Pretzelgate: was it drink, drugs or just salty snacks?

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The Independent US

President George Bush is back on the booze and fell drunkenly off the sofa on to the White House shagpile last Sunday. This, he would be horrified to know, is one of the more prosaic of the theses now circulating on the Net as the whirring minds of the world's conspiracy theorists seek the "real" story behind what they are now calling Pretzelgate.

Others are not sure. The idea of Dubya drinking himself into a stupor with only his two dogs for company is not nearly exotic enough for them. They favour a domestic dispute, where wife Laura, perhaps enraged by her husband's hogging of the pretzel bowl, hits him; the official story of choking on a pretzel, fainting and then falling on the floor being a hastily concocted cover-up.

Meanwhile, a sceptic with medical pretensions has been studying pictures of Bush post-Pretzel, paying particular attention to his face and its abrasions. Noting the "flush across the bridge of his nose" and the "glazed expression" on his face, Cheryl Seal concluded, "the man is on a strong anti-anxiety drug – and a hefty dose at that".

The diligent press, having earlier got Bush's physician on record saying that the President tested negative for alcohol, has also cleared up the other great unanswered question: where was Laura when the snack attack occurred? The final White House words on the subject were: "On the phone, in the solarium", which, unfortunately, are sufficiently redolent of "Cluedo" to set the conspiracists off all over again.

But, Watergate, this is not. Apart from the absence of any trace of illegal payments through Mexican bank accounts, or a shadowy body called the Committee to Re-Erect The President, the affair lacks a Deep Throat. Come to that, so, apparently, does Bush. So it will be left to the wilder shores of the internet to speculate. How long before someone posts the first "14 Coincidences Between Bush and Lincoln"?

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