With stocks falling, oil prices rising, jobs being outsourced to other countries and relations with the roiling Middle East choppy at best, President George W. Bush announced a full-scale plan to cut back Happy Hour by six minutes in the United States.
"I know this is drastic, my fellow Americans, and I didn't want to do it," said the president in his first major address of 2008 on Wednesday. "We hold a sacred trust with drinking, carousing and believing the world revolves around us, but I think we ought to tighten our belts and sacrifice a little bit. Let's try it for a few months and see how it goes."
Bush aides said the president expected a barrage of criticism from know-it-all pundits and East Coast jerk-wads.
"Now understand, I'm not calling for an all-out curtail-ation of Happy Hour," Bush said. "That would signal to the world we're just a bunch of Nervous Nellies. No, I fully endorse bellying up to the bar after work, doing shots, making obscene comments, mocking the underprivileged, particularly the Third World, and pointless high-fiving. That'll never change.
"But rather than raise taxes, I'm tackling the grave issues facing our nation head-on. I have spoken with world leaders and have their unanimous support. Well, except for the Irish. They said six minutes is the equivalent of a six-pack, and who in their right mind walks away from a six-pack?"
Bush said his historic move would show everyone the U.S. is serious about the world condition, just not the Kyoto Protocol.
Bush's plan covered Happy Hours at restaurants and bars, but said nothing about taking the party outside and drinking in parking lots, or drinking and driving.
"I steadfastly refuse to tell Americans we can't drink and drive, as is our constitutional right," he said. "Is 'steadfastly' really a word?"
Bush said that to soften the blow of lost Happy Hour time, he would initiate legislation lowering the price of nachos and cheese, and barbecue sauce-covered weenies on a toothpick.
He also said using the term "Happy Hour," although not technically 60 minutes anymore, would still be acceptable and legally binding, so as to discourage petty lawsuits for false advertising.
"For years, our schools have been teaching students to round-off numbers instead of stressing exact answers, so our young people understand what I'm talking about, even if nobody else does," Bush said.
Some segments of society will crucify what Bush called a far-reaching and well-thought out plan, but the president asked for patience until Phase II is announced in a month or so.
One White House insider said Phase II calls for a higher class of girl to work in strip joints, which is intended to pacify the Democrats, who, the president anticipates, will be publicly outraged, but privately grateful.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the president wanted to give American girls who have had their breasts enhanced for men's enjoyment first dibs on those lucrative jobs, and not see them bolt for Japan or Saudi Arabia.
"Our great nation is in debt to them," the president was heard to say. "They'll put the happy back in Happy Hour."
Phase II is set to coincide with the release of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition.