An amazing plot by the Vatican to assassinate President Bush during Ronald Reagan’s funeral service has been exclusively revealed to The Sleaze. Just minutes before the service was about to begin FBI and Secret Service agents discovered that Reagan’s body had been removed from his coffin and replaced with a powerful bomb, designed to detonate as Bush delivered his eulogy. “It was like a nail bomb, but instead of nails it was filled with hundreds of tiny crucifixes, apparently all carved from a fragment of the True Cross. The President and other bystanders would have been riddled with them if it had gone off,” confided FBI Special Agent Chuck Trizzer . “Luckily the substitution was discovered at the last minute, when Donald Rumsfield found Reagan’s embalmed body sat in a confessional box dressed as a priest – the Defense Secretary was surprised that his confession elicited no response from the ‘priest’, he was expecting at least four ‘Hail Marys’ and a week of self-flagellation.”

Although the White House – wishing to avoid an embarrassing rift with the Vatican – has blamed the plot on Al Qaida (with all mention of crucifixes absent from official press releases), Trizzer has confirmed that three priests and a Monsignor who were working at Washington Cathedral at the time are currently being held at Camp X-Ray on terrorism charges. “After several days interrogation they finally admitted to their part in a plot to assassinate the President,” says Trizzer, who denies that the use of naked women and choirboys to question Catholic Priests constitutes torture. “They claimed that there was no risk of collateral damage from the bomb as only the evil could be wounded by the cross! Only the President would have been killed – and possibly Mrs Thatcher, Tony Blair and maybe half of the cabinet…” The plot was dismissed as the work of dissident Catholic extremists, until a second attempt on Bush’s life was foiled only by the infirmity of his attacker – Pope John Paul II. During the US President’s recent Vatican visit, reporters and diplomats looked on in astonishment as, at a press conference, the Pope attempted to strike Bush down with a huge crucifix whilst his back was turned. However, the wheelchair-bound Pontiff was so weak and infirm that the weight of the cross proved too much for him and he toppled over backwards as he raised it above his head. The octogenarian was left entangled in his overturned wheelchair, weakly attempting to raise the cross whilst spitting Polish curses at a bemused Bush.

“It is his Holiness’ greatest regret that he is not younger and in better health, so as to more effectively fight the evil one, George W Bush,” declares Cardinal Lech Cushat, a top advisor to the Pope who, along with many other senior Catholic leaders, believes that Bush is the personification of the anti-Christ and that the world is on the precipice of the final confrontation between Good and Evil as foretold in the New Testament. “Just look at how his avowed Christian beliefs and desire to bring ‘evil doers’ to justice, is used to justify his war-mongering blood-lust! His ultimate purpose is clear – to lead the forces of evil to victory at Armageddon!” Too weak to effectively champion the cause of good himself, Pope believes that the arrival of a new Saviour is imminent, and has ordered the Vatican to be on the alert for any omens or portents of his coming. Indeed, in late 2002 senior clergy believed that the second coming was imminent, and that according to all the signs, the new Messiah would emerge from the Middle East. Unfortunately, the alleged anti-Christ’s prophets also foretold the Saviour’s coming. “Why else do you think the US invaded Iraq? Surely not to usurp a dictator they had supported for decades?” Cushat says scornfully. “His seers, who include the witch Rice and Nancy Reagan’s astrologer, prophesied that a child would be born in Mesopotamia, a child who would lead the forces of light and establish the Kingdom of God on Earth! Their troops had explicit orders – to slaughter the male children of every family born in December 2002!”

Despite the complete lack of evidence of infanticide on the part of US soldiers in Iraq, Cushat and his colleagues remain adamant that that Bush is the anti-Christ. “There can be no doubt – he is the one the Book of Revelations warns against! For a start, he was not born of a woman,” declares the Cardinal, claiming he means no slight to the matronly and saintly Barbara Bush (although admitting he doubts that even Satan would have slept with her), instead contending that Dubya was, in fact, secretly adopted. “It is obvious – he looks nothing like his father or his brothers! According to legend, the anti-Christ was born of a jackal – it is obvious that Bush was also sired by an animal! Probably not a Jackal, I’ll concede, but possibly an Orang Utang or chimpanzee!” Cushat believes that there are other clear signs that Bush is the anti-Christ. “All the signs of his true heritage are there – does he not speak in tongues? What mortal man can understand a word he says!” rants the Cardinal. “And let us not forget the horns! They are there on his head for all to clearly see! Can people not see his red scaly tail? Have we not all seen those photographs of him personally torturing captives in Abu Ghraib with his pitchfork?”

“Sheesh! What a looney!” opines veteran US political commentator Jacob Keister. “I concede that Dubya is, at best, a mildly amusing buffoon, and at worst a bloodthirsty right-wing ideologue, but I do think that accusing him of being the anti-Christ is going a bit far! Just because he’s an asshole doesn’t mean he is evil incarnate!” Keister is surprised that the Vatican has such antipathy for the Bush regime. “They have so much in common – a history of human rights abuses and support for repressive regimes; scant regard for anyone with opposing views; a reluctance to redistribute wealth and an implacable opposition to contraception and abortion,” he reasons. “Hell, you’d think they’d be congratulating him over his stance on homosexuality, at the very least.” Others are taking the threat from the Vatican far more seriously. “I just thank God they’re Catholics, so we at least won’t have any suicidal priests strapping themselves to explosive-packed crucifixes and hurling themselves at the President’s motorcade,” muses Special Agent Trizzer. “But from here on in, we’ll have to be extra vigilant for poisoned communion wine, exploding bibles and homicidal nuns trying to strangle him with their rosary beads.”