Poor Bill. It's not easy policing the world from a bus Bill's finger on the button in the back of a bus

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If It were a war of words, we know who'd win. The banality of "When you abuse your own people and threaten your neighbours, you must pay a price'' cannot compete with the poetic terms with which Saddam peps up his army: "Once again the humiliated and lowly Americans have come to perpetrate their often-repeated cowardly act ... But the raid will be full of sublime meaning for the noble Iraqis and their courageous stands and great steadfastness ..." Saddam describes Clinton's missiles as "the hiss of a snake", but the same could be said of Clinton's voice, as wavering and precarious as the legality of his military manoeuvres.

The events of this week could easily never have happened, since the Leader of the Free World, Protector of Oil Rights and Coke Sales, was on a bus, bouncing along the back roads of the Midwest. According to Time magazine, contact with the bus was rather patchy. "The bus could communicate with the White House, but the White House sometimes had trouble getting messages to the bus." It's not easy policing the entire world from a bus.

A diner, somewhere in Wisconsin, Monday.

Clinton: Um, cup of coffee and some waffles. You got a phone? ... Uh, hello? Bill Clinton here. I want to make a collect call to France. President Chirac. Matter of vital importance.

Operator: Sorry, sir. They won't accept the charge.

Clinton: Look, lady, it's important to American interests that I make this call.

Operator: I'm sorry, they say it's not in France's interests.

Clinton: Aw, phooey ... Anybody got some dimes?

Feminism isn't dead - yet! Feminists in India are threatening to disrupt the Miss World contest in Bangalore by burning themselves alive. "We are protesting to save Indian culture from this Western decadence, which is a disgrace to womanhood." The hullabaloo over Miss Universe, who gained either six pounds or seven kilos (reports differ), and is now considered unfit to model swimsuits, confirms their opinion.

But what's to be done about male objectification of women? You can't legislate against it very effectively, and you can't counteract it by treating men in the same way. Men don't really seem to mind being objectified, nor are women very good at it. For all the talk of tight bums and smooth pecs, women still find male strippagrams unsavoury. It takes real hatred of the opposite sex to turn them into proper sex objects, and no matter how much women hate men, men seem to hate us more.

What about all those GPs last year who kept declaring middle-aged women dead, only to find out later in the morgue that they were still alive? Men seem to have an instinct to rid the world of women. This week it was reported that a man cut out his wife's heart and lungs and hung them on the garden railings because she'd complained that the pasta was overcooked.

How many women have endured similar accusations without resorting to butchery? In 1992, another guy stabbed his wife 219 times because she'd stuffed the fridge with vegetables, "hiding the milk", and he wasn't going to stand for it any more.

Despite all evidence pointing to the contrary, it's my firm (or al dente) belief that men were born to serve, and that a man can aspire to no finer aim than to make one woman happy.

Bugger biology, that old excuse about spreading sperm far and wide that sanctions any misconduct. One woman, one happy woman, is all. A man must add something to a woman's life. Instead, they have a habit of subtracting things. They think we don't know maths.

I've been studying Dateline's current advertisement, a questionnaire. Not for me, of course - I no longer see the point of cohabiting for the sake of 10 to 20 minutes' erogenous bliss a week. Sharing a bed is particularly infantile: just because you like each other, does this mean you must battle over bedclothes every night? No, I read Dateline questionnaires purely as a student of life.

The trouble with them is they cater only for the cheery. The questionnaires ask if you're warm-hearted, considerate, adventurous ... They never ask if you're a misanthropic nonentity with an overdraft, whose sole raison d'etre is a large terracotta pot of cannabis on the patio; or an annoying pedant with a keen interest in mummification who believes the world would be a better place if people ate more blueberry pie. How do cynics, pessimists and social outcasts meet each other? These people deserve partners, too!

The Alternative Dateline Questionnaire:

1. When you wake up in the morning, do you think to yourself:

a) oh, glory be, the start of an-

other wonderful day on this su- perlative planet

b) jeez, who let the cat in?

c) who am I?

2. How would your friends most likely describe you?

a) constantly horny

b) guilt-ridden and easily upset

c) paranoid and self-obsessed

d) chatty to a manic degree

3. Build?

a) weeny

b) gigantic

c) somewhere in between but still repulsive

4. Interests?

a) making nuisance phone-calls

b) collecting ancient gynaeco- logical implements

c) psychoanalysis

d) sending chain letters

e) pest control

5. Details of the partner you would like to meet

a) inflatable doll

b) phallic vegetable

c) millionaire

d) sister's boyfriend

e) farmyard animal

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