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DISSATISFACTION WITH the United States’ sanctions on Iraq has migrated from society’s unwashed hippie fringe into the well-scrubbed hippie mainstream. Saddam Hussein sees a potential weakness in the American resolve—"Thanks to our accursed free press," grumbles the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs—and begins "training exercises" along the border with Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon is pushing for action while angry denunciations from Hollywood actors and Iraqi children dominate the evening news.

THE PRESIDENT WOULD set up a war room in the White House, bringing together the Joint Chiefs, the State Department and the special effects wizards at Digital Domain. While the other officials look on, Bush would guide director Jim Cameron’s team in constructing an intricate scale model of Iraq and detailed miniatures of American armaments. Dick Cheney would drone on as Bush rearranged the model tanks in various configurations, yelling, "Fire in the hole!" and "Go on without me!" when appropriate. After much saber-rattling by Israel and the Saudis, Saddam would pull back his forces. Bush would learn of the developments after he emerged from his war room a week later covered in sand and plastic trees.

take this opportunity to hold his first presidential town hall meeting to gauge popular opinion on the sanctions and practice smiling. Boy, would he get an earful. Quickly putting a moratorium on town hall meetings, Gore would line up a global coalition of allies and draw a "line in the sand." The conflict would escalate into a brief but destructive war that would leave Saddam in power. An economic downturn would contribute to Gore’s loss of the White House less than two years later. Campaigning for his wildly popular daughter years later, Gore would return to the public spotlight, crankier and more lax about his grooming.

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