Across the country, the Christmas crush is well underway at malls and parking lots packed with folks shopping for loved ones and friends. Commentator Connie Rice, who normally skips the Christmas frenzy, was unexpectedly moved by a tremendous sense of relief to find gifts for imminently departing members of President Bush's cabinet. So just in time for the "10 Days of Christmas," The Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Departing Cabinet Members:
(10.) Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge:
Ten rolls of color-coded duct tape. What else do you remember about Tom Ridge's tenure except that silly color-coded alert system and the absurd suggestion that duct tape could protect you against chemical warfare? Color coded duct tape is perfect.
(9.) Attorney General John Ashcroft:
Nine naked statues with Velcro thongs and pasties to cover up the nudity. Who could forget the attorney general of the United States ordering staff to put curtains over the classic nudes in the lobby of the Justice Department? Did he ever take art appreciation in college? And since Ashcroft got more upset at male nudes, six of them will be model replicas of Swartzenegger in the buff.
(8.) Secretary of State Colin Powell:
Eight autographed copies of How and When To Resign With Dignity. Powell could have checked crazy Cheney and the neo-nuts running the Department of Defense, but he didn't. Instead, they cut him out and then he let them use him as a human shield. For dashed expectations, a book about what he should have done — resign.
(7.) Secretary of Housing Mel Martinez:
Seven of the Section 8 housing vouchers that he discontinued for the poor homeless. He should have to buy his next home with these vouchers — that should amount to a grand sum of $2,400, not even enough for the escrow fee.
(6.) Secretary of Education Rod Paige:
He has a choice: Either six plaques of appreciation from the Terrorist Teachers Brigade, or six copies of Accounting Tricks to Raise Achievement Scores. He's a good man, but his "Houston miracle" rested on shaky numbers — and his kids were, in reality, left behind.
(5.) White House Counsel/Future Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:
Five golden rings, and five inscribed copies of Tomas de Torquemada notes on the Spanish Inquisition, Explorations in Torture. Hey, even with his defense of torture, Gonzales couldn't possibly be worse than Ashcroft.
(4.) Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham:
Four specially bottled waters from glaciers that melted this year from the global warming the Bush administration denies.
(3.) CIA Director George Tenet:
Three sets of Slam Dunce Basketball — a game of braggadoggio and hubris. He's the one who insisted Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program was a "slam dunk" case for invasion. Slam dunk, my eye.
(2.) Iraq Occupation Administrator Jerry Bremer:
Viceroy Bremer will be receiving two publishing deals to write books entitled Blundering through Mesopotamia and The Top 10 Things Not to do During an Occupation.
(1.) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:
He's not leaving, but he should be. I'm sending him a welding gun, scrap metal and an unarmored Humvee. He can spend Christmas doing what the troops have had to do — armoring their vehicles.