The Keychain of Doom

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, December 2, 2007

Have you ever woken up in the morning, and then something occurred that was so horrible that it put a dark thundercloud not only on your day, but on your view of the universe as a fundamentally benign place? That happened to me just the other day. I knew I had to call somebody. But who?

Suddenly, it came to me: Only one man on Earth could help me make sense of it all.

Me: I need to talk to a famous constitutional scholar on an emergency basis.

Alan Dershowitz: Okay.

Me: A few months ago, I bought my wife a keychain that counts backward the days, hours, minutes and seconds left in the Bush presidency.

Alan: I have one of those!

Me: Well, yesterday, the number read 440 days. But I woke up this morning, and it said 724 days.

Alan: Omigod.

Me: I know!


Me: So, I needed to try to figure out how this terrible thing could happen. Under what tragic set of circumstances could Bush still be president on November 1, 2009? Is it even possible? Tell me it isn't.

Alan: Well, let's say there is an electoral college deadlock in the next election, and there is no president chosen by January 20, 2009, after which, under the Constitution, George W. Bush is no longer president. Hmm. Okay, at the last minute, I suppose Bush could appoint himself secretary of state, which is third in line for the presidency should the presidency be vacant. So, he could get the job if he could persuade the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate not to want it.

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