Travel: Karaoke and sax with President Bill

Click to follow
The Independent Travel
TOMORROW is 4 July, American Independence Day. There is time for Bill Clinton to enjoy a few fried cat-fish snacks and a bit of down- home celebration before he heads off for Tokyo to sit as the leader of leaders at the G7 summit.

This is Bill's awesome journey into the heart of abroad, a Boy's Own package trip with a plane of his own. He does not enjoy a reputation as a great world traveller, but neither does his British counterpart. John Major had never been to the United States until he became Chancellor of the Exchequer. True, Bill did go to Oxford on that Rhodes scholarship; and the summer after, he took a train for Sweden and Moscow, presumably to see both blondes and Bolsheviks first-hand. But unlike some other young Americans who went to Vietnam, or Europe, or even overland to India, Bill went home to play the saxophone and run for President.

So what does the less-than-well travelled President think of his fellow leaders? If we could peak into his thought bubbles, what would they reveal? The private mind of the American leader is a complex place. He is a man of quick wit and many parts, representative of his country and his generation, and when he meets his colleagues from around the world, he will probably be thinking several things at the same time.

Of the Japanese: they make great TV sets. These people bombed Pearl Harbor. These people eat raw fish] These people stole Hollywood and Rockefeller Center. They gave us karaoke.

Of the Germans: they make great cars and, if I were not President, I'd sure like one of those sporty red Mercedes. These people started World War Two. These people eat salami for breakfast. Herr Kohl also jiggles when he walks.

Of the Italians: I cannot remember which head of state this one is, but who cares? These are the people who gave us Frank Sinatra, Mario Cuomo and the Pizza Pie.

Of the French: they sound smart. They speak great French. They'll sell weapons to anyone. I never could do the subjunctive. Their real problem is the music: Johnny Halliday is not Elvis Presley.

Of the Canadians: I wish we had a national healthcare system that worked. They are a separate, unique people and we must not condescend, even if there are only 26 million of them. Of course we own them. Canada gave us Ruby Keeler, Mary Pickford, Joni Mitchell, Percy Faith and Superman. They invented Saturday Night Live.

Of the British: They gave us the Beatles. They love Elvis. They speak English. They won the war. I did not inhale at Oxford. This Prime Minister and his party tried to screw me during the election by helping George Bush. You mean this guy is almost the same age as me?