President Bush’s colonoscopy finds blockage due to those little fruit label stickers
Delicate removal procedure adds tense minutes to Cheney's term as acting president
Long the bane of consumers who trim their fingernails too short and of fastidious housewives annoyed at finding them pasted all over the kitchen, the little stickers adopted years ago by supermarkets to individually identify each vegetable or piece of fruit have now claimed a more significant victim: President Bush.
Little reported following the president’s recent colonoscopy—which put Vice President Cheney openly in charge of the world for a few hours and turned up a few more innocuous polyps—was a near-complete blockage of President George W. Bush’s ascending colon due to an accumulation of the obnoxious (though not actually toxic) little stickers.
"I've been wonderin' why my 'output' didn't seem, as, uh, to match my intake," remarked the president before his regular radio address the following week, apparently not aware he was on the air. He added he hadn't felt especially bloated. But, even using Metamucil, "my spool did seem kinda rabbity," he said.
After he fainted briefly choking on a pretzel during his first term in office, the president’s handlers have closely monitored his noshing, in an attempt to assure his safety. “We watch him like a hawk when it comes to stems, pits and seeds,” as well as other, already implicated choking hazards in the form of salty snacks, said a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, on condition of anonymity. “We’ve observed the president successfully removing the fruit labels, so we felt we had no reason to be concerned in that area.”
However, “He seemed to be a bit bewildered what to do with the label from a banana” following a state luncheon at Camp David, confided Queen Elizabeth II to Entertainment Tonight about her recent visit stateside. “He finally just put it in his mouth, which did seem a little odd.”
Such "pica" behavior—the eating of inedible materials such as lead paint chips, bits of dirt and memos concerning fired U.S. attorneys and warrantless wiretap programs—usually tends to be limited to the very young.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, originally an emergency room physician, said the president’s approach to the labels—removing them first, eating them afterward—is probably habitual, even with fruits whose peel is normally eaten. “If he was just eating the labels along with the skin, not bothering to remove them first, the natural laxative effect of the fruit would probably have carried the stickers out of the system,” Carmona speculated.
The White House chef corps insisted they aren’t partly responsible for the blockage. “Af course we remove ze labels from ze frooeet and ze vegetables before we cook zem”—even from potatoes during the Freedom Fries episode—transliterated Deputy Chef Jacques Argenteuil. “Do you sink we are barbarians?”
Doctors say the blockage, though significant, was never life-threatening, though they were concerned it posed a risk of cutting off the flow of nutrients to the president’s brain, especially when clearing brush. More interestingly, they said, it may have affected his judgment during the estimated decade during which the stickers formed an almost inch-thick layer. Ironically, they may have interfered with the absorption of vitamin W, a newly discovered compound present in trace amounts in the left parietal lobe of the normal adult male Bush brain. The vitamin’s precise function is not known, but initial studies have shown that members of the political dynasty whose ascending colon has been removed have less of it in the brain and display a propensity to praise the incompetent and invade the wrong country.