WASHINGTON—In preparation for the traditional task of welcoming his successor to the Oval Office, outgoing president George W. Bush canceled all his appointments and press conferences Monday so he could spend the day outfitting his desk with a series of traps, gags, and hair-trigger switches. "Oh, man, is he gonna get it," the president said after rearranging the letters on his computer keyboard and supergluing the direct-line-to-the-Pentagon telephone to its base. "If the 44th president is anything like me, he'll grab this can of peanuts to snack on when he's talking to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and when he does—bam! Right in his face!"
As one of his last official acts in office, Bush reportedly rigged the presidential drawers, chair, and ceiling fan with a number of inconveniencing though harmless devices, including Vaseline-covered pens, fishing-line trip wires, a saltshaker with the top unscrewed, a fake set of nuclear launch codes, an inflated whoopee cushion, and a drawerful of pickles. After backing slowly away from his desk, the president informed his top aides that, if he can get back from the inauguration quickly enough, he also plans to place a bag of canine excrement near the Rose Garden door and set it aflame.
"The commander in chief has successfully executed this mission with precision and decisiveness," said White House press secretary Dana Perino, speaking to reporters with large black circles around her eyes. "Unfortunately, he is not able to return to his desk for the remainder of his term due to all the thumb tacks, but he will continue to lead the nation from the Roosevelt Room."
Taking his place in a long history of executive office shenanigans that began with President Martin Van Buren's famous sneezing-in-Jackson's-coffee prank of 1837, Bush carefully drafted his personal letter to the next president on White House stationery, filled the envelope with glitter, and then used rubber cement to secure the letter to the bottom of his desk's right-hand drawer.
In what may turn out to be his greatest presidential prank, Bush also has spent the previous eight years damaging the American economy beyond repair and bogging the country down in an unwinnable war with a sovereign Middle Eastern nation.