1. When an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at ex-President Bush during a news conference in Baghdad, the whole world LOLed.
2. Remember what ex-President Bush did at that press conference in Beijing when reporters asked him hard questions for which he didn't seem to have an answer? He tried to escape the room, only to be thwarted by locked doors. Caught red-handed he pulled one of his silly faces. America shrank in shame. The rest of the world chuckled.
3. When Bush got down and shook his thang to African beats, we were in stitches, thinking, OMG, please, don't.
4. Remember the Thanksgiving turkey? You know, the one that--after being pardoned-- pecked Bush below his presidential belly button? Hilarious!
5. Ex-president Bush was watching the Super Bowl. Munching on pretzels. Happily. In a very Texan kind of way. He choked on a mouthful of them. He blacked out. He hit the ground. A few blissful seconds passed. We held our breath. Hopeful. Then he came to. Hope was rapidly replaced with uncontainable laughter, giggles, snorts and tsk-tsks.
6. Then, of course, there was the fall. Bush fell off a Segway scooter, and the
whole universe cackled. Either because to watch other people falling is just
outright hilarious or because the one kissing the ground was no other
than the most powerful man in the world: Bush. Bush. Bush.
7. Mind you, when Bush dropped his dog, Barney, on its head, no one laughed. A
dog's life was a stake, and we love dogs.
The list goes on, but honestly, my desktop doesn't have enough RAM. Which is why I wonder why Turkmenistan so vehemently hides the fact that its president fell off a scrawny horse. Big deal. Hilary Clinton tripped twice in front of the whole world; President Ford's legendary streak of slips and falls always made the news (Chevy Chase milked every single one of them on SNL.) Sarkozy lost his balance once as he exited his plane; President Obama has bumped his head while boarding the presidential helicopter (several times) and so did his wife as she boarded Air Force-1. Needless to say, ex-president Bush hurt himself on every means of transportation, recreational or not, within his reach.
Yet, Turkmenistan remains mum about its president's recent fall. Scratch "mum." Their denial of the incident borderlines mundane revisionism. It never happened seems to be the message, which is easy to accomplish in a country whose government forbids social networking (no Facebook), grants its citizens no freedom of speech, suppresses political opposition, has a poor human rights record, and remains, for all intents and purposes, an iron curtain country, three decades behind everybody else in the region.
But this is not about politics; it's about a president falling off a horse, an innocent gaffe witnessed only by a handful of Turkmen, which would have added a dash of flavor to their otherwise bland lore had it not been because an army of bodyguards and handlers, who look like characters from "The Spy Who Shagged Me," went around the racetrack confiscating all electronics from attendees to prevent the video from being leaked. Foreign reporters were assembled after the race and asked to erase all pictures and footage taken of the incident.
So, ok, things didn't go according to plan. The horse race was meant
to extol Gurbanguly's leadership, celebrate the horsemanship of
Turkmenistan's ruler, and to promote further the image of a man with
many and varied talents (surgeon, car race winner, musician, and writer
of many best sellers in Turkmenistan, among many fantastic others). Instead, it proved what we already knew: the president of Turkmenistan is human and not a very good horse racer, he fell off a horse and it was funny as hell. The cold war paranoia is alive and kicking in that part of the world. People leaving the country have been asked to surrender their audio visual equipment (cameras, cell phones, iPads, the whole she bang) for inspection, just is case footage of the Arkadag (the protector) nose diving into the ground makes it out of the country.
Fortunately for all of us with a cruel sense of humor, the clip went viral and has had hundreds of thousands of hits. Schadenfreude? yes, absolutely. Nothing funnier than a megalomaniac being thrown off a horse's back. Ask Jimmy Kimmel.