DAVENPORT, IOWA - Today, the Bush re-election campaign made a surprising announcment, as they have tabbed popular Saturday Night Live alumnus Will Ferrell to appear as President George W. Bush in the upcoming presidential debates.
"This is a good pickup for us," said Bush during his latest campaign stop, "and we think Will Ferrell can represent me as well as anyone can. Don't get me wrong, we care a great deal about the issues, and we want a good, honest, and fair dialogue with Senator Kerry."
"But Americans love Will's portrayal of me, and we listened to what the American people had to say," added Bush, to a round of applause.
The jubilant Bush supporters elevated their applause when Will Ferrell emerged from behind the dais. Ferrell, clad in a dark blue suit, made his first public appearance as the President since leaving Saturday Night Live.
After shaking hands with Bush, Ferrell addressed the roaring crowd.
"We intend to take our message to the Amurrican people," said Ferrell, in an uncanny styling of Bush's pronunciation of America, "and we intend to have a good...debate thingy with Bob Kerrey. And we will be victorious in November on the basis of our...strategery."
The Bush supporters erupted with praise and laughter.
This move by the Bush campaign was not well-received by the pundits.
"It's a mockery. A mockery. It's pandering to a ridiculous extent, and it cheapens the political process," said CNN analyst Bill Press.
"I don't like it. It makes Bush appear as though he's afraid to engage Kerry in substantive debate," said Fox News analyst Newt Gingrich.
"Why did he have to leave?" Lorne Michaels asked, the ache unmistakable in his voice.
The Kerry-Edwards campaign reacted with good-natured amusement. In a press release, a spokesman for Kerry Edwards had this to say:
"We love Mr. Ferrell's work - we think he's fantastic. John Kerry is excited to appear together with Mr. Ferrell, and warns him to be ready for a few 'zingers'!"
Campaign supporters were, on the whole, supportive of the move.
"He is so funny!" said Arlene Streets, 44, a Des Moines secretary, "and he just does him so good! I can't wait to see him give John Kerry all kinds of heck!"
"Wow. Gee, you know, and they say all them Hollywood types hate Bush, right?" asked Peter Mayne, 51, an area farmer.
"Huh! And I always thought they were the same guy," said Craig McCoy, 27, an Ames police officer.
In related news, Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond has been contacted personally by vice president Dick Cheney.