Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni yesterday and outlined a plan for negotiating peace in the war-torn region. But first, the two leaders had to agree to take an Outward Bound course with the secretary, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The course which includes segments of white water rafting on the Tigris-Euphrates River, mountain climbing in the Caucasus Mountains of southwestern Armenia and orienteering in North Africa's Sahara Desert was created specifically for the two leaders and is said to be one of the most challenging in the program.
"Our goal is to bring these men, all of them, to their knees. We want them face-to-face with their creators. No more hubris," said Outward Bound director and CEO Johnny Rapel.
Outward Bound has programs in the Andes Mountains, Central America and Patagonia that are difficult Rapel said, but felt like this one specifically designed for these leaders, with stints down unheard of "class 7" white water rapids and 2,000 foot, 20 pitch mountain climbs, would take the cake.
Outward Bound is a program that was founded in "the tumultuous waters of the North Sea" in 1941 during WWII by, Dr. Kurt Hahn. Its purpose was "to provide young sailors with the experiences and skills necessary to survive at sea."
As one can imagine, it's a highly experiential program that tests physical endurance as well as team building skills and handling mental duress. Participants that "graduate" from Outward Bound Schools usually grow beards like Castro and are more confident about themselves and their ability to act, often displaying a team approach to problem-solving rather than the usual "rugged individual" approach. For many, it's a rite-of-passage into manhood.
"You cannot go through this program and not be a team player," said Rapel. "You won't survive if you try to do it all by yourself."
Critics say that they are surprised that President Bush, given his penchant to "cowboy" American's foreign policy, agreed to go on the trip and questioned the president's motives as a possible publicity stunt.
But the president assured the American people that it was not a publicity stunt and that he sincerely wanted to go on the trip and possibly negotiate a peace between the two nations on the side.
Everyone knows that the president is an avid nature lover despite his best efforts to sabotage her.
Vice president Dick Cheney said that he was looking forward to the possibility of doing some hunting while on the trip, but would not be allowed, for obvious reasons, to hunt during the course.
Schwarzenegger was said to have been back in the weight room getting ready for the trip and jogging along the beach and didn't want to put to test his new health care initiative in California to test right away.
The leaders will join Rice and the two prime ministers on Monday for their month-long adventure.
In other news today, in an effort to "clean house" and start all over, the Catholic Church was reported dropping Vatican priests into the North Sea. A spokesman for the church said that it was the only real way to get rid of the corruption that has begot the Catholic Church in recent years.
"If they are caught by crab fishermen, then so be it," he said. "It was God's will."
Reinactors for the Mayflower Preservation Society in Jamestown said that it was a haunting reminder of what 18th century Puritans did to persons suspected of being a witch.