George Clooney was sitting on a white plastic chair that reminded Clooney of the seats in the space station in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. He had just finished shooting a scene with Brad Pitt on a brownstone street in Brooklyn, and was now relaxing in his trailer. There was a knock on his door and before Clooney could say a word, the door opened and in walked Ethan Coen, the director of the film Clooney was shooting with Pitt entitled Burn After Reading. Coen closed the door from behind.
“You have a visitor,” said Coen.
“Yeah. Who?” asked Clooney as he sat back in the plastic chair, adjusting his torso to purposely indicate he was not happy with the furniture.
“It’s a little weird, but it is the First Lady,” said Coen.
“What? Who? What first lady?” said Clooney, glancing in the mirror and seeing city grime on his face. Clooney picked up a rag and wiped his face, not fully comprehending what Coen was telling him.
“Laura Bush is waiting outside the trailer and she would like to meet you,” said Coen.
“Laura…you’re joking? She wants to meet me?” asked Clooney.
“Yeah. And the Secret Service wants to scan the trailer first before she comes in here,” said Coen.
“Tell her to visit Pitt’s trailer.” said Clooney.
The trailer door opened and a man in a black suit and tie wearing Ray Bans stepped inside. With the confidence of someone carrying a gun, the Ray Ban man stood erect and surveyed the inside of Clooney’s trailer. Coen moved out of the way.
“Hey buddy, you didn’t knock,” said Clooney.
The Ray Ban man ignored Clooney, unimpressed with the movie star or the fact that Ethan Coen was standing by. Ray Ban man opened the trailer door.
“It’s safe. Bring in the First Lady,” said Ray Ban man. Ray Ban turned to Ethan Coen. “You come outside.”
Coen turns to Clooney and smiled and then followed Ray Ban man out of the trailer.
“What if I want him to stay, asshole,” yelled Clooney.
In walked Laura Bush wearing a dark blue skirt with a navy blazer and white blouse.
“Hello, Mr. Clooney. It is a privilege to meet you,” said Laura.
“I am not certain what to say. Your visit has taken me by surprise,” said Clooney.
Clooney realized that he had remained seated at the arrival of the First Lady. Since Clooney considered himself a gentlemen, he stood.
“I do apologize for my sudden appearance, but I was in Brooklyn visiting with elementary school children, and I thought I would take the opportunity to meet my favorite actor,” said Laura.
“Well, OK. Thank you,” said Clooney. Clooney literally did not know what to say to Laura but for to express his anger at her husband, but he thought that might not be appropriate.
“You are working on a movie with the Coen Brothers. I like their work,” said Laura.
Clooney was a tad taken aback by Laura’s awareness of anything Hollywood. And the fact that she had an opinion about the movies of the Coen Brothers, not to mention liking their work, was also a surprise.
“You are a movie fan?” asked Clooney.
“Who isn’t,” said Laura.
“How do you do it, Mrs. Bush?” asked Clooney, who couldn’t help himself.
“Do what?” asked Laura.
“Live with him, your husband,” said Clooney. The moment the words came out of his mouth, he regretted it. It sounded so classless, and Clooney was a man with class. But then, Laura was married to a man Clooney believed had done tremendous damage to the United States as well as the world, and so maybe the First Lady should not expect to avoid such queries.
“It is difficult at times,” said Laura.
Clooney’s eyes went wide. He could not believe that the First Lady had responded with what had to be an honest remark.
“I’m sorry. I should not have asked such a question,” said Clooney.
“No. It’s OK. My husband does not permit me to speak to him about politics. And so I am left with talking privately to my friends. And daughters,” said Laura.
“Well, your husband would probably benefit by hearing your opinion,” said Clooney.
“You do not know what my opinion is, Mr. Clooney,” said Laura.
“I am going to guess you are not happy with things the way they are. I bet you think Iraq was a monumental mistake that will stain the Bush name forever in the history books,” said Clooney with some trepidation that he was wandering a bit too far down this road.
It is odd. My husband takes solace that there will be some future historian who will find the good in his administration. It somehow keeps him on the path that he is on,” said Laura.
“If you broke your husband’s rule, Laura, and talked to him about what is happening today rather than seeking cover in some future history book that has yet to be written, do you think he would listen? For god’s sake, we are just making everything a be fucking mess,” said Clooney. Whoops. He didn’t mean to swear. “Sorry about that,” said Clooney.
“I will not break my husband’s rule while he is still in office. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate all your movies, and I encourage you to keep making them. They are powerful. Now I must leave. It was nice meeting you,” said Laura as she turned, opened the trailer door and walked out.
“Yes, it was nice…meeting you to,” said Clooney as the door shut.