President Bush keeps referring to the discovery of Iraq's missiles as "the tip of the iceberg."

There are some, not many, who feel that if weapons are the tip of the iceberg, then Mr. Bush is captain of the Titanic.

Let us suppose it is so. The captain speaks. "Mr. Rumsfeld, stay on course, straight ahead."

"Aye, aye, sir."

Mr. Ashcroft, in the crow's-nest, rings his bell and says, "Hard rudder right. Iceberg straight ahead."

The captain says, "Full speed astern!"

A passenger and large donor to the captain's steering campaign asks, "What have we struck?"

"An iceberg, but don't worry. My father ran into them in these waters all the time. Alert damage control. If there is an inquiry, we will testify we only saw the tip of the iceberg."

"Aye, aye, sir," Mr. Rumsfeld says. "I tried to steer around it, but it was too late."

The captain says, "Close all the watertight doors and don't let the passengers know that anything is wrong."

Chunks of ice are flying all over the deck.

The captain orders Mr. Powell to go below to see how much damage there is. He reports the ship is taking on water, but the damage can be repaired.

Quartermaster George Tenet reports to the bridge that his crew will go along with the captain's tip-of-the-iceberg story, but they are still worried there could be a large gash in the hull.

Mr. Rumsfeld gets on the loudspeaker and says, "Attention, passengers, we are prepared to run into any iceberg any time, anywhere, before it runs into us."

Mr. Ashcroft says, "I have a thousand people in the brig. What should I do with them?"

The captain says, "Keep them there. They may have information on icebergs that we don't have. Mr. Powell, are there any foreign ships in the area?"

Mr. Powell responds, "A French freighter, a German tanker, a Russian tugboat and a Chinese junk, but none of them will acknowledge our SOS. The only one responding is a British destroyer."

The captain says, "Keep trying. Maybe the Bulgarian navy will answer our call."

Mr. Rumsfeld, how are we fixed for lifeboats?"

"We have the most modern lifeboats in the world, as well as the most powerful flares. I have assured the passengers that if we don't destroy the iceberg now, we will have to destroy it later."

The captain asks, "Where is Mr. Cheney?"

"We don't know, sir. He is hiding on the boat somewhere, but he has been ordered not to go near the bridge in case something happens to you."

The captain says, "How much water are we taking in now?"

"So far the only complaints I've gotten are from the first-class passengers, who hope to get a rebate in case the ship goes down."

The captain says, "Lower the lifeboats."

"Yes, sir."

His order could not come at a better time. The orchestra starts playing "Nearer My God to Thee."

(c)2003, Tribune Media Services