VATICAN ((AP) As hundreds of mourners walked past Pope John Paul II's body which was laying in state in the frescoed Apostolic Palace, many hushed whispers broke out as the people got close to the body. The mourners generally remained respectful and said prayers for the Pope, but all attention seemed focused on the Pontiff's shoes. "Look at His Holiness' shoes," said one elderly veiled woman, "I've seen those shoes before!"
Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather, on special assignment to cover the Pope's funeral, was quick to pick up on the crowd's interest in Pope John Paul II's shoes. "I know a good story when I see one!" said Dan Rather. "It isn't every day that a Pope dies, but when they dress him up in those shoes for his funeral, there must be some kind of hidden Papal message."
A British tabloid photographer was able to get in and sneak a picture of the Pope's feet. "I had one of my buddies create a little commotion over by the door to divert the attention of the Swiss Guards. That gave me just enough time to snap a picture of the Pope's feet."
Once the photograph was published, people all around the world immediately recognized the Pope's shoes. In the United States, the photograph was the hot topic of the day on TV news shows. "What is the meaning of those shoes?" asked Paula Zahn. "Every kid in the world who has seen The Wizard of Oz' knows whose shoes those are. How did they wind up on the feet of Pope John Paul II?"
Chris Mathews said, "I'm a good Catholic... and I never got a chance to wear those shoes."
Looking confused, Jon Stewart said, "What shoes are you talking about?"
Spoof reporter Morgan Truce tracked down the one person who is widely recognized as the authority on those special red shoes. "Tell us how you think those slippers wound up on Pope John Paul II's feet."
"I've been trying to get my hands on those Ruby Slippers all my wicked life. First that nasty little girl Dorothy snatched them from me and used them to get back to Kansas. That wasn't fair at all! I know how to use those slippers better than anyone --- even the Pope! When he died last week, the Ruby Slippers suddenly appeared on his feet. I cannot tell you exactly what would happen if someone clicks those heels together three times, but it would not be a good thing for all those Catholics. Please give me those slippers before something terrible happens to the Pope's cute little dog!"
In an earlier photograph, President George W. Bush tells His Holiness, "Hey Pope, I really like your shoes!"