The George W. Bush Presidential Library

An unauthorized preview, with never-before -seen drawings of the interior

By Cullen Murphy and Edward Sorel
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IN THE AUTUMN OF 2005, when George W. Bush had fallen victim to an avalanche of problems, and public confidence was at its lowest ebb, the president's aides were puzzled to see him take a sudden, obsessive interest in planning his presidential library. He would speak of his vision for the library at cabinet meetings, with heads of state, and even while watching NASCAR races. At first those close to him were at a loss to understand his urgency in this matter, but they soon concluded that the president was following some Divine Instruction, imparted to him in a mysterious manner that only he understood, which required him to draw up plans without delay.

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Within weeks the White House announced that the official repository of the forty-third president would be erected on the campus of an evangelical university in Texas, and that the cost would run to about $200 million. One unnamed source says that a secret reception for potential donors had already been held at Halliburton's Houston headquarters, where a model of the library—designed by the head of the art department at Oral Roberts University—was unveiled. The president was careful to assure his Arab guests that despite the building's shape (a "neo-fundamentalist exploration of the cruciform vernacular," in the words of the architect), all denominations would, of course, be welcome.

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Because President Bush has been such a courageous champion for people of faith, he has earned the enmity of militant atheists in the Democratic Party, some of whom (according to defectors secretly interrogated by the vice-president's office) may possess weapons of mass destruction. It will therefore be necessary to insist that all visitors undergo a thorough security check before entering the building. In addition to walking through metal detectors, adults who are not wearing an American-flag lapel pin will be required to take a loyalty oath.

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Once inside, visitors will be greeted by a mural of our Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence. In many ways it is an exact copy of the famous painting by John Trumbull, but with some slight improvements over the original.

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Although we do not yet know how many administration officials leaked the name of Valerie Plame, or how many will be indicted for this or similar services to the nation, a Martyr's Monument to the fallen will anchor one end of the Esplanade of Honor.

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This imposing greensward, visible from the observation deck of the Pavilion of Intelligent Design, will sweep down to the Operation Iraqi Freedom shrine. Although the exact design of the shrine remains to be determined, it will be set amid the "Greet Us With Flowers" wetland, a gift of the Cheney family.

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As the tour nears its end, visitors will want to spend a few moments browsing in The Green Zone, the library's gift shop. As part of the president's continuing economic-recovery program, no sales tax will be levied on shoppers earning $500,000 or more a year.

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Before leaving the library, visitors will have an opportunity to vote for which of the president's initiatives they would most like to see immortalized on a postage stamp. All ballots and comments will be kept secret unless subpoenaed by the Department of Homeland Security.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/01/the-george-w-bush-presidential-library/304533/