PHOENIX, AZ—According to campaign sources, Joseph Chappel, a 38-year-old speechwriter for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), has spent the last two weeks attempting to combine words and phrases in such a way as to not provoke a tight-jawed, dead-eyed smile from the presidential hopeful. Dreading a repeat of last month's speech to a group of businesswomen in Ohio, during which McCain followed a mention of his wife with an awkward and eerie smirk, Chappel has avoided personal anecdotes for the new speech, omitted any mention of "God" or "this great nation," and cut several phrases that had the potential to draw the 72-year-old candidate's mouth open in a horrifying display of teeth and gums.
"I've managed to make two out of every three sentences a question, but I'm not sure that will help," Chappel said shortly after deleting an introductory paragraph in which McCain welcomes the crowd. "Jesus, that [smile] makes me feel cold inside."
Chappel told reporters that if he is not able to write an appropriate, smile-free speech in time for the Republican National Convention, he will resign his position and return to his previous job, taking photographs of abused children for police reports.