WASHINGTON D.C. - The White House is denying widespread reports on Tuesday that several members of the UN Security Council are using answering machines to screen repeated Iraq-related telephone calls from President Bush.
Giant bureaucratic webs of missed calls and frantic phone tag are engulfing Mexico, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Angola and Guinea – as the crucial ‘swing voters’ in the 15 nation Security Council have resorted to screening all calls placed to their respective leaders with answering machines. The new practice has reportedly slowed government business in several nations – as Presidents, Prime Ministers and high level government officials across the globe have even turned the volume down on their answering machines to escape the White House’s relentless phone diplomacy.
“Mr. Bush doesn’t take a hint very well, “a high level aide to Mexican President Vicente Fox said, “At first we just didn’t answer calls coming from the United States, but after the White House started using *67 to block the caller ID, we didn’t have any options left. We are just hopeful that they will stop calling soon.”
In a tape widely circulated around the United Nations yesterday, a male voice matching the President’s is heard to say: “Hallo, Vicente?… Hallo? Please pick up! I’m calling about Sadda… Oh… wait, I have call waiting – it must be Dad. Gotta go – please call me back urgentably[sic]…”
The White House has steadfastly denied the rumors. In a press conference yesterday, spokesman Ari Fleischer said “Certainly, we would look very seriously at any nation that is not taking President Bush’s phone calls […] Absolutely, everyone has been taking President Bush’s phone calls…perhaps a country’s leader may have been in the bathroom or taking a shower or simply or had the TV turned up too loud when the phone rang and then the machine picked up, but certainly all of the President’s calls are being taken otherwise.”
As of press time, messages seeking comment left with the governments of Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Angola and Guinea have not been returned.