Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

With the imprint of carpet weave in his forehead, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose from his evening prayers and joined us in his presidential office for a frank interview.

Having learned from such stalwart journalists as those on NBC, we didn’t pull any punches and hit him right between the eyes with our most penetrating question.

“Are you a bad guy?” we asked.

“No,” he answered.

Again, taking our cue from network journalism, we thanked Iran’s president for his forthright answer and prepared to take our leave, but he stopped us.

“You seem like a fair-minded infidel,” he said. “So I’d like to expand on my recent remarks to the United Nations.”

“You mean … like that thing about the 9/11 attacks being ‘orchestrated’ by ‘some segments within the U.S. government’?” we asked.

“Indeed,” he answered. “That and other examples of western imperialist manipulation.”

As we re-opened our notebook and held our pen at the ready, the Iranian president held forth:

“The majority of the American people agree the attack was staged to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime.

“This is in keeping with United States practice from the beginning of time.”

“Can you give us some more examples?” we ventured.

“Of course,” he said kindly. “The Dec. 7, 1941, ‘attack’ on Pearl Harbor is a very good example. Roosevelt’s – or should I say Rosenfeld’s – New Deal couldn’t pull America out of the Great Depression, so elements within the U.S. government staged the air raid.

“It was just like when American agents shot the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, precipitating World War I.”

We protested that the assassination plot was of Serbian origin, and Ahmadinejad chuckled, “That’s what they want you to think. Just like they want you to think hostile forces sank the battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898.

“We know the explosive charge that destroyed the ship actually was placed by scuba divers from the National Security Agency.”

“But, Mr. President,” we said, “The NSA was formed in 1951, and its predecessor agency in the armed forces only two years before that. Besides, scuba gear dates only from 1942, when Emile Gagnan and Jacques Cousteau figured out how to regulate pressure from self-contained air tanks.”

“You can’t believe everything you read in the history books,” said Ahmadinejad, raising an eyebrow. “You probably believe the American Civil War was precipitated by southern forces bombarding Fort Sumter.”

“Wasn’t it?” we asked.

“No, no, no,” said Ahmadinejad, waving a forefinger. “The 1861 bombardment came from ships outfitted by segments of Abraham Lincoln’s administration. The idea was to give northern industries something to do.”

“But Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, and the attack on Fort Sumter was the next April 12,” we said. “How could Lincoln have outfitted ships and organized an attack in such a short time?”

“Things were simpler then,” Ahmadinejad said superciliously, “just as they were simpler when the United States touched off the Barbary wars, starting in 1801, in an effort to impose Western values on Islamic states.”

“But the Barbary pirates had been …” we began, but the president cut us off.

“Pirates!” he snorted. “They were patriots! The forces of western imperialism had long been at work in that part of the world. Why, the United States was a major sponsor of the Christian crusades that made so many unprovoked attacks on the Holy Land.”

“Mr. President,” we said, “the Christian crusades started way back in the 11th century. The United States wasn’t even thought about until late in the 18th century – more than 700 years later.”

“Really?” said Ahmadinejad. “Then how do you account for the American aerial assault that destroyed the Italian cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the year 79?”

“That was a volcano!” we protested.

“That’s what they want you to believe,” he said, “just like the rumor they’re spreading that I’m short.”

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