Isn’t it supposed to be three envelopes?

Here’s the first White House press release from the Obama administration:

At 8:35 AM, the President arrived in the Oval Office and spent 10 minutes alone in the office.  He read the note left to him by President Bush that was in an envelope marked "To: #44, From: #43".  At 8:45 AM, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel came in to discuss the schedule of today’s events.

Did Ehud Olmert tell George Bush the old Israeli joke?

The new prime minister settles in at his desk and finds three envelopes marked in his predecessor’s handwriting. He opens the one marked, "open first." It reads "Congratulations! And sorry to leave you with such a mess. If it persists longer than 100 days, open the second envelope."

The crises, indeed, persist 100 days, and the prime minister opens the second envelope: "Not as easy as you thunk, huh? Never mind: Prepare a televised address, and blame me all you want – my feelings won’t be hurt. If after six months, it’s all still dire, open the third envelope. " And so the new prime minister broadcasts a somber address on national television, and – eloquently, avoiding a directly accusatory tone – says that he was not aware of the depths of the crises facing the nation when he took office, that he will need time to steer the country back to recovery.

Six months later, things are worse than ever. The prime minister opens the third envelope. It contains a single piece of note paper: "Prepare three envelopes," it says.

NEXT STORY