WASHINGTON, DC—In a nationally televised address Monday, President Bush urged all citizens, regardless of race, creed, color, or political affiliation, "to quiet down for just one minute" so he could have "a chance to think."
"Every American has an inalienable right to free speech and self-expression," Bush said. "Nonetheless, I call upon the American people to hold off on it for, say, 60 seconds. Just long enough for me to get this all sorted out in my head."
"Please," Bush added.
While the president said achieving a unilateral peace and quiet "would not be easy," he hoped that citizens would respect his wish and work toward a temporary cease-talk so that he could can hear his own thoughts "for once."
"Make no mistake: It will take patience and sacrifice," Bush said. "But such drastic measures could lead to a better tomorrow for all of us, especially for your commander in chief."
Bush then closed his speech by exhaling sharply, tightly closing his eyes, and massaging his temples. "I just—Christ, I just need a goddamn minute, you know?" he said.
The presidential call for national silence came as little surprise following weeks of rumors from White House sources that Bush appeared increasingly distracted and wearied by the ever-pervasive noise. Excerpts from an unedited videotaped meeting made public last Thursday revealed a frustrated Bush rhetorically asking Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan how "the leader of the free world was supposed to get any work done around here with all this volume."
Assuring the public it "can make as much noise as [it] wants" as soon as the Bush-proposed national minute of silence concludes, Chief Of Staff Josh Bolten said that the White House was making "every effort" to accommodate Bush's wishes.
"Currently, the president's calls are being bounced back to the West Wing call center, and all televisions and radios on White House property have been switched off," said Bolten, who added that staffers moved Bush family dog Barney from the Oval Office after Bush called the Scottish terrier's heavy panting "intolerable."
Several world leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chinese President Hu Jintao, reacted to Bush's speech by openly wondering if Bush's request pertained to them.
"I think he meant everyone, allies or not," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. "So, please, whether you are the prime minister of India or the German chancellor, try to tone it down. Also, if you are an Iraqi insurgent, a leader of Hezbollah, a member of al-Qaeda, or a general enemy of the U.S., hush."
Bush's plea was backed by leading Republicans, who urged their constituents to comply with the president's request to "be quiet for seriously, like, two seconds."
"In these trying times for our president, we must show respect for his office, even if it means turning our car radios down, shushing our children, and turning off all fans," Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) said. "Heck, the man just needs one measly minute."
Capitol Hill Democrats, however, have criticized Bush's call for silence, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) calling it "yet another example of Bush's inability to connect with everyday Americans, many of whom rarely, if ever, receive a moment to themselves."
"Where's their moment to think?" Pelosi said.
While Bush deemed the attempts at quiet "helpful and encouraging," he called for "literally one more second" of complete silence, saying he was "very close to getting it together and almost had it" before being interrupted by the sound of a car alarm moments ago.