Sunday 25 Sep 2016

70s Bite Back
David Simmonds

Thoreau College, a tiny liberal arts university located in historic Essex, Vermont, has established the Bush/Cheney Chair in Historical and Ethical Studies.

"I was as surprised as the next guy" admitted local dairy farmer Clem Cheney, "but to put up a hundred bucks to get your name on a prestigious university chair seems worth it to me". School crossing guard Fred Bush echoed those sentiments, adding he's "tickled to show the missus" his legacy.

The Chair is actually the brainchild and financial creation of reclusive granola magnate Abbey Birkenstock, who two years ago sold her thriving Cosmic Wavelength cereal business to Imperial Mills for a reputed 15 figure sum.

"I wanted to get the jump on those SOBs and their so-called legacy," said Birkenstock. "And fortunately the people at the College felt the same way". (A bronzed statue of the College's current Board of Governors will also be erected to coincide with the establishment of the Chair).

The academic focus of the Chair will be on the lessons that can be learned from the conduct of the Bush/Cheney presidency.

"The endowment of the Chair is a vital and progressive step" said College President Ernest Maybee. "The George Bush years offer a cornucopia of ethical issues. Kindergarten students will be able to study why bad things happen when you lie, and high school students will be able to study the pros and cons of rewarding your friends. Undergraduates could study the morality of throwing subordinates to the wolves, and post graduate students might look at hubris and imperial adventurism".

In a prepared statement, Birkenstock indicated this was her "revenge on Richard Nixon for Vietnam and Cambodia", noting that she still suffers from allergies associated with her exposure to tear gas while a graduate student at California's Berkley College.

The initial occupant of the Chair will be former Weather Underground militant and current Thoreau College professor Doris Knight, author of "Spiro's Potatoes: an intimate portrait of failed Vice-Presidents from Agnew to Quayle" and the more recent "Gore and Guts: Studies in VIce-Presidential courage from the environment to fashion".

The occupant of the Bush/Cheney Chair is required to give an annual public lecture, a task that Knight indicated she was anticipating with great pleasure. "I can tell you that the first lecture will be titled "those who refuse to study history are condemned to repeat it" said Knight.

The annual lecture has two ceremonial elements. It begins with a pronouncement by Fred Bush that "major hostilities are over", and ends with a rifle blast by Clem Cheney into a barn door, crafted especially for the event. In addition, to retain the professorship, the occupant must, in the presence of the University's president, annually sit and listen to David Crosby's "Almost cut my hair" in its entirety. "It's a wretched song, but that's why I chose it", explained Birkenstock. "I was looking for a loyalty test that was demanding but simple".

No comment was made by President Bush but Vice-President Cheney was alleged to have seen intelligence briefings indicating that Birkenstock was part of a vast conspiracy seeking to prevent duplicitous ideologues from holding important public office. Having seen them, he immediately called for his own briefings, indicating he expected to find "slam dunk" evidence of weapons of mass instruction.

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