PORTLAND, ORE. — I think it was a dream, but it's also possible I stepped into some kind of time vortex and was flung into the not-too-distant future.
Nothing seemed unusual at first. I was sitting in a small theater, five rows back from the stage. Suddenly there was pulsating noise, strobe lights began flashing, the curtain parted to reveal a quartet of foot-stomping musicians all clad in matching black denim jumpsuits, and as the front man stepped up to the microphone I realized it was none other than President George W. Bush.
"Hang onto your socks," said a voice, and I looked over to see the grinning presence of White House adviser Karl Rove in the seat beside me.
"This was inevitable," he went on. "Everyone knows rock and politics have been edging closer together over the past few years. This president is the logical choice to bring about the ultimate fusion of both worlds."
A wave of incredulity swept over the audience as it became clear we were witnessing a combination of music and campaign history. Mr. Bush quickly turned up the astonishment level by strapping on a white Fender Telecaster and ripping into a tear-down-the-walls version of The Doors' "Light My Fire."
"It's the kind of high-stakes risk I didn't think this administration was willing to take," said columnist Robert Novak, looking slightly dazed in the lobby during intermission. Similar thoughts were echoed by ABC's Cokie Roberts. "When I realized he was going to play lead guitar, I almost fell out of my chair," she quipped. "His phrasing and tonal control are nonexistent, but he compensated by just cranking up the volume and it worked pretty well."
In truth, the performance was a triumph of style over skill. Bush's fingering technique ranged from hunt-and-peck to search-and- destroy as he snapped out a series of mainstream favorites including The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" and Queen's anthem to personal success, "We Are the Champions." At times entire notes were simply bypassed as Bush thrashed and slashed his way through long sets that often verged on melodic anarchy.
The closing segment was intended to silence critics who say the president lacks inspiration and intellectual nuance. Some daring two-handed fret work resulted in a credible rendition of the late-'60s underground favorite, "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by Iggy and the Stooges, which he highlighted with a few ferocious moves on the wham bar.
Then, in a gesture of conciliation toward conservatives, George W. was joined onstage by the writhing, undulating figure of one-time Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan for a simmering duet of the Bachman Turner Overdrive classic, "You Ain't Seen Nuthin' Yet."
I asked Mr. Rove if he thought the opposition party would respond by organizing rival concert tours. "No chance," he snapped. "Howard Dean can trying howling a few bars from 'Werewolves of London' but that's not what America wants to hear. We've got the beat and it's time to start dancing.
"From now on everyone's going to know that GOP stands for Get Out and PARTY!"
I think it was probably a dream. I just wish my ears would stop ringing.