George W. Bush to Replace Will Shortz as NYT Crossword Puzzle Editor

New York and Washington, D.C., January 3, 2009 -- In a development that has surprised political pundits and puzzle enthusiasts alike, The New York Times announced today that President George W. Bush will be replacing retiring puzzle-master Will Shortz as the crossword puzzle editor for The New York Times.

Will Shortz, who has edited the famous New York Times crossword puzzle page since 1993, announced several months ago that he is "bored unto death with squares and letters. Across, down, X, Y, Z… who the hell cares?"

Upon his retirement, Mr. Shortz said he plans to fulfil a lifelong ambition to pursue a second career in marine biology with a special focus on the elusive Bent-billed sea snail.

"I've always been fascinated by the species, but never had the time to properly explore it," Mr. Shortz said. "Now's my chance to actually 'take the plunge', if you will."

President Bush, unbeknownst to most beltway observers, has long been an avid crossword puzzle enthusiast. A White House aide who asked not to be identified said Mr. Bush "never takes a powder-room break without his copy of the Dell E-Z Puzzles for Juniors book, which he's been working through for the past eight years, and a number two pencil with a big, fat eraser on the tip."

Milt Rafferty, associate arts and entertainment editor for The New York Times, said the news organization had begun considering an attempt to enlist Mr. Bush's services following the enormously popular public reaction to an earlier crossword puzzle edited by fellow enthusiast President Bill Clinton.

"Bill Clinton's puzzle was a real treat, and we'd have done just about anything to get him to take over after Will," Mr. Rafferty said, "but unfortunately he's just so darn busy with international diplomacy, health care issues, poverty amelioration, and all that stuff. He said he simply didn't have the time. That's when we thought of George W. He has nothing particular to do and, to put it frankly, jumped at the offer like a drowning man at an inflatable dinghy."

President Bush's skills as a wordsmith will be first put to the test in March, with a special premier puzzle both constructed and edited by the wily linguist. The puzzle features many geographical, historical and classical cultural references, reflecting the scope and depth of the former president's well-known intellectual curiosity.

Avant News has obtained an exclusive preview copy of George W. Bush's first "Presidential Puzzle". An interactive version is playable below:

My Presidential Crossword
by George W. Bush

You need Java enabled to view the crossword applet.

Give up? Ha ha! I thought it would stump ya! OK, here's the answers.

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

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