By Michael Angelico
Malcolm Turnbull is easily the hardest person to buy a Christmas present for. Any other bloke of his age would be happy with a Bunnings voucher but no, he’s too busy being PM to play with power tools. Every idea I had was useless. A fountain pen? He’s already got one. A villa in the south of France? He’s got one of them too. And whenever I asked him what he wanted, he’d just say “World peace” or “A republic” or something – and they’re so difficult to gift wrap.
So this year, in one of those rare flashes of brilliancy for which I’m becoming known, I wrote him a letter instead.
“Dear Mal. For Christmas this year I’m going to do your diplomatic trip to the US for you. I know how much you’ve been dreading it. Your grateful citizen, me.”
And that’s how I happen to be at the White House today. It’s fairly nippy outside (I should have packed more Australian weather in my luggage) but I want to tell you all about my interview with the president.
He sent the Obamobile to meet me at the airport, which was nice. It’s a spare government vehicle now, as the President prefers to protect himself with his trusty .303 rifle. We reached the White House and I heard his minders briefing him for my visit.
Or at least, they were trying to brief him. If you’ll excuse the pun, he was trumping everything they said with his sheer volume. I heard lots of “Who?” and “Asia what Partnership?” and “Friends schmends, everyone is a competitor, just send that idiot in, what’s his name again?” and then finally “I don’t need your dossier, I can just wing anything, that’s why I did so well as a TV host!”
So I was ushered into the august presence of the Most Powerful And Important Person In The World. He tossed his hair out of his face with a superior gesture and shook my hand warmly. “Ah Michael, good morning, welcome to the White House. I don’t think we’ve met, congratulations on becoming President, was it a close election like mine?”
I didn’t have time to correct him because he was still talking. “Wonderful country, aaaaaaaahstralia, I’ve always wanted to go. I booked on one of those package tours once. You know, see aaaaaaaahstralia in a day, fly into Sydney, learn about convicts all morning, take a bus to Ire’s rock and learn about your Red Indians, then a tour of the government buildings in Can Borough. Say, why did you folk name your capital city after a Vietnam war fighter plane?”
I was about to explain that it was the other way round (leaving out the fact that the Canberra was a bomber not a fighter), and was ready to cover an awkward silence by telling Trump the literal translation of Canberra (“a very twisted snake” – which might explain something about our politicians), but he just kept talking. “Turned out the whole tour was a scam. And the company was even called Trump Travel! I should have sued them for using my name for a blatant grab for power.”
I tactfully tried to steer the conversation towards trade agreements like Mr Turnbull had said, but that only unleashed another torrent of words.
“You shouldn’t be doing agriculture and putting good American farmers out of business. Rebuild your country’s economy on tourism! You have kangaroo rides and cuddly koala bears, you could do really well out of it!”
Well that was it. Something snapped inside me and I threw caution to the wind.
“Cuddly koala bears?” I repeated, manfully suppressing the almost physical torture that expression always gives me. “Don’t you believe it, that’s a lie put out by un-Americans to get tourists to go to Australia. They’re fierce and bloodthirsty, we had to build a massive wall right down the middle of the country to keep them out of the populated areas. We call it the Rabbit Proof Fence after the last Prime Minister.”
Of course his eyes lit up when I mentioned the wall and he was off on his hobby horse. That was the last straw for me. I just sat back and let him ramble.
As a wise man once said, all the Americans did at the last election was exchange Karl Marx for Groucho Marx.