The new Iraqi president will be chosen by the popular TV show American Idol rather than elections on January 30 as originally planned. According to White House sources, continuing violence in Iraq has convinced the administration to seek alternatives to a standard democratic electoral process. The hugely popular show, where the home audience helps select a champion from a flock of aspiring amateurs, is considered a perfect fit for the fledgling democracy.
"American Idol is about voting too, you know," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan, defending the policy. "We always said Iraq would need to develop a form of democracy suited to their culture and values." He refused to comment on concerns that Simon Cowell ranks well below Saddam Hussein in Iraqi popularity polls.
Fox will be slightly modifying the format to choose the Iraqi leader. Rather than singing, contestants will compete in dodging car bombs and appeasing American officials. Network brass hope viewers will find the "Locate the $300 Million That Disappeared" competition especially compelling.
American Idol hosts expressed confidence in their ability to help shepherd democracy into Iraq. "I know just as much about Iraqi politics as I do music," said Paula Abdul. Cowell said he would not hesitate to pull the rug on candidates whose political skills or gravitas were lacking. "Don't worry," he chuckled, "I'll be wearing a bulletproof vest just in case."
Secretary of State designate Condoleezza Rice was clearly taken aback by criticism of the announcement. "This is democracy without the mess," she said. "We are taking the most outstanding American institutions and exporting them to our Iraqi friends. If an amateur can be reelected US President, then Iraq would also be well served by choosing a leader who lacks understanding of both domestic issues and international relations. Twice as many Americans watch American Idol as voted in the last Presidential election. That's good enough for me."
The Iraqi version of American Idol may be just the beginning of reality programming for the Bush administration. Aides hope to produce a slew of reality television shows in place of actual policy in the second term. The next program will the feature the creation of the Federal budget before a live audience in My Big Fat Outta Control Deficit.