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Wednesday,  January 22 12:01 AM EDT

U.S.-Led Iraq War Slated
For Super Bowl Halftime Show

By Peter Detwick

San Diego, Calif. -- Hoping for a simultaneous marketing and military coup, the Bush administration today officially set a war date, announcing that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq will be part of the Super Bowl XXXVII halftime show.

ABC sitcom stars like John Ritter will promote the show with 5-second promo spots declaring "Halftime is attack time."

Pentagon and ABC Sports officials said the halftime festivities, slated for the intermission of the Jan. 26 game between the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be a boon for all involved, with the possible exception of Iraq.

"If you look at the facts, the Super Bowl is immensely popular, but the proposed war with Iraq is not," said show co-producer Carl Rockne. "At the same time, televised bombing is immensely popular, but halftime shows are not. Put them together, and you've got serious potential."

"Viewers might walk out on Shania Twain singing, but I can't imagine anyone getting up to go to the bathroom while F-16s are firing sidewinder missiles," added ABC Sports Vice President Mickey Holmes. "If we have some real pounding going on in the first half, and we segue right into our military pounding the enemy during halftime, I think people are going to hang out and hold it in."

Particularly important, said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, were demographic statistics showing that the event's television audience, expected to be 800 million worldwide, is also an ideal combat audience.

"When you're watching an NFL game and there's about to be a big hit, you don't have time to think, 'Is this right or wrong?' You just want to see the hit," said Rumsfeld. "These are the people we want watching our war."

Rumsfeld added that the "U.S.-Led Invasion of Iraq Super Bowl XXXVII Halftime Show" also satisfies two consistent Bush administration goals: appealing to American populism while simultaneously infuriating the international community.

To that end, nations across the Middle East immediately denounced the plan, demanding that America wait until U.N. weapons inspections were completed before taking action. In Iraq, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan called the proposed show "typical United States arrogance," adding, "This halftime lasts only, what, 30 minutes? The Americans cannot possibly believe they will defeat the entire invincible army of Iraq in 30 minutes."

Rumsfeld acknowledged time could be an issue, but said the U.S. was willing to stretch the invasion out to last the entire half hour.

In Europe, meanwhile, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder warned that America's "misguided strategy" only "reinforces the international stereotype of the beer-swilling, football-loving, war mongering American."

Mindful of that reaction, Miller Brewing Co. has already filmed a new version of its controversial Miller Lite "catfight" commercial. In the new 30-second spot, instead of a pair of beer-drinking men dreaming of scantily clad women fighting it out, American service personnel are seen chanting "Tastes great!" while Iraqi officers shout "Less filling!" Eventually, U.S. warplanes and armored vehicles are shown bombing and shelling Iraq. The camera then cuts to a bar where George W. Bush says to Rumsfeld, "Man, who wouldn't want to watch that?" The two then toast with bottles of Miller Lite as, nearby, their disgusted wives roll their eyes.

In a racier version of the commercial that will only run on cable, Joyce Rumsfeld turns to First Lady Laura Bush and says, "Let's make out."

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