Vol. 6, Issue 3, April 8, 2008
Bush, Putin Declare All Nations Part of First World
During a joint news conference in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin announced today that the United States and Russia were officially welcoming the entire membership of the United Nations into the First World, effectively ending a divisive ranking system that has chafed the egos of many countries for years.
"When America was standing tall as the world leader of freedom, it made sense for us to have a scorecard, something people could use to figure out who stood where," said Bush, apparently oblivious to the flash of irritation on Putin's face beside him. "But it's a different world now. It's time for us to level the playing field and welcome decent nations everywhere to the top."
"First, second, third - what's in a label?" said Putin with a smile. "As the two leading democracies of the world, it makes sense for us to confer the benefits we have enjoyed upon the rest of the world, and encourage them to follow in our footsteps."
As part of the official renaming, the U.S. and Russia have pledged to distribute over 150 million "We're #1!" mugs, caps, and t-shirts over the next twelve months, some by airdrop. A warm and inclusive e-mail invitation is also being drafted by a bilateral commission, and is scheduled for completion by November 2009.
Critics allege that the move is a cynical ploy to avoid providing meaningful aid to Third World countries, and demonstrates a willful disregard for political realities.
"It's like declaring that a state of emergency no longer exists because it's been around so long it's become the status quo," argued Brett Thompkins, a spokesman for the Brookings Institute. "The nations that constitute what we describe as the Third World generally have serious economic, social, and political issues. A few don't even have functioning governments. Of course, some might argue that could be said about the United States as well."
Reaction among other First World nations has been mixed, as they were apparently not consulted prior to the announcement.
"I find this totally unacceptable," said Jean-Maurice Ripert, French ambassador to the United Nations. "Does this mean that everyone gets to use the nice bathroom at the United Nations? You know, the one with the towel attendant and those little bars of soap?"
China was particularly incensed, with its embassy declaring that it does not need the approval of either the United States or Russia and that furthermore it is in the process of developing a new ranking system of its own that better reflects current political and economic realities.
"When one factors in population and the ages of our respective civilizations, it is clear that some adjustments are indeed advisable in the rankings," said Ambassador Li Baodong. "In any event, simply lowering the bar and declaring everyone to be a winner is regrettably reminiscent of the American approach to education reform."
Reaction among some former third-world nations was more positive, however.
"That is simply splendid news!" said Chad's ambassador in Washington, Mahamoud Adam Bechir. "Does that mean we'll be getting a Starbucks? Because we could use one of those."