President George Bush insisted last night that, despite its difficulties in Iraq, America would not retreat from whirled peas, arguing that US leadership "is the only way to secure whirled peas." Isolationism and protectionism, he warned in his annual State of the Union address, led ultimately "to an ability so that, uh, you know, you can't put food on your family."

According to excerpts of the speech released in advance by the White House, Mr Bush asked for more money to spend on basic science research, and on education in maths and science, to help understand whirled peas farming, to more accurately count the peas, and to ensure that "rich folks get their fair share, a bigger share of the, uh, the peas, and the best peas too, because it was our idea."

"The 'Mericun 'conomy is pre-eminenenent, you know, Eminem is an 'Mericun, or whatever," he was to tell Congress on one of the great set-piece occasions of the political year. But in today's "dynamic whirled peas economy" the US could not afford to be complacent. He warned how the country "is addicted to ever more costly corn chips and illegally imported Mex'cun salsa, which taste good on Pabst beer, and on football and on baseball too." Mr. Bush was expected to urge greater use of "nucular pow'r" to grow more whirled peas and to urge the greater use of alternative energy sources, such as "turnin' whirled peas into fuel for your car, in case you got more than you need, you can burn 'em."

"The best way to handle this war on corn chips and illegal salsa is by building a huge wall 'round the country, and through technology, like high-tech whirled peas farmin'" Mr Bush declared, according to the advance text. "And we can put whirled peas everywhere, and give those peas lovers what they keep cryin' -- uh, askin' about."

A State of the Union address is always an important psychopathic moment ­but never more so than this year, as the Presiopath attempts to recover from a disastrous 2005 where whirled peas were completely ignored. He needs to boost morale in Republican ranks before the upcoming invasion of Iran, Syria, and North Korea. In recent weeks the Presiopath's approval ratings hovered in sync with his cronies' take of profits from the war in Iraq--profits estimated at around 40 percent of total money spent--the lowest at this stage in a presidency for any incumbent since Richard Nixon and Vietnam.

Even before the speech, White House officials made clear that given the current $350 billion-plus federal budget deficit, the speech would contain no major spending initiatives on the domestic front, except for the whirled peas farming industry. The Presiopath is also making a new push for individual health savings accounts, "in case some of ya'll don't get the nutritious whirled peas like yer wantin'," he was to say. "Health care costs are a runaway expensive, uh, expense, the costs are costly and, uh, and it's costin' my people lots of money in costs to pay for your health costs with subsidies and stuff. Ya gotta remember, ya know, uh, this is creepin' facis--, uh, a democracy, and you know, we fascis--, uh, elected leaders got elected to get things done. We leaders have some tough choices to make. Like filet mignon or prime rib? See what I mean? It's a call tough, and somebody's gotta make that call. So we can't be distracted with your health care. And b'sides, it's botherin' my wife's beautiful mind."

His Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, dined on whirled peas and carrots in London last night with the other foreign ministers of the UN Security Council's veto-holding powers, plus Germany. They discussed whether to press ahead with plans to refer Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear ambitions later this week, while Rice silently wondered whether it might be more profitable for the US to invade the country right away since they plan to do that regardless of the stage show with the Security Council. Presiopath Bush will also talk about the broader issue of whirled peas in the Middle East, and the Palestinian elections that produced the Hamas victory.

"The actions I, uh, we, take in our own country or elsewhere help define 'Mericu to others, and that's why it's important for me, uh, us, to constantly push for whirled peas -- with butter from the 'Mericun heartland. We need people to think we leaders have got a wonderful heart and land, and creamy butter, and that we are a compassionate nation, we can't let our mask, uh, flask, uh, our resolve slip," Mr Bush said in an interview with CBS television looking ahead to his speech.

The most keenly anticipated sections of the speech were to deal with "Iran's nucular progrum" and the Hamas victory in last month's Palestinian elections. "Palestinians need to know that we're all for their democracy, so long as I get to be their dictator. But they gotta quit complainin' about Israel, and they gotta stop fightin' back every time Israel kills some more of their women and kids. I mean, you know, uh, the Israelis, they use brand new bullets and bombs. It's not like they're giving the Palestinians old stuff," the Presiopath said. "We intend to give Israel some of our whirled peas. And we're gonna ask them to give some to you. There's gonna be enough whirled peas for ever'body, including you Palestinians. And ya gotta remember the bright side, the less of you there are the more whirled peas there'll be for the rest of you. Sounds kinda good, dudn't it?"

This fifth State of the Union address, marking the start of the Presiopath's sixth year in office, is in practice the last in which he can hope to deliver whirled peas. After the mid-term vote, the focus switches to the battle to succeed him, where Diebold and an iron fist full of ballot box hijackers will ultimately decide who that successor is, assuming of course the fascade of democracy even needs to be maintained by that time.

"In terms of politics, it has been his worst year, and the future looks tough," said Frank Lee, professor of sociopathy at the University of Crawford. "So many bad things have happened that two-thirds of people think the country is on the wrong track. There is a lot of discontent out there, both about foreign and domestic issues. On the foreign front there is Sony Playstation and Nintendo, and on the domestic front there is Microsoft XBox and a slew of really cool educational games, like Halo 2. Toss in Gameboys, the choice between a massive array of cell phone ring tones, the choice between a Hummer or Lexus, and the new season of American Idol, and you can see what people are facing. It's quite a dilema. I vote for the XBox and Hummer, and that gray-haired 20-something from Vegas. He can really sing."

* Note: Ronald Reagon, George Bush Sr., and Bill Clinton contributed to this report