It is no secret that Saddam Hussein has at least five doubles.
Until the war, they had a good life. They could buy clothes from Savile Row, have uniforms made by Italian tailors and eat caviar and drink vintage wine from France.
They could be fitted with their own shotguns and have their pick of the most beautiful women in Iraq.
But suddenly all that has changed. A satellite picked up a conversation among the doubles in Baghdad. They apparently were arguing.
Saddam Double No. 1: "You have to go into the bunker."
Double No. 2: "Why me? I was in the bunker during Desert Storm."
Double No. 3: "I'm not going into the bunker. They're going to bomb the hell out of it."
Double No. 1: "That's the reason someone has to go into the bunker. We want them to think it's the real Saddam."
Double No. 4: "If I had known the role was so dangerous, I would have never taken the job. Besides, my mistress has claustrophobia."
Double No. 5: "Why don't we draw straws for it? The shortest straw goes into the bunker."
Double No. 2: "Where will the rest of us go?"
Double No. 1: "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to surrender to the Americans. They'll think they've captured the real Saddam and they have to respect the Geneva treaty."
Double No. 4: "I'm going to shave off my mustache, grow a beard, go to Switzerland and pretend I'm the real Saddam -- and take all his money out of the bank."
Double No. 3: "I am going to change my name to Mustafa and open a McDonald's in Basra."
The satellite lost the doubles for a while. Then it picked them up again.
Double No. 3: "Suppose the real Saddam finds out we were plotting against him? He'll have his Republican Guard hunt us down and torture us like we did to his enemies when we played him."
Double No. 4: "Couldn't we talk the real Saddam into hiding in the bunker?"
Double No. 2: "He may be evil, but he is not crazy."
Double No. 3: "As long as we're going to all this trouble, I'd like to put his sons in a bunker and have a large Iraqi flag at the entrance so the Americans know to bomb it."
Double No. 4: "The U.S. is going to rebuild Iraq, and if we pretend we're businessmen we can take bribes for everything they bring into the country."
Double No. 1: "We could even get a job in the new government as doubles for whoever gets elected."
Double No. 2: "We'll offer to go on television and tell what it is like to be a Saddam impersonator."
Double No. 3: "Don't forget the movie rights."
While you are reading this, the CIA is sending out signals to the doubles that if they surrender they will get a new name, a safe house in East Hampton and a good-conduct medal.
(c)2003, Tribune Media Services