In an unprecedented effort to carry his message to the American people, President George W. Bush today released an impressive four-disc album of memorable songs from stage and screen featuring himself, key members of his administration and invited guests backed by a Jazz trio. The top secret enterprise, kept under wraps for months, was recorded, said White House press secretary Scott McClellan, at "an undisclosed location sometime before the President's most recent visit to Europe. "The President felt that America's music would be an ideal way to reach the masses, McClellan said, "especially since news conferences, town-hall meetings and photo-ops, no matter how well-scripted, didn't seem to be working.
President Bush himself opens Disc 1, and after verifying his down-home credentials ("I'm an Old Cowhand, "Deep in the Heart of Texas, "God's Country ), the Connecticut-born, Yale-bred commander-in-chief swings easily into an upbeat Social Security Reform medley "It's a Simple Little System, "The Best Thing for You, "Just Imagine, "Cross Your Fingers, "Bet Your Bottom Dollar and "Better Luck Next Time. On Disc 2, the President reveals a time-frame for the war on terror ("Till the End of Time, "From Here to Eternity, "That'll Be the Day ) and clarifies his reasons for going to war in Iraq ("Because, "Trust Me, "Don't Ask Me Why, "Whistling in the Dark, "They Didn't Believe Me, "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan, "I Didn't Mean a Word I Said, "Too Late Now ).
On Disc 3, the President assesses his budget for the coming year ("In the Land of Let's Pretend, "Hey, Big Spender, "I'm Doing It for Defense, "I Get Carried Away ) and his promise to cut the massive federal deficit in half before he leaves office ("I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All, "High Hopes, "A Cockeyed Optimist, "I'm Making Believe, "Stranger Things Have Happened, "Just Leave Everything to Me and "It's Magic ). He's prominent on Disc 4 as well, crooning his sentiments about the Kyoto treaty on global warming ("Baby, It's Cold Outside, "It's a Lovely Day Today, "Button Up Your Overcoat, "New Sun in the Sky, "Stormy Weather, "River, Stay 'Way from My Door ) while standing four-square behind his environmental blueprint ("I Talk to the Trees, "Sleigh Ride in July, "I Wished on the Moon, "On a Clear Day, "There's Something in the Air ) and the plan to drill for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge ("Goodbye to Dear Alaska ). Quite obviously elated by the spontaneity and freedom that Jazz embodies, President Bush salutes Iraqi veterans ("I Can't Be Bothered Now ) and even Osama bin Laden ("The Man That Got Away, "Someday I'll Find You ) before sharing enchanting duets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair ("It's a Perfect Relationship ) and Vice President Dick Cheney ("A Couple of Song and Dance Men, "That Old Soft Shoe and "Doin' the Shim Sham ).
On Disc 1, the Vice-President rhapsodizes about his health ("Be Careful, It's My Heart, "Stayin' Alive ), his vital role in shaping the administration's energy policy ("Let's Make a Deal, "I Cain't Say No, "That's What Friends Are For, "More I Cannot Wish You, "Who Says There's No Santa Claus? ), the secrecy that surrounded its evolution ("I Can't Begin to Tell You, "You'll Never Know ) and his unabashed fondness for big business ("Doin' What Comes Naturally, "Friendship, "Consider Yourself at Home, "What More Do You Want, "Don't Let It Bother You, "It's a Habit of Mine ). Before departing, he reiterates his thoughts about Democrats in Congress ("Gesticulate, "Go Fly a Kite ). On that same disc, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warmly serenades the president ("Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man, "I Only Have Eyes for You, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy, "Mad About the Boy, "Love for Sale ) and reminisces about the Senate's 9/11 hearings, at which the then-national security adviser was a key witness ("Try to Remember, "I Didn't Know What Time It Was, "Remind Me, "How Was I to Know, "It Never Entered My Mind. "Give a Girl a Break"). Not to be outdone, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ad-libs some typically trenchant observations about the war in Iraq ("How Long Has This Been Going On?, "What Am I Here For?, "Where Do We Go from Here?, "It Was Great When It All Began, "It Started All Over Again and "Who's Sorry Now? ).
Among the headliners on Disc 2 are chief political strategist Karl Rove ("The Country's in the Very Best of Hands, "As Long as He Needs Me ) and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who summarizes his positions on prisoner abuse ("Anything Goes, "Let's Misbehave, "Steam Heat, "Boys Will Be Boys, "I'll Close My Eyes ) and the Patriot Act ("I've Got Your Number, "It Could Happen to You ). Senate majority leader Tom DeLay adds his omnipresent voice, downplaying charges of ethical misconduct ("Ain't Misbehavin', "It's Legitimate, "Just an Honest Mistake, "Nobody's Perfect ), while House majority leader Bill Frist spells out his point of view toward gays and lesbians ("When a Pansy Was a Flower, "Those Were the Good Old Days ). UN Ambassador-elect John Bolton then shows his softer side with an amicable medley "By Myself, "Lookin' for Trouble, "Sabre Dance, "There'll Be Some Changes Made, "We'll Build a Little World of Our Own and "Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?
On Disc 3, homeland security chief Michael Chertoff sings of progress in his area ("My Defenses Are Down, "Only Make Believe, "Something's Coming, "Put on a Happy Face, "Look for the Silver Lining ) and color-coded alerts ("Ya Gotta Have a Gimmick"), while intelligence czar John Negroponte rhapsodizes about his newest assignment ("Just One More Chance, "This Is My Lucky Day, "Send in the Clowns ). They are followed in turn by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao who bemoans the outsourcing of American jobs overseas ("Nice Work If You Can Get It, "The Best Things in Life Are Free, "Always True to You in My Fashion, "It's Foolish But It's Fun, "After You've Gone, "The Party's Over ) and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa who sheds new light on his bankruptcy reform bill ("I Found a Million Dollar Baby, "Sue Me, "The Bare Necessities, "Ain't Got a Dime to My Name, "Count Your Blessings, "Cry Me a River, "Pick-Pocket Tango ). Michael Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services, closes Disc 3 with an inspiring aria about the future of universal health coverage "Promises, Promises, "High Hopes, "The Impossible Dream, "You Can't Have Everything and "The Customer Is Always Wrong.
What makes the album even more irresistible are the cameos on Disc 4 by a number of well-known public figures including former CIA director George Tenet ("Don't Blame Me ), governors Arnold Schwarzenegger of California ("Bidin' My Time ) and Jeb Bush of Florida ("Tomorrow Belongs to Me ), broadcasters Rush Limbaugh ("I Like Myself ) and Bill O'Reilly ("Let Me Entertain You ), and even Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry who recalls the race for the White House ("This Nearly Was Mine ) and chides himself for saying he would have voted to give the President the authority to go to war in Iraq even had he known that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction ("If I Only Had a Brain ). The Halliburton Men's Chorus wraps up the album with a breathtaking depiction of its singular role in Iraq "We're in the Money, "All or Nothing at All, "That's for Me, "Money to Burn and "There Must Be Something More.
An extraordinary album by any measure, even though a bit pricey (two to four trillion dollars over the next ten years), one that is certain to assume a place of honor in garages, attics and closets from coast to coast, in red states and blue.