Mark Steel: When Iran met the Great Satan...

Within minutes they were probably flicking through a 'Which Execution' magazine together
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It's such a shame the American and Iranian leaders have taken so long before talking to each other. Because now they've done it, they must realise they've SO much in common. The small talk before the meeting probably went, "You're very lucky being able to imprison your homosexuals the way you do."

"Yes I know, when our God thinks about what they get up to, it makes him squirm."

"Well it does with our God as well, especially rimming, but these days if he tried to destroy Sodom to wipe out sin he'd have some PC human rights activist kicking up."

"Oh what a shame, and don't get me started on evolution."

Within minutes they were probably flicking through a Which Execution magazine together. The Iranians would have been fascinated by the modern models, cooing "Ooh, what's that one?" And the Americans would boast, "Ah that's a plasma screen lethal injection chamber, high definition so you get to see every drop of sweat."

"Ah you're very inventive," the Iranians would say, "But I think there's still a lot to be said for the rustic beauty of the traditional sword through the neck."

As they got on to Iraq they'd be like two strangers coming to realise they'd both lived within a few yards of each other. The Americans would say, "You know we fought a war with Saddam," and the Iranians would reply "Really? So did we, all through the 1980s."

"Bloody hell, we were there just after," the Americans would say. "Did you bomb that market place on the road to Basra?"

"Yes yes I know the one, we drenched it in mustard gas," the Iranians would say, "My my, what a small world."

By the end they must have been like friendly neighbours, with the Iranians licking their lips and saying, "Hmm, your uranium looks MARVELLOUS, it's so enriched," and the Americans saying "Yes it has come out rather well. I must give you the recipe."

But the meeting also suggests things haven't gone as planned for the architects of the "Project for a New American Century". This was the scheme designed to deliver what the US defence department called "Full Spectrum Dominance", providing their military with global dominance, and there were 16 signatories to this project in George Bush's first cabinet.

It's doubtful that, as they were drawing this up, one of them stood by a flip chart explaining: "Right, here's the plan. We identify our enemy countries as an axis of evil. Then after a couple of years we beg them to help us clear up our mess. Now is everyone clear what their job is - Wolfowitz, you're going to be sacked. Rumsfeld, you're going to be sacked as well. Bolton, you're going to appear increasingly mentally ill, and George, you wander about in a daze and try to think of a word. Now LET'S GO!"

Having declared them "Evil", it's humiliating for the Americans to ask Iran to help them. It's like a boxer at a weigh-in, snarling at his opponent, "I'm gonna take you apart and make you squeal like a pig, asshole, you're getting torn up like a tadpole. Here, could I borrow a tenner to get home please? I'm a bit short until my Jobseeker's Allowance cheque comes through. Cheers."

But they're a bit stuck for options as their occupation becomes increasingly unpopular. The latest reason for this might be the law passed last week that hands American companies the profits of 63 of the 80 oilfields in Iraq, plus profits from any oilfield discovered in the next 30 years. They like to cover their bases, don't they? They should add a clause that includes any oilfield discovered in an Iraq in a parallel universe or a fifth dimension or that is only accessible through the back of a child's wardrobe.

In response, Al-Sadr called a vast demonstration of Sunnis and Shias, and the unions at the oilfields called a strike. So now the Americans have to get one part of the axis of evil to help them destroy another part. Maybe they'll ask Iran if they could also help them bomb Iran, as that would be easier with their help as well.

Soon, supporters of the war will be able to apply for special status as a minority. They'll be able to claim compensation if they're subjected to ridicule because of their unorthodox fringe beliefs, and get a sticker so they can park their car right next to the supermarket.

The peculiar part about the figure of 14 per cent is that it includes every single leading figure in the government, all of whom are adamant they must "listen to the British people". Maybe what they mean is, "We must listen to all the people very carefully, and then ignore them. At the moment we are only doing this with 86 per cent of the people, which is a start but we must do better. And we will not rest until waiting lists are down to zero, with every single person being listened to and ignored within 24 hours of making an appointment."

So hopefully at least the Iranians had a bit of fun when the Americans arrived. Maybe the US delegation was led into the office and sat on tiny stools in the middle of the room, while a huge bodyguard with a metal hand stood beside them, and the Iranian sat behind a vast desk and said, "So - Mr Great Satan - we meet at last."

Or perhaps they'll soon be the best of friends, America and Iran jointly presenting a TV evangelist programme to replace the late Jerry Falwell, with Bush screaming, "We ain't no monkeys, brothers and sisters," and an Ayatollah howling, "Rejoice."