady CIA operative named Bruce.
The latter whispered to us that he needed to recruit an untraceable three-man team to travel to Vietnam and rescue international entrepreneur Pepe “The Tuna” Rebarativo from the clutches of the Viet Cong. The wily guerrillas, Bruce explained, were holding Rebarativo somewhere on the outskirts of Saigon and America’s critically important copra supply was threatened if the canny businessman wasn’t freed soon.
George, being the gung-ho kinda guy he was, immediately volunteered all three of us for the mission and, within 48 hours, we were prowling the dark back streets of Saigon in search of the missing millionaire.
As luck would have it, Rebarativo had actually escaped the Viet Cong three weeks earlier and we found him partying with the Dutch cultural attache and a traveling limbo troupe from Jamaica. We called for a chopper and “The Tuna” was back home four days after our arrival.
Mission accomplished.Unfortunately, since this was a secret mission, it was never acknowledged in George W. Bush’s service records, hence the telltale “gaps” therein.
Hey, waydaminnit – did I hear a “Harrrrumph! Another tall tale!” from someone out there?
C’mon, amigos, this account is at least as believable as any of the others purporting to explain irregularities in the president’s National Guard record.
And if you don’t believe me, just ask George W. about this mission the next time you bump into him. I’m sure his response will surprise you…
Originally published February 29, 2004