Slice of Life: The White House Tapes
THE FOLLOWING IS A TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDING BETWEEN AMERICAN PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AND CHINESE VICE PRESIDENT XI JINPING IN THE OVAL OFFICE ON FEBRUARY 14*
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Welcome to the United States, Mister Xi. How was your flight?
VICE PRESIDENT XI: Thank you, Mister Obama, very good. I watched Thor on the way over. Have you seen it? It’s awfully good.
OBAMA: I think sword and sandal pictures are kind of on the way out. We’re staying away from that.
OBAMA: Heard any jokes lately?
XI: [Pause] Regarding your new military base in Australia...
OBAMA: No, I mean… why did the chicken cross the road?
XI: It is impossible to be absolutely sure, but from our position it may have been attempting to escape from a perceived threat, such as a military base.
OBAMA: Let’s try again.
XI: I see. Knock knock.
OBAMA: Hu’s there?
XI: That, Mister President, is the wrong answer. You do read our public announcements, I presume?
OBAMA: Yes. What’s black and white and read all over?
XI: Our supremely accurate and informative state-run newspapers.
OBAMA: Okay, I think we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot. Let’s take it down a notch. How is your wife?
XI: My wife is on holiday.
OBAMA: D’yer make her?
XI: My wife does not take holidays in countries which help consolidate the military presence around Cuba and other Caribbean nations. She is in Tibet.
OBAMA: Is that free?
XI: Tibet is not free, but it is very reasonably priced.
OBAMA: Oh, so I heard a great one the other day. An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar in Lhasa…
XI: If they are planning to speak with the Tibetan minority about China’s legal borders then our only logical conclusion would be that these three men are attempting to destabilise the glorious People’s Republic with decadent Western notions of individual values.
OBAMA: Well, that’s a key point here… if we could just talk about values for a moment, specifically the value of the Yuan. I mean, c’mon, how many economists does it take to change a lightbulb?
XI: Generally one, possibly two if it’s in a corner and needs another person to hold the stepladder. It is more difficult than most economists imagine. The official Politburo statistics on this matter are published and freely available. Why are you troubling me with these questions?
XI: Syria free? Yes, Syria is free to make its own soverign decisions, and ascribing hidden motives to our current Middle Eastern policy is little more than a smokescreen for the covert machinations of Western imperialism. I want no part of it.
OBAMA: What part do you want?
XI: Taiwan. Anyone who refuses to believe that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China is a duplicitous dog.
OBAMA: My dog’s got no nose...
XI: ...That is an unfortunate problem for any animal where sense of smell is fundamental to its survival.
OBAMA: [Pause] Right… Hong Kong. We’re hearing some interesting reports about this Henry Tang fellow. Is he for real?
XI: The intense flame of love for the one-country-two-systems process burns forever in his heart.
OBAMA: His flame of love burns elsewhere too, by all accounts.
XI: A representative of the Communist Party has called his wife in for questioning and we are satisfied that her bourgeois Western notions on home design and illegal floor planning have been thoroughly corrected to meet the requirements of our new Five Year Plan.
[AMERICAN VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN ENTERS THE OVAL OFFICE]
BIDEN: Hey now, what’s up?
XI: Knock knock.
BIDEN: Who’s there?
BIDEN: President Hu?
BIDEN: Sorry, who?
XI: I’m not President Hu.
BIDEN: No, I mean you.
XI: Premier Yu?
BIDEN: Who’s he? Is Hu with him?
RESPECT & INSPIRATION: LISTOPIA