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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: The Hotline Call You'll Never Hear

British Prime Minister Tony Blair: Hello, Volodya?

President Vladimir Putin: Tony! How nice to hear from you! (Warily:) I hope you are not calling about Chechnya.

Blair: Oh, heavens no! I totally respect your handling of the matter, you were absolutely within your rights in everything you did! I very much feel that we can do business, particularly after Robin Cook explained to me about this Andrei Babitsky, who it turns out was all along simply visiting with the mountain civilians. No, I'm calling because ... I need your advice, Volodya, and your help as well.

Putin: You must take the BBC in hand immediately.

Blair: No, not about that. Listen, my wife is having a baby.

Putin: This is wonderful! Tony, I congratulate you! May I be the first to wish you happiness! Health! All things wonderful!

Blair: Thank you. But there is a problem. My wife is a labor lawyer.

Putin: I see!

Blair: Yes, well. She is a labor lawyer, and a champion of paternity leave. And she has called on me to take a paternity leave when the baby arrives. And of course I would like to ... but I have got to make sure the country is properly run, too, so, anyway ...

Putin: I will send you Mikhail Kasyanov. He will run Britain while you are away. He can sort out this BBC situation. You know, Russians can hear the BBC too! This is a concern for us all. Controversial decisions must be taken here.

Blair: Uh, I had something else in mind. I saw you in that sweater, and I thought, "Volodya is looking for a sort of a third-way image, something a bit softer." So what better than for you to go on a paternity leave?

Putin: But we're not having a baby! (Then worriedly:) Tony, do you have some intelligence I don't?

Blair: I was thinking this would be more a symbolic sort of paternity leave - in support of my paternity leave, as it were. You could send a message to men everywhere - even the toughest world leaders have a soft spot for their families.

As for me, it would be wonderful to be associated with some of your machismo; my handlers tell me I look something of, well, an ineffectual blowhard ...

Putin: (Pondering) Can you guarantee me favorable British media? Will me going on paternity leave bump any bad story out of Russia? No Chechnya? No KGB-rises,-free-speech-in-danger nonsense?

Blair: Absolutely! Done!

Putin: I will consider it. Now, about this BBC ...

- Matt Bivens