SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: First, General Petraeus, I want to thank you for once again appearing before this committee. Your testimony of two weeks ago regarding the political and military situation in Iraq was, in my opinion, factual and invaluable. Indeed, the reason you've been called back here today is to obtain more of your objective, clear-headed assessments on some other equally problematic issues.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: I'll do my best, Senator.
SEN. MCCAIN: I'd like to begin with some questions about my car. But before I start, I want to remind my Senate colleagues that Gen. Petraeus is, in addition to being a decorated soldier and patriot, a veteran car owner and skilled driver with an exemplary record of dealer-performed maintenance and repairs. That said, sir, as someone who's so valiantly serviced his vehicles, I would like your evaluation of the following situation: I'm the original owner of a 1989 Buick Regal with over 175,000 miles on it. Its Blue Book is approximately $500. Last week, the transmission fell out and I was told it would cost $2,500 to replace it. In your considered opinion, General, should the repair be made?
GEN. PETRAEUS: Having recently had the opportunity to closely inspect your vehicle and your own proud service records, Senator, it's clear to me that you've invested greatly in its upkeep and protection. Bearing that in mind, it's my strong conviction that you have no choice but to invest more or all your previous repairs will have been made in vain.
SEN. MCCAIN: Notwithstanding the growing rust problem and pre-existing brake fluid leak?
GEN. PETRAEUS: In my observation, the recent dry weather has slowed the rust considerably if not conclusively and, should it remain dry indefinitely, I'm optimistic it will not spread further. The brake fluid issue is, I believe, irrelevant unless you wish to stop and since, over the course of an average drive, the gas pedal is in use for far longer periods than the brake pedal, the overwhelming majority of said average drive should be free of incident.
SEN. MCCAIN: Your argument is compelling, General, and one I share. The Regal, since its day of purchase, has had and will continue to have my full and unconditional support, despite its unpopularity with my family. I've already made an appointment at AAMCO for next week.
GEN. PETRAEUS: That's a course of action which, given existing conditions, should yield provisional transportation, Senator.
SEN. MCCAIN: I'd like to move on to another subject now, Gen. Petraeus: the Harlem Globetrotters.
GEN. PETRAEUS: Yes, sir.
SEN. MCCAIN: As a former high school basketball player as well as an avid sports fan and ESPN subscriber, can you tell this committee how you see the outcome of tonight's game between the anarchistic Globetrotters and their highly-principled opponents, the New York Nationals?
GEN. PETRAEUS: While it's true the Nationals have experienced some difficulty over the years containing and controlling the Globetrotters in both the front- and backcourts, they're now making significant progress. Momentum is shifting.
SEN. MCCAIN: How so?
GEN. PETRAEUS: The Nationals have recruited many talented new players to their bench, adding depth. They're also falling for the ball-hidden-under-the-jersey trick far less often. And the team is winning the hearts and minds of an increasing number of basketball fans fed up with the Globetrotters' tired shtick. Overall, these changes and other adjustments in strategy should produce a decisive victory for the Nationals in tonight's contest.
SEN. MCCAIN: Frankly, it has long pained me to see such a valiant and dedicated team as the Nationals defeated through the unscrupulous tactics of their opponents and dubious officiating. But I agree, General, that substantial gains are now being made. And in light of recent losses by fewer points, it's clear the tide is turning in New York's favor. Clearly, tonight's game is winnable. Or, if not this one, the next one.
GEN. PETRAEUS: Yes. The next game, or even the one after that, looks even more like it will go the Nationals' way.
SEN. MCCAIN: Alright, General, before my time expires, there's one more very important area I'd like to examine. Recent impartial, non-partisan polls put me a distant third among Republican presidential candidates. Personally, I find that as unlikely as it is unacceptable. But I'd value the informed perspective of a man who has voted in national elections many times and will, I assume, vote again: Is the race over?
GEN. PETRAEUS: Absolutely not, Senator. In the final analysis, anyone unpatriotic enough not to vote for a decorated war hero like yourself is unpatriotic enough not to vote at all, meaning you should receive 100 percent of votes actually cast. Besides, one only has to look at history -- at Washington, Jackson, Grant, Eisenhower -- to know this country always rallies around its warriors. Your nomination and subsequent election are secure.
SEN. MCCAIN: Your historical reference is both valid and persuasive, sir. And rest assured I will continue to make no secret of my selfless military service in my speeches around the country. Now before yielding to Sen. Obama, I'd like to extend an invitation to you to attend my inauguration in January of 2008.
GEN. PETRAEUS: I tentatively accept, Sen. McCain, contingent on how many soldiers' funerals I have to attend that day.
CONTACT BOB WOODIWISS: bwoodiwiss(at)citybeat.com. His column appears here the last issue of each month. His book, Keys to Uncomfortable Living, a collection of humorous and satirical essays, is in bookstores now.