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Bush Nominates Sesame Street's Bert as Secretary of State
President Bush this afternoon officially nominated Bert, his national security adviser and a longtime confidante, to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state.
"The secretary of state is America's face to the world, and in Bert's pointy yellow head and orange nose, the world will see the strength, grace and decency of our country," Bush said. "At the same time, his heavy black unibrow will broadcast America's determination and force of character."
If his nomination is confirmed, Bert would become the first Muppet ever to serve as secretary of state.
"In my 35 years of experience in foreign affairs, in and out of government and Sesame Street, I have come to know the men and women of the Department of State," Bert said, adding he had "the highest respect and admiration" for the counting and alphabet skills of the department's employees.
"During the last four years, I've relied on Bert's counsel, benefited from his experience and relied on his sound and steady judgment and fashion sense," Bush said in announcing the nomination Tuesday at the White House. "Plus, Bert taught me to appreciate bottle caps and pigeons. That's a gift beyond measure."
Bert, 35, was an educational consultant and performer on the long-running children's program Sesame Street from 1969 through 1999, when he was tapped by the Bush campaign to reach out to the "conservative, sensible" community in New York. Following Bush's election in 2000, Bert was appointed national security adviser to the surprise of many.
"You know, Bert's always been focused on the details," said former co-worker Ernie, who still serves as an executive producer on Sesame Street. "He's not really a 'big-picture' kinda guy. I don't question his integrity, but I do wonder if he's the right person to succeed Colin Powell."
There are also questions about whether Bert's international image will have the same credibility as his widely respected predecessor. For some people abroad, the humorless yellow Muppet's glowering countenance has been a poster-child for the evils of the American system. In fact, "evil Bert" is a recurring image in many anti-American demonstrations around the world.
Despite these concerns, though, Bush says he has "full confidence" that the diminutive, wing-tip wearing Muppet can appropriately represent American interests abroad.
"Bert and I are very much alike," said Bush. "I know that, when he walks into those meetings with world leaders, it would be just like me being there. I could not represent American interests better myself."