Stain on White House likely permanent, experts say


(AP) A team of experts assembled by the Clorox Company, one of the country’s leading manufacturers of cleaning products, has concluded that stains on the White House caused by the Bush Administration are not likely ever to be eradicated, at least using products and methods currently available.

The panel reached its conclusion after an exhaustive, six month study during which parts of the Oval Office, Office of the White House Counsel — once occupied by Alberto Gonzales — and Karl Rove’s White House Policy Director’s office were subjected to a wide variety of intensive cleaning materials and techniques, including industrial solvents of the kind used to mop up oil spills, powerful bleaching agents, infrared and ultrasound, and even — in the case of a section of carpeting and baseboard taken from behind President Bush’s Oval Office desk — months of exposure in a hyberbaric chamber, an instrument that produces an enclosed atmosphere of almost pure oxygen.

“We even tried the old cold water and salt trick recommended by my mom for removing red wine stains from a white tablecloth and it still didn’t work,” explained Chloe Wilcox, Clorox’s spokesperson for the study.

The problem, Wilcox said, is that the staining has occurred repeatedly over the past six-and-a-half years of the Bush Presidency, and has involved a range of agents that, individually, might come out during cleaning, but which, cumulatively, have left marks that resist all efforts at removal. During its investigation, the team of experts was able to identify some of the substances used by members of the Bush Administration to defile, among other things, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, and even one of the few original copies of the Magna Carta, the 14th century document gaurenteeing the right of habeas corpus.

“We found a little of everything on these documents, and inevitably, some of this stuff got on to the walls, floors and furnishings. Vomit, urine, feces, sputum, blood, mud we’ve traced to the Mississippi bottoms near New Orleans, lighter fluid, ink. You name it — we think we even found traces of Nehi grape soda in the mix of things. You remember the time the President said the Constitution was ‘just a piece of paper?’ Well, I guess he meant that literally. We found pieces of the Constitution in the Oval Office lavatory where it had been used by somebody as toilet tissue.

“If we’d been able to get in here and get started five, six years ago, maybe we would have had a chance,” Wilcox said. “But now I’m afraid it’s just too late.”

Though the extent and severity of the staining caused by the Bush Administration has shocked experts, others are quick to point out that they are not the first permanent stains left on the White House. “These are not the first stains, and they certainly won’t be the last, left behind by a President and his administration,” argues Charles Baldwin, author of _A New Broom: a History of White House Hygiene_ . “If you know where to look in the Oval office, you can still see marks left behind by Eisenhower’s decision to overthrow the democratically elected governments of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. The 1963 assassination of President Diem in South Vietnam also left a mark. There are sweat stains from where Richard Nixon sat while conspiring to cover up Watergate, a smudge mark shaped like Chile from the assassination of Salvador Allende and traces of Bill Clinton’s DNA on the carpeting in the galley kitchen off the Oval Office. And the Vietnam era — don’t get me started on Vietnam! The Situation Room in the White House basement still reeks of napalm and Agent Orange and there are charred sections of wall paneling left over from when Robert McNamara tried to demonstrate how to burn out a hootch!”

Although the stain on the White House has been the primary focus of recent news coverage, similar concerns have been raised about the Vice President’s office. But there, Wilcox explained, the clean up job will prove much simpler.

“All the stains in the Vice President’s office appear to have been caused by a single agent: blood,” she said. “Apparently, Mr. Cheney likes to wile away his free time beheading puppies. That makes it a pretty simple clean up job. A little borax and warm water for the easier spots — and, of course, cold water and salt for the places where the blood has really had a chance to soak in.”