Moral campaigners and religious groups have renewed their calls for tougher restrictions on the content of TV programmes following the amazing revelation that President Bush was inspired to invade Iraq after watching hours of documentaries about the Nazis on the History Channel. “Ok, so I know we should have realised how easily influenced he is – we had to stop him watching the Cartoon Network because Colin Powell was getting fed up being hit over the head with a huge mallet, and there are only so many times he could blow up the dog before being reported to the ASPCA – but we were just trying to improve his mind,” laments White House Aide Henry Halls. “How the hell was I supposed to know that the History Channel was in the middle of its 52 week ‘How Awful the Nazis Were’ retrospective?” It is believed that the President was particularly inspired by footage of the Afrika Korps’ sweeping advances across the Western Desert and the ‘Blitzkrieg’ offensives against Poland and France. “Those boys sure weren’t afraid to defend themselves – tanks, planes, bombs, they used the whole goddamn lot before those Polacks and treacherous Frenchie bastards had a chance to attack them! No sir, when terrorists struck at the heart of their democracy – destroying the Reichstag – they weren’t afraid to respond appropriately and declare a war on terror,” he allegedly told an audience of High School students. “You’ve got to admire the way they had the people behind them – you didn’t see any of those damned liberal pinko peace protests in Berlin ! Luckily they didn’t have any of that liberal so-called free press stirring up trouble and printing lies about the government!”

Presidential aides have been quick to play down suggestions that the Administration’s attempts to sell its post 9-11 strategy to the public could, in any way, be compared to the propaganda techniques of Goebbels, and have flatly denied that the Patriot Act was inspired by President Bush’s viewing of a TV documentary about Himmler and the Gestapo. “Yes, I know that we now have detention without trial for terrorist suspects, but this is entirely different from similar measures in Nazi Germany – we are doing it in the context of protecting a liberal democracy, not a repressive totalitarian regime,” Henry Halls told a press conference, adding that Camp X-Ray had not been set up in Guantanamo Bay as a result of the President watching a TV re-run of concentration camp drama Holocaust. These revelations come hard on the heels of claims that the attack on the Twin Towers was itself originally planned as a prank inspired by TV programme Jackass, apparently one of Osama bin Laden’s favourite TV shows “At first we just intended to steal some shopping trolleys, fill them with burning newspaper and then pay some tramps to crash them into the gates of the White House, or something – we were going to film it and send the tape into MTV. But the more we watched Jackass, the more we realised how feeble this would look compared to the crazy deeds of the great Johnny Knoxville. So we came up with the idea of hijacking aircraft and it just snowballed from there, ” Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, captured mastermind of the September 11 attacks, has apparently told American interrogators.

Conversely, the UK has seen a spate of criminal assaults in which the perpetrators have claimed the invasion of Iraq as justification for their actions. “I just did what I’d seen Tony Blair and George Bush do on the telly,” Neville Capon, an unemployed tyre-fitter from Gateshead, claimed at his recent trial for assault and arson. “We’d all known for years that weird bloke down the road was a child molester, like. Not that anyone had ever seen him fiddling with a kiddie or anything, mind. But I decided it was no good waiting for him to grab some poor kid – I had to make a pre-emptive strike, like Bush and Blair against Saddam, and kick the shit out of him and burn his house down . He’s no bloody threat to children now!”

Similarly, several householders who have shot and killed suspected burglars have cited the case of vigilante farmer Tony Martin as justification. “I know the bloke wasn’t actually in my house, but he looked like a burglar. I saw the TV reports about Tony Martin – I’ve got a right to use reasonable force to defend myself and my property,” asserted Lionel Toad, a retired pensions advisor from Beckenham, accused of shooting dead a passer-by two streets from his house with an illegally-held assault rifle. “News At Ten never lies!” Bizarrely, even Tony Blair has tried to use the case of Tony Martin – who had a murder conviction overturned despite shooting dead an unarmed burglar he caught leaving his house – as justification for the invasion of Iraq when questioned at the Hutton Enquiry. “It is quite clear that, like Mr Martin, we were merely using reasonable force to protect ourselves from an imminent threat to our homes and lives – Saddam Hussein could have broken in and burgled us at any time!” the former barrister claimed. However, under cross-examination Mr Blair broke down, sobbing: “It wasn’t my idea, it was the bigger boys, George and Donald, they made me do it!”

Father Abraham Rudder, veteran TV clean-up campaigner and programme director of religious cable TV channel Paradise Television, believes that impressionable and vulnerable members of society are increasingly at risk from what they see portrayed in so-called ‘reality TV’ shows and factual programming, including news broadcasts. “The young, the mentally impaired, the unemployed and the poor – they just aren’t capable of handling the complex ideas and images TV throws at them,” he opines. “They see TV makeover shows like Changing Rooms and believe that they can improve their lives and aspire to middle-class values! They don’t understand that such things are not for people like them! Believe me, most people are happiest when they know their proper place in the order of things and stick to it! It is the same with the news – they just can’t handle the uncertainty and complex issues raised in these reports. It simply disturbs them by suggesting that the world is a dangerous and Godless place! What they need to see are good wholesome dramas and documentaries which reinforce the virtues of existing order of things and the greater goodness of Our Lord!” However, Rudder, who during the 1960s campaigned for Hammer horror films to be banned on the grounds that they were encouraging outbreaks of grave-robbing, vampirism and monster-making in towns and villages the length and breadth of Britain, has rejected allegations that Paradise Television‘s showing of The Greatest Story Ever Told had resulted in a outbreak of crucifixions in areas where the channel was available.