WASHINGTON, DC–President Clinton announced Monday that he has invited his tow-headed 8-year-old cousin Oliver to live with him at the White House during the final year of his presidency.
"Welcome aboard, Cousin Oliver," Clinton said at a press conference. "As the Clinton presidency nears the end of a successful eight-year run, I'm confident that your sunny smile and spunky demeanor will warm the hearts of the American people, as well as renew interest in my administration."
At the president's side was the diminutive, bespectacled Oliver, whose short stature, bowl haircut and 1970s-style clothes were already winning the hearts of the White House press corps.
It remains unclear how Oliver came to live with the Clintons. It is believed that his parents are on some kind of expedition in another country.
"This is not something we expected at all," Clinton said. "Last week, when Hillary told me there would be an addition to the family, everyone assumed she was pregnant. I never imagined she meant Cousin Oliver."
Clinton said he would make every effort to help the nerdy, glasses-wearing Oliver fit in.
"I pledge to Oliver that we will do everything we can to make him feel welcome," Clinton said. "He is as much a part of the family as anyone who has been here since the beginning." The president then turned to the boy and asked, "How do you like them apples, Cousin Oliver?"
"They're okay, I guess," Oliver replied, "but I like Sloppy Joes a lot more. Can we have them for dinner tonight?"
Oliver's literal interpretation of Clinton's query prompted a good deal of good-natured chuckling from the assemblage of reporters.
Responding to a reporter's question, Clinton said Oliver would be staying in "[daughter] Chelsea's old room, from before she moved away for college."
"Chelsea's room?" Cousin Oliver added. "Girl stuff… Yuck!"
The remark prompted more laughter.
Though Oliver will not serve in any official capacity, he is expected to fulfill several White House duties, including looking over Clinton's shoulder as he works in the Oval Office and asking him endless questions until the president, feigning exasperation, asks him to go outside and play in the Rose Garden. Oliver is also expected to have numerous amusing interactions with the White House's zany, eager-to-marry housekeeper.
Oliver is already proving to have a nose for adventure. Shortly after arriving Sunday, Oliver convinced CIA director George Tenet to investigate whether the Clintons' longtime butcher is actually a spy. "George and me are a couple of regular super-snoopers," Oliver, sporting a Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker cap and magnifying glass, told reporters. "We got that sneaky butcher trapped in his own meat locker right now!"
Oliver's arrival has been praised by many Beltway insiders, who view it as a shrewd way to reinject some youthful energy to the Clinton White House before it passes into history.
"In January 1993, when the Clinton Administration made its debut, many of the Cabinet members were young and cute," said Washington Post columnist David Broder. "But now they are older, and even Clinton's daughter Chelsea is all grown up. The introduction of Cousin Oliver will reverse that trend, not to mention provide Clinton speechwriters with plenty of opportunities to come up with adorable one-liners to delight the American people."
Not everyone is thrilled with the addition, however. "Adding an adorable moppet to the White House cast at this late stage in the Clinton presidency is nothing more than a cheap gimmick," conservative commentator Laura Ingraham said. "This boy, although undeniably cute, is neither a seasoned professional politician nor an expert in economic and international policy."
Others go so far as to suggest that Oliver could pose a threat to presidential and national security, branding him a "jinx."
"Oliver's only been here two days, and already odd things have been happening," said an unnamed Secret Service agent, speaking on condition of anonymity. "First, he spilled ketchup all over Mrs. Clinton. Then, while playing basketball with Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, he tossed the basketball into a bunch of flower pots, causing them to shatter. And his snoring at night has kept everyone awake."
But Suzanne Horlick, Clinton's assistant press secretary, denied the jinx allegations, citing a trip to Los Angeles taken by Oliver and several members of the Clinton Administration last July.
"We were entering the Paramount Pictures lot for their studio tour, with Cousin Oliver bringing up the rear," Horlick said. "As we all passed through the turnstile, we were stopped by a studio guard. At first, we all groaned, because we were afraid we were in trouble, and that Oliver had jinxed us. But were we wrong! The guard had stopped us to say that Oliver was the one millionth person to go on the studio tour, and his prize was a chance to be in a movie with his friends! So they dressed us up in old-fashioned clothes, and we threw pies at each other, just like in an old silent movie! It was the most fun we ever had, and it was all thanks to Oliver."
If the addition of Oliver is successful, Horlick said more surprises could be in store for the final year of the Clinton Administration, including the Clintons winning the lottery and a Hillary-Chelsea double wedding. She would not comment on rumors of a twist ending to the Clinton era, in which it is revealed that the last eight years were a dream.