CRAWFORD - This town of 705 souls, located half-way between Austin, the headquarters of Dell Computer, and Fort Worth along the Chisholm Trail, is the last place on Earth where one would expect to find, much less court, controversy.
And W. Leon Smith, Editor In Chief of the town's newspaper, the Lone Star Iconoclast, would be the last editor on Earth to face the dilemma of a leaked, most likely classified, document.
Crawford is as unremarkable as its geography: flat, without a bump in sight as far as the eye can see. It has arid summers, with rarely a breeze. And until George W. Bush, who calls this place home, was elected president, anonymous.
"Then," Smith said, "a bombshell came over the transom - a copy of a love note from President Bush to his supposed adversary, Cindy Sheehan. We expected it at first to be a practical joke. Then, we had it independently examined by a handwriting expert, who declared it authentic. We were thunderstruck."
"We're a small paper," he explained. "We don't have the resources, legal or financial, of the New York Times. But we didn't want to be like Bob Woodward, or Judith Miller. We simply were not going to sit on it, nor delay publication. The Fourth Estate dropped the ball on weapons of mass destruction, and we were not going to repeat the debacle."
Smith went on, "Somehow, word of our possession of this copy spread through Crawford's grapevine. We first started getting telephone calls, with the number blocked on our Caller ID. Then, chilling letters without a return address, came through the U.S. mail. And each different letter listed the home address of a different staff employee. Each letter was written in block letters, using human blood. And each letter carried the same threat: if we published the love note, the townsfolk would come to our homes after midnight, carrying torches, pitchforks, silver crosses, and be armed with revolvers loaded with sterling silver bullets."
"We were not going to be intimidated," Smith said. "I personally am not afraid of bullets made from sterling silver. Lead bullets concern me, to be frank, but how many sterling ones could they really make, with the price of silver today."
"And so, we published it."
My Dear Cindy:
I'm truly sorry about your son. When you first came to town, I really wanted to invite you to the ranch. Laura wanted to have you over for coffee, but Dick and Karl said no way. They've stuck by me for thirty years, and when they say no,' it's no. I hope you understand.
I hear you're not getting along too well with your husband, so here's the plan: Laura is going to be away on one of her literacy crusades, Rove is going be in DC meeting with his barracuda lawyers, and Cheney is at one of his "undisclosed locations." Wanna know something? Those "undisclosed locations" is Walter Reed. He's with his cardiologist! Isn't that a gas?
I know no illegal weapons were found, but I have something in my pants that should be declared illegal, if you know what I mean. Cindy, darling, I really want to hear from you.
I have a cell phone that's not monitored. The number is [number redacted]- please call me. I can't wait for that phone to chirp.