UnNews:Vetoing Congressional funding bill, Bush launches telethon to raise money for Iraq
2 May 2007
WASHINGTON, DC -- President Bush forcefully vetoed Congressional legislation that would fund troops, but set a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. Immediately following this action, the President launched a telethon to raise money "directly from the American people." Under the ruse of making a speech related to the veto, Bush requested network airtime starting at 6:10 p.m. Although the major networks snubbed the Commander in Chief, cable outlets like CNN and MSNBC fell for the trap.
Speaking in front of a bank of telephone operators, Bush pleaded with viewers to help out in funding the war. "We only need 100 billion dollars!" he exclaimed, adding, "that's only a thousand bucks per household." The live telethon was mixed with pre-taped segments designed to guilt those watching into donating. One spot showed a beleaguered soldier battling in Baghdad, while a narrator intoned "This is 18 year-old Timmy Johnson, who was recruited right out of high school, and now he's on the front lines. For only one hundred dollars per day, you can help Timmy get the food and body armor he needs to survive." A different clip focused on injured troops, and stock footage of dilapidated facilities at Walter Reed included the voiceover "Your money will go to help heal the sick and wounded at this 3rd world-quality hospital."
Another tactic used by Bush in the telethon was to entice potential donors with special gifts. For a $1000 donation, viewers could receive a baseball cap from the Texas Rangers, a team formerly managed by the President. Five thousand dollars would get you a pint of oil, symbolizing "what the war is really about," an on-screen graphic described. The ultimate gift, for a minimum twenty thousand dollar donation, was an autographed photograph of Bush standing aboard the aircraft carrier with the "Mission Accomplished" banner four years ago. To take care of those not sold by the gift offers, Vice President Cheney briefly appeared at the telethon, grimacing and bluntly declaring "If you don't pay up, I will shoot you in the face," as he pointed a rifle at the camera.
Early reports say the telethon is not as successful as the President had hoped it to be. Despite celebrity phone bank operators such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, so far less than one hundred thousand dollars has been collected - far short of the goal. But Bush vowed to stay on the air "until my 10 p.m. bedtime," and Fox News promised to air reruns of the telethon "for as long as it takes." Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to comment, but a spokesperson for the duo confirmed that ratings for their "Awkward Comedy Hour" on CSPAN were down during the telethon.