Gas prices are driving your poll numbers into the toilet. Harriet Miers’ Supreme Court nomination is getting more laughs than Chris Rock Live at the Apollo. Vice President Cheney has been targeted by the press as the new “Tricky Dick,” one step away from indictment.

[image-1]

Congratulations, Mr. President: you’re going to Disneyworld!

Well, not quite. But this cresting wave of bad news could, in fact, be the best thing that has happened to your presidency since John Kerry announced he was “reporting for duty.”

Use whatever cliché you like about silver linings, second chances, new beginnings, etc. This is your chance to kick off the era of Bush II: The Supercool Sequel. You see, I happen to believe that the real reason your current term is adrift, Mr. President, is that your presidency has become, well, boring.

Think about it: Four years ago this week, you were kicking ass in Afghanistan. You were rattling sabers towards Riyadh. And you had Saddam Hussein curled under a desk in the fetal position in a different presidential palace each night.

Back home, you were fighting for tax cuts and sending out rebate checks to stressed, middle-class taxpayers. You reduced your opponents to demanding that rebates be paid to people who never paid any federal income tax in the first place. Your friends looked smart, your foes looked foolish. Ah, those were the days.

Today, the headline in the New York Daily News reads “Darkest Days. But you know what they say: It’s always darkest before the dawn.

You have been presented a tremendous opportunity to bring back the old magic, and to get people excited again — friends and enemies alike — about your presidency. Right now you’re trapped in the cycle of “Bush defends whosit from whatsit over charges of whatever, blah, blah, blah.” Yawn.

Back in the Watergate day, that might have been big excitement. But, as in so many areas, your predecessor has raised (or lowered, if you prefer) the bar on official, White House naughtiness.

The bottom line, Mr. President: If you want to get America excited about scandal again, somebody, somewhere has to unzip their pants. Until then, zzzzzzzzzzz.

But thanks to this perfect storm of pseudo bad news, you can have all the benefits of a scandal-riddled presidency without the significant downsides, such as jail time, court appearances, or (horrors!) being defended by Lanny Davis.

Unfortunately, Mr. President, it’s going to involve you doing the one thing you hate more than anything else. No, not pick Jenna up from the Austin County lock-up again…

Mr. President, it’s time to start firing people. I know, I know, you hate that. You think it shows weakness, that it’s disloyal, that you’re being less than a true friend. I understand and respect that.

So don’t think of it as firing friends. Think of it as creating new cronies who you can irrationally defend when they screw up in the future!

First firing, obviously, is Harriet Miers. Drop that loser like third-period French and go get yourself a real, live, right-in-the-radar, red meat conservative. Personally, I recommend Ann Coulter, but that may just be my “Lil’ Judge” talking.

Whoever it is, if your nominee is so clearly qualified that she can only be opposed for being too conservative, your base will be instantly revived. Right-wingers will rally to you in a way they haven’t since the Iraq War began, and the devastating logic, passion, and anger they’ve directed at you over Miers will immediately be turned upon Ted Kennedy and his friends in the Senate.

It will be a glorious battle to behold.

Second firing — and you’re really going to hate this one — has got to be Dick Cheney. Look, here’s the deal. Cheney has always been a lousy political ally. He’s a solid vice president from a “getting the job done” standpoint, but he gets you zero new votes. You’ve had the “old, rich, balding, chubby white guy” vote locked up since 1999, Mr. President. Time to move on.

The day you announce the “retirement for health reasons” of Dick Cheney and your nomination of Condi Rice as vice president, the new Bush era will begin. Political coalitions will begin realigning. The math for the 2006 mid-term elections will be re-calculated. And the typical American, bored beyond belief by insider stories of Scooter, Karl, and Harriett will tune you back in for another season.

Mr. President, you could be bigger than “Desperate Housewives.” Just imagine it.

There is one other secret weapon you could use to turn your second term from “rotten” to Reaganesque:” Good news. While the press gives is short shrift, in Iraq the constitution passed with 79 percent support in a high turnout election. Here at home, gas prices are falling and unemployment remains low even after Katrina, Wilma, and Co.

Chances are, we’re going to spend the next three years watching violence in Iraq decline, jobs and wages in America grow, and terrorists working harder and harder to accomplish less and less.

This could be the beginning of your best days, Mr. President. Just remember: Carpe Diem.

That’s Latin for “Fire Cheney.”