Six nuclear warheads walk into a bar.
The bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve WMDs here."
The main warhead replies Dylanesque, "Oh, you'll serve us, pal, or we'll blow this place to kingdom come and let Con Edison take the blame."
The bartender, shaken and stirred, promptly moves to Canada.
This is where we've arrived: President Bush insists the "war on terror" involves parking the U.S. military squarely in the middle of Arabia for year after year. We're up to five now if my math is right, and just two months ago General Petraeus compared the latest surge effort to Britain's experience in Northern Ireland, saying that similar counterinsurgency operations "have gone at least nine or ten years."
I don't know a soul -- of any persuasion -- who bought into the concept of a 15 year Middle East war/occupation as a response to the acts of al Qaeda, do you? Besides, the Emerald Isle was under British control for eight long centuries, and the distance between Belfast and England's coast at Whitehaven is only 82 nautical miles. What possible relevance is that to America's current mess in the desert, six thousand miles away, on the other side of the planet?
Meanwhile, back home, non-mythical nuclear weapons of mass destruction (as opposed to Saddam Hussein's imaginary mushroom clouds) are accidentally carted over red state America from North Dakota to Louisiana without even the pilots knowing the cargo. As Kansan Bob Dole used to say, "Where's the outrage?"
Mistakes happen, yet try and imagine the hue and cry from Republican voters if the past seven years of across-the-board presidential incompetence had occurred under a Democrat, say, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. It would be deafening.
Instead, elephant supporters are silent, while their leading contenders (Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson at the moment) proudly promise more of the same bedrock thinking.
That's the real joke, but nobody's laughing.