I had a dream recently, in which I wished that I had taken my camcorder to bed so the whole world would be able to see it in living colour. It was Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, racing into President Bush’s office at the Crawford Ranch in Texas, yelling: “George! It’s Paul Martin! The prime minister of Canada! He’s been trying to get you for the past three weeks.”

“Candy, I told you: don’t interrupt me when I’m watching Bonanza.”

“That oldie!”

“It’s the new DVD version! Candy, did you know that Lorne Greene, who played Pa Cartwright, was a Canadian? He sure didn’t look like a Canadian. Man, he looked like a real Texan!”

“Mr. President, get serious. Martin’s calling about the trade situation. He wants to talk about it.”

“He always wants to talk about the trade situation. What about the missile rift situation? What can he do about it? Why can’t he do another backflip on that?

“He can’t!” exclaimed Condoleezza. “He’s in a minority situation up there. The Quebec faction would throw him out of office if they caught him even humming the Star Spangled Banner.”

“The Quebecers hate us?”

“No, they love Florida. It’s you they don’t like. They think you’re trying to drag them into a war all the time.”

“If we didn’t go to war, Afghanistan would still be kicking their women around and democracy would be a word they couldn’t spell. Saddam would still be running the country. And all that guy, Martin, wants to talk about is trade.”

“Don’t get angry, George. They’re our neighbours to the north and they won’t be moving. You can’t hold a grudge forever.”

“You’re right. I’m going to lift the Canadian beef ban. That should have our Canadian neighbours cheering me wildly in the streets.”

“I doubt it.”

“I will also lift the softwood lumber ban.”

“That’ll help.”

“I will personally invite the prime minister of Canada to the Crawford ranch for a barbeque!”

“That’ll really help!”

“I’ll serve only Canadian beef!”

“Watch it, George. Think of the ‘red’ states. Think of all those farmers and ranchers.”

“You’re right. Maybe we could skip the barbeque and have a roast‚ a dinner where we roast the prime minister of Canada! It would be all in good fun. But I could tell him what I really think of him.”

“No, you won’t, George. Remember, we lost the last war we had with them.”

“I could offer him a signed copy of my new autobiography, How I Won a Crushing Victory by Being Pro-Life.”

“I think the prime minister of Canada would leave that book out behind the barn.”

“I could show him a video of the 100,000 in the pro-life march in Washington this year, with my voiceover praising the pro-life movement and with my vigorous attack on partial-birth abortion. I could run it a couple of times during his visit. I could also rail against same-sex ‘marriages.’”

“I don’t think that would improve U.S.-Canadian relations.”

“You’re right. What if I gave him a beautifully embossed leather book about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”

“That’s not a bad idea, George.”

“On the cover, it will read: ‘PAUL MARTIN’S BIBLE.’”

Condoleezza laughed: “That might cause another war.”

“We will discuss topics of total unimportance and Martin will go back to Canada with increased popularity in the polls.”

“No, Mr. President, you will discuss areas of extreme importance to him. You will wine and dine him and display your Texas-sized hospitality.”

“I will take him around the ranch and show him the difference between a bull and a cow.”

“George, you’re not seeking revenge. You will not indicate the slightest tinge of disappointment over their lack of co-operation with your goals to punish terrorists and establish freedom and democracy throughout the world.”

“I will be charming.”

“No, Mr. President, you will be sincere. You will listen. You will be kind and accommodating. Then they will realize why more Americans voted for you than the other guys.”

“Candy,” laughed George, “I’ve a feeling that you’re running for president of the United States!”

Condoleezza smiled and said: “No comment.”

“Put Prime Minister Paul Martin on the phone,” instructed the president.