In a stunning moment of redemption for the embattled actor Mel Gibson, President George W. Bush today awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, telling the star, “Thanks for taking the heat off me this week.”

Mr. Bush, who has spent the summer floundering amid crises in North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, said that Mr. Gibson’s DUI arrest and subsequent anti-Semitic tirade had distracted the media and the American people for a solid week, “And for that I am eternally grateful.”

“You have taken people’s attention from the mess I have made of things,” Mr. Bush said. “And that’s something that even talking about phony issues like gay marriage and immigration could not do.”

Mr. Bush said that the Gibson scandal had given him the “first real vacation I have had all summer.”

Mr. Gibson accepted the coveted medal graciously, telling the president, “The only thing I value more than this medal is my deep and abiding love for every Jew in the world.”

But even as Mr. Bush praised Mr. Gibson for drawing the American people’s attention away from his disastrous performance as president, he acknowledged that the distraction provided by the Hollywood star’s personal meltdown would not last forever.

“Other celebrities must step up and fill the void once this scandal dies down,” Mr. Bush said. “And that means it is time for Paris Hilton to release another sex tape.”

Elsewhere, Michael Jackson’s lawyers announced today that they were quitting in order to work for a less difficult client, Saddam Hussein.

Award-winning humorist, television personality and film actor Andy Borowitz is author of the new book “The Republican Playbook,” to be published in October. To find out more about Borowitz and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate website,


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