Mark Thomas

President Bush has declared a War on Hormones and is set to do battle with every teenage erection, s

When the rumours started about a month ago that Bill Clinton was in negotiations to host an Oprah Winfrey-style TV talk show, I prayed: "Oh Lord, let it be true." I hope it sets a trend and soon ex-leaders all around the world will be presenting daytime television. Wouldn't you love to hear the phrase: "And now over to John Major for the weather"? Perhaps Tony Blair's next job will be to sit alongside Richard Whiteley, smiling with an open dictionary as he pronounces: "Well, we've found a seven-letter word."

As for Clinton, I hope he gets the show, but, more than that, I hope Monica Lewinsky is booked to appear on it. I want to see her sitting on some cheap red sofa, while the strapline runs across the bottom of the TV screen, reading: "My boss stained my dress and won't pay the cleaning bill." I want to see the incredulous members of the audience standing up, pointing and shrieking: "Girlfren, yew gotta learn to love yo'self, cos yew ain't gonna get none outta yo' boyfren." I hope they go the whole hog, with Clinton doing a Jerry Springer-style roundup at the end of the show before saying: "Join us for tomorrow's show, 'My wife caught me cheating so I had to bomb Iraq!'"

The trouble with playing this kind of "fantasy politics" is the more absurd the suggestion, the more likely it is to become policy. As you might expect, the best examples of political surrealism come from America. Only last week, the Bush administration was refusing to sign a UN declaration on children's rights unless the UN's current plans for sex and health education in the developing world were changed to teach sexual abstinence before marriage. Had this measure been adopted, it would have, in effect, curtailed the right to information about sexual and reproductive health for many young people. Yet the very existence of President Bush himself is a compelling argument not just for chastity before marriage, but also for chastity within marriage, and, just to be on the safe side, chastity after marriage as well.

Despite these measures being defeated on 10 May, we must assume that Bush's agenda has not changed. So, not content with bombing Afghan civilians, preparing to kill Iraqis and hurling America back into the McCarthy era with his anti-terror laws, Bush plans to eradicate teenage sex before marriage. He has declared a War on Hormones and is set to do battle with every teenage erection, secretion and moistening in the world. It is a war he cannot win unless he wires up every teenage penis to receive electro-shock therapy every time its owner has a sexual thought. Unfortunately, the rules of fantasy politics dictate that if this idea hasn't crossed Bush's mind yet it soon will, and we could end up seeing US generals briefing the White House press corps on "Operation Enduring Voltage".

Heaven knows what he plans for teenage women? But as two of the handful of countries to support the US in this matter were Sudan and Saudi Arabia, I am sure Bush's new allies will think of something suitably barbaric.

Bush was joined on his Johnny Jihad by various other Islamic states and the Vatican, and thus temporarily removing Iran, Iraq and North Korea from the "axis of evil" league table. The Vatican's presence is to be expected; it is so opposed to human pleasure that it should be renamed the Vatican't. It has long believed that sex should only occur within marriage, an idea made all the more ludicrous by its reluctance to condemn its own priests buggering kids.

The US Christian right wing has made inroads into the White House, and on sexual health it is at the heart of policy-making. Nowhere is this more evident than the case of John Klink. Francoise Girard, from the International Women's Health Coalition, pointed out: "Klink was the strategist for the Holy See at previous international conferences; now he is part of the US delegation." Should the Vatican allow us to conduct the Rizla paper test, we would see that you couldn't put said paper between the US and the Vatican on this issue.

The idea that you can help the people of the world by forcing health workers in Aids-ravaged countries in Africa to tell children not to have sex is monumentally stupid and dangerous. As Jean-Michel Piedagnel, director of Medicins Sans Frontieres, said: "Sexual health is a life and death issue for millions." The UN estimates that nearly 4.3 million children have died from HIV/Aids - including 580,000 under-15s in 2001.

Those children's deaths were preventable, and the US wants to throw more children on to this pointless pile for the sake of the Christian right-wing immoral minority.

The US failure to get its way on this matter is significant. This is the first time Bush has not been able to dictate to an international agreement. So African children still stand a chance of learning that condoms are not satanic - at least for the time being.

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