Rip Van Wattle woke up. He had fallen asleep during a Gerald Ford State of the Union speech in 1974 and opened his eyes just in time to see the Madonna video on Ted Koppel's show.

"I must have drunk too much Sleepytime Tea," he said. "Did I miss anything?"

"Not much," I told him.

"Have we beat the hell out of the Russians yet?" he wanted to know.

"No," I said. "As a matter of fact we're now sending them a billion dollars' worth of food because they are not doing too well."

"You have to be kidding," Rip yelled. "Why are we bailing out communists?"

"Because they have become our friends. They're pulling their troops out of Eastern Europe, and we're dismantling all our missiles in Western Europe. There is even a McDonald's in Moscow."

"Now I know you're joking. America would never permit a McDonald's to open in Russia. They could steal our recipe for french fries."

"Rip, I don't know if anyone told you this before, but the Berlin Wall is down and there is only one Germany."

"Why would they do that in a Cold War?"

"Because the Russians decided that the wall was a German problem, not a Soviet one. Germany is one country with one beer and one Volkswagen."

"I'm sorry that I woke up. What other things did I miss?"

"We're practically at war with Iraq because it invaded Kuwait."

"Does that mean we have to fight Syria?"

"No. Syria is on our side."

"How did Iraq get to be so powerful?"

"All the NATO powers armed her when she declared war on Iran."

"Does Margaret Thatcher know about this?"

"She lost her job because the party thought she was too tough."

"As a woman?"

"No, as a man."

"How much is a gallon of gas?"

"One dollar and 60 cents. It will probably go higher, unless we get a deal from Iraq."

"Is Gerry Ford still president?"

"No, he's playing golf. He was replaced by Jimmy Carter who was replaced by Ronald Reagan who spent a trillion dollars fixing up the country. You didn't have any of your money in a savings and loan institution, did you?"

"Just my life savings."

"You're lucky. Some people lost a lot more than that. Are you aware that George Bush is president of the United States?"

"No. Does it have anything to do with me?"

"Not much. Bush wants to fight in Iraq, give tax relief to the rich people at home and veto any equal rights bills. You don't fit into any of those categories, do you?"

"No, I don't. Well, I guess I'll go back to sleep."

"How are you going to do that?"

"I'll watch Dan Quayle talk to schoolchildren."