NELSON Mandela yesterday assured the world that, contrary to the impression given by the President of the US, reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.
Even for blunder-prone George Bush, it was a gaffe of toe-curling proportions.
Defending his stand on the war, Mr Bush said Saddam Hussein's brutality made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge to halt civil warfare that has torn Iraq apart.
"I heard somebody say, 'Where's Mandela?'," Mr Bush said. "Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas."
The South African authorities were besieged with calls after Mr Bush's speech, which was carried live on TV. Many viewers feared the country's first black president and Nobel Peace Prize winner had died.
In other news, we are not, in fact, under attack from the Martian terrorists--no, wait!! YES WE ARE!!! ZOMG RUN FOR THE HILLS!!...
Mind you, this is just a scant two weeks after his star turn representing our proud nation:
Bushisms were famous before the man even entered the White House. But with his presidency entering its twilight phase, there is no end, it seems, to the steady supply of inadvertent slips of the tongue.
Yesterday he had reached only the third sentence of his address to an audience at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, when he committed his first gaffe.
"Thank you for being such a fine host for the Opec summit," Mr Bush said to the Australian prime minister, John Howard, confusing two completely different groupings of nations. "Apec summit," he quickly corrected himself.
He then joked that Mr Howard had invited him to the Opec summit next year (for the record, an impossibility, since neither Australia nor the US are members of the oil exporting cartel).
That slip paled in comparison with the next gaffe - a slip of the tongue that placed Austrian, not Australian, troops in Iraq.
Talking about Mr Howard's visit to Iraq last year to thank his country's soldiers serving there, Bush called them "Austrian troops".
That one was fixed for him, with the official text released by the White House switching it to "Australian". Tapes of the speech, however, clearly show Mr Bush saying "Austrian".
Then, speech done, Mr Bush confidently headed out - the wrong way. He strode away from the lectern on a path that would have sent him over a steep drop. Mr Howard and others redirected the president to where there were steps leading down to the floor of the theatre.
So nu okay, the two-time "Banality of Evil Homecoming Queen" Award winner has officially moved into the Wile E. Coyote phase of his "career." Move along, nothing more to see here. try not to hurt yourself cringing.