President Bush said he would call for an independent, non-denominational commission to investigate intelligence failures regarding the predicted date of the Rapture.
"I want all the facts. We do know that [alleged lord and savior Jesus] Christ has the intent and capabilities to redeem the true believers, we know he was the Son of God... He inspires millions of people," the president said. "So where in tarnation was He in January?"
The president's decision comes after rising pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to respond to information suggesting that the clergy and scholars charged with setting dates for supernatural events overstated the authenticity of the Bible's stories and parables.
Last week, chief U.S. holiness inspector Billy Graham told Congress that the use of intelligence to assess mythological evidence and create an empirically-derived result, which led to many people to prepare for the Rapture, was flawed.
"My view was that the best evidence that I had seen was that Jesus was indeed coming. It turns out we were all wrong, probably, in my judgment, and that is most disturbing," Graham said.
During the hearing, Graham also urged Congress to begin an investigation into why intelligence amongst people who read truth in mythological documents was lacking.
"It's really up to you and your staff on behalf of the Christian people to take on that challenge. It's not something that anyone from the outside can do. I do believe we have to understand why reality turned out to be different than expectations, estimate and the fantasies we create in our heads when we've been reading the same book over and over until we believe that it's infalliable," Graham added.
President Bush's decision, which reverses his earlier opposition to a probe, also follows attacks by Democrats, moderate Republicans, libertarians, socialists, and the entire remainder of the population with an IQ above 50.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry (D-Ma.) has said Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney chose apparent instances of questionable intelligence that supported their case against homosexuality and "house music that makes his daughter dirty-dance with the eligible son of an Ecuadoran businessman in New York hot-spots," misleading legislative tastemakers during debate over whether to mandate heterosexual marriages and reenactments of the Lawrence Welk show.
The president did not set a timetable for the investigation, but the findings are not expected until after the presidential elections in November, by which time Bush believes "Jesus will come, I can just feel it. I mean, what's the delay here? I really can't stand to look at these poll numbers for much longer."
By establishing the commission himself, President Bush will have greater control over its membership and mandate, which according to White House officials, will be broad-- to examine America's "intelligence challenges regarding taking word-for-word a 1,800-year-old book believed to have been completed 200 years after most of the events described therein, in the context of 21st century reason, or 20th century reason for that matter."
In addition to examining the possible misjudgments of the Final Judgment in Revelations, the panel will examine problems in gathering information in such secretive, out-of-the-way books as Kings II and Titus, as well as "Godless volumes" such as the Koran, the Mahabharata, the I Ching, The Upanishads, the Tao-te-ching, The Odyssey, Mother Goose, and that big chunk of the Bible that comes before Matthew.
"What we don't know yet is reconciling what we believed and what failed to happen, and we want to look at that," the president said. "But we also want to look at our war against common sense and personal enjoyment, kind of in a broader context."
On Sunday, Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, said that the president will get commission members from experts who are "very distinguished clergymen and women, who have served their country and who have occasionally used their intelligence."
Problems with intelligence are not new. The United States has faced additional intelligence shortfalls, most recently in the failure to sign global treaties to keep air breathable, squandering 99.9% of the international goodwill it had received after the Sept. 11 attacks, and high ratings for the Fox TV series The Simple Life.
Billy Graham summed up some of the problems in intelligence-having in a discussion with Jim Lehrer on the PBS NewsHour last week.
"We're being told that we are not very good as an evangelical community in our intelligence at reading the most fundamental subtleties in religious texts-- what are its historical contexts, or what is reality as opposed to fantasy built up over 2,000 years of being told you'll burn in hell if you don't believe every word? What we do need is Christians in the pews penetrating those texts with their own narrow agendas and people who are speaking the language of die-hard faith, so as to remove any speculation that we might have been wrong at some point," Graham said.
Added Bush, "When the Judgment comes to pass and Christ redeems his faithful flock, myself included, and leaves heathen like [gay Massachusetts Senator] Barney Frank and [Jewish former White House press secretary] Ari Fleischer to endure seven years of Earth-bound tribulation before being sent to the flames of Hell for all eternity, I sure don't want my lord and savior to think we didn't try to cover our asses."