Geneva - Switzerland, the tiny European bastion of neutrality, overpriced timepieces and cheese rocked the international community today when it announced it would relinquish it's centuries-old neutral status with plans to back independent US presidential candidate Ralph Nader.
"We have watched the current US presidential contest with great interest. All we hear is that this is the most important US presidential election ever" stated Swiss Deputy Minister of International Affairs, Franz Vittendi. "After hearing this news over and over on nearly every cable network, we felt compelled to act. Our legislature voted to endorse Ralph Nader for US president and temporarily suspend our neutral status effective immediately."
Governments across the globe were baffled by the announcement. One leader, European Union sitting chair Bjorn Jorgensen of Sweden, experienced a massive coronary on hearing the news and is listed as being in critical condition in a Stockholm hospital.
"The propaganda issued by both the Bush and Kerry campaigns is so eerily convincing. I'm sure you've seen those commercials. Those two scare the bejeezus out of us. We expect other frightened nations will follow our lead over the next few weeks. We wanted to be first, so there."
When asked about relinquishing their centuries-old neutrality, Vittendi summed it up, "Ralph Nader is an independent candidate. So in a sense - a very real and legally-binding sense - he is neutral. We are not permanently relinquishing our neutrality. Think of it as sort of taking a little vacation."
Candidate Ralph Nader, a distant third in the race with approximately 5% of the vote in a recent poll, elated at the news. "My campaign staff says this could boost my numbers by 15-20%, making me a real player just like Ross Perot back in ‘92" he continued. "Statistically, I can win."
President Bush called an emergency meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff plus political advisor Carl Rove to discuss the potential ramifications to the already close campaign.
White House Secretary, Scott McClellan fielded questions from reporters this morning. "The President is deeply concerned about the recent actions of the Swiss government. He feels this could tip the balance of the present geopolitical landscape in ways unfavorable to American interests abroad, especially big oil - er, I mean the expatriate community."
McClellan continued, "look, this is a seriously bad move for the Swiss. The President said he won't take this sitting down. Besides, recent intelligence leads us to suspect Al Queda may be involved. The President hasn't ruled out the possible use of force."
Asked if Secretary of State Colin Powell will enter talks with the Swiss, McClellan apologized, "the President was planning on letting Mr. Powell use his time-share in Cancun and asked that [Powell] not break his plans or else the President would lose his $500 non-returnable security deposit." Adding, "those Mexicans are real sticklers about $500 bucks. I know it's laughable but I guess that's a lot of money to them."
McClellan said that instead of Powell, the President plans to send Deputy Defense Secretary Paul "Don't Gimme No Sh*t" Wolfowitz and the US Army's Germany-based 3rd Mechanized Mountain Division in his place.