OUR LONDON GUYS
BOTH SIDES NOW
A BRIT AND A YANK IN A BRISTLING CONVERSATION
ABOUT THE WAR IN IRAQ AND LOTS OF OTHER STUFF
Taylor wants to know why so many Americans are fat tubs of lard.
Hemay believe English fatties like Robert Morley and Winston Churchill
had "glandular problems."
A Brit and an American
Gaze at Their Navels
By MICHAEL JOHNSON and ROBERT TAYLOR
For the second time in these pages, writers and friends Michael Johnson, an American living in London, and Robert Taylor, a native Englishman, engage in casual conversation about an issue or two that divide their two societies more each day. Asking the questions: Robert Taylor. Defending himself: Michael Johnson
RT: When are you Yanks going to admit you've screwed up in Iraq?
MJ: Dont fool yourself. Americans are not quitters. We have a plan. Were making a deal to bring in the French to help. And anyway we didnt screw up. We dropped 30,000 bombs on Iraq, some of them quite close to the target, and we have another 30,000 ready to go if the Iraqis dont start behaving soon. We may call on you British for minor policing tasks, so dont go away.
RT: When I entered the term "Why America is hated" on Google, I got back over a million web pages. Why are your people so horrible, do you think?
MJ: Oh please. Everyone knows Google double-counts its pages, so lets start by admitting its only half a million. And thats not bad for a big, wide world of six billion people. Why I was talking to a guy from Poland just last week and he thought the U.S. was doing a pretty good job, considering the limitations of our leadership.
RT: What bleedin limitations? Youre the only superpower on earth. How can that be limiting?
MJ: Superpower? Superpower? We will limit it any way we want. We didnt seek this role. It was thrust upon us by weenies in Europe who prefer to spend their national income on welfare rather than the military.
RT: Your President is a bit dim, isn't he? Is it true he plays video games in his lunch hour?
MJ: Maybe he does. Doesnt everyone? I hear youve been known to accidentally visit some strange websites and not just on your lunch hour. Anyway, we love dim politicians. It makes the electorate feel superior. No doubt about it, the bottom line for democracy is positive when the leader is a dolt.
RT: Theres nothing accidental about the websites I visit. I know exactly where Im going. Anyway, isn't it about time your lot realised that there's a world outside America? Getting some passports printed would be a good start.
MJ: Actually I sometimes wonder what language you speak in England, too. Ever try to understand David Beckham or a random resident of Birmingham? Youre right about one thing: Americans prefer to stay at home. Theyve got everything they need within 100 miles--half the country now speaks Spanish, for example. Even my home town of 2,500 souls in the middle of farm country has imported hundreds of enterprising Hispanic families. Most of them work in the new hog-slaughterhouse.
RT: Why are you all so fat?
MJ: Too many porkchops, perhaps?
RT: Rubbish. Youre just greedy. When I go to America Im staggered by the portions in the restaurants. You need a trough to eat that much. Wheres your self-control?
MJ: You just put your finger on it. Americans believe in superlatives, in excess. We eat till we cant move away from the table. Everything else also has to be the biggest and best. Did you ever see the worlds biggest ball of twine proudly held by the citizens of Cawker City, Kansas? People drive for miles to have a look.
RT: Why do you make your school kids say this oath of allegiance each morning? Will they think America is a great place, just because they're taught to say so?
MJ: I confess that we still have some old-fashioned ideals, unlike your country, where nothing is sacred, not even your German queen.
RT: Why are your big newspapers so dull and boring? Your journalists seem to have no opinions.
MJ: Ahem. At least when we have something to say, we simply blurt it out in plain English. Saves everyone a lot of time. And speaking of the monarchy, even your so-called royal family has to talk to the press in Lewis Carrollese, as in your famous Prince Charles having his spokesman handle a sex scandal by saying something like: Its ebb-so-LOOT-ly risible. Terribly sorry I cant say what the accusation is, but I deny it and while Im at it, I deny everything else, too.
RT: Well if you were accused of shagging your butler, wouldnt you be tempted to deny it?
MJ: Actually I thought the butler was rather cute. Maybe Ive been in your country too long.
RT: Is Arnie going to be the next President? Does it matter that he screws around and admires fascists?
MJ: Oh come on. All he said was that Hitler was a good public speaker. And as for being indiscreet, he doesnt even remember all those girls. How many of yours can you recall? Or do you keep a database?
RT: Why is abortion such a big issue in America? Isn't world poverty more important?
MJ: In America we call it pro-choice. But its a free country so opponents can shoot those who disagree. Some day you, too, may achieve this level of freedom. Whats this about poverty? Weve done very well on that score. Weve got millions of poor people.
RT: Who are all these TV evangelists? Aren't they a bunch of crooks?
MJ: Hey be nice. Youre English, remember? TV evangelists are only human, with the usual American drives of greed, selfishness, false piety and all the extra-marital sex they can get away with.
RT: Yes, I thought so. And while Im at it, when's America going to stop poisoning the rest of us with greenhouse gases?
MJ: Havent you ever heard of free-market enterprise? Theres plenty of space on the planet to pollute after we finish with our country. And then theres the moon, theres Mars.
RT: Are you trying to make up for being late for the last two world wars by being really prompt for the next one?
MJ: Whats wrong with hanging back to see which way the winds blowing before committing yourself? And we won both of those wars, if I remember right.
RT: Typical American attitude--We won both of those wars. Since you were actually alive during the second one, and may even have seen some action, youll recall that you had some help from Russians, Brits, Aussies, Indians, Canadians, Kiwis and even the French. Or dont you remember that?
MJ: Yes, we did require some support from lesser nations, and they deserve a footnote. Quite right. I cede one point.
©2003 by Michael Johnson and Robert Taylor. The cartoon is from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA.
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