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Perception changes with reports of presidential iPod

| Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Startling information about President Bush's personal life has come to light in recent days.

Several media outlets are reporting that he's been using an iPod.

Since July.

According to a story in The New York Times, the president first experimented with an iPod after his daughters gave him one for his birthday.

And it must have been some kind of party.

Because he's been hooked ever since.

It's an explosive revelation that almost certainly will damage the president's credibility among book-burning, Bible-quoting, panties-in-a-twist Republicans.

Although at this point, who cares?

As a second-term president, he can pretty well do as he pleases, be it drill for oil in a wildlife refuge, or startle his constituency by giving in to a pop-culture phenomenon that largely is the province of people who voted against him.

The portable digital-music players, which cost hundreds of dollars, have become so popular that the supply can barely keep up with the demand on the street. The hand-held devices can store and play as many as 10,000 songs in the mp3 format -- that's 10,000 potential opportunities for explicit language, sexual innuendo, populist themes and anti-war sentiment to be expressed.

Come to think of it, it's probably only a matter of time before someone moves to outlaw them. Could be a job for Sen. Santorum.

Although conservatives will probably try to dismiss the reports as yet another attack by the Elite Liberal Media, a White House adviser did not deny the most serious allegation -- that the president shares an unlikely bond with millions of young, open-minded, progressive types who use their iPods to turn on, tune in and drop out.

It would appear that the 43rd president of the United States doesn't just shoot from the hip.

He actually is kind of hip.

Thus far, however, the president has been understandably cautious about being seen with his iPod, which has been assigned the code name "iPod One" by the Secret Service. Sources say that he is a recreational user, wearing it mostly during long mountain-bike rides on his Texas ranch.

He does not use his iPod while meeting with heads of state, formulating policy, considering Cabinet nominees, or deciding when and where to spread democracy. All such matters receive his complete and undivided-ed attention.

And he never, ever uses it in the Oval Office.

Like a lot of famous people, however, the president doesn't procure his supply firsthand -- his supply of music, that is.

As the leader of the free world, he's got an image to protect, and he can't afford to be getting sued by the recording industry.

Instead, he dispatches a trusted intermediary -- Condoleeza Rice• -- to download songs and albums from the official iTunes music store.

According to insiders, artists on the presidential playlist include country singers like George Jones, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney; iconic figures like Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell; and other typically vanilla choices that enjoy widespread bipartisan support. There is no evidence linking his iPod to dangerous, radical thinkers like The Doors, Grateful Dead or even Motley Crue.

It's a playlist that ensures no one can ever accuse him of listening to devil music.

Or even having interesting taste.

Matt Sober is a copy editor for the Valley News Dispatch. E-mail him at msober@tribweb.com, and include the word "story" in the subject line.

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