Gerhard Schroeder got a surprise birthday gift on Wednesday from top-selling daily Bild, which printed a bogus page saying he had been made chancellor for life and that President Bush had apologized for ever arguing with him.
The decidedly tongue-in-cheek tribute from Bild, locked in a dispute with Schroeder over his refusal to give it interviews, came at a time of little cheer for the man. Voters are unhappy with economic reforms and poll ratings are at record lows.
Bild turned its entire back page into a front page filled with made-up news that would please the German leader, who turned 60 on Wednesday.
It included a story that opposition conservative leader Angela Merkel had dissolved her party declaring: “Schroeder is simply better at this.”
Bush says he's sorry?
Bush, whom Schroeder angered by opposing the Iraq war, is quoted as saying: “Sorry, sorry, sorry. I should have listened to Gerd much more often.”
Schroeder refuses to give interviews to the highly influential newspaper because, he says, it is conducting a campaign against him and his policies.
Whether the front page will suffice to bury the hatchet remains to be seen. A government spokesman declined immediate comment.
The page also included an item that one of Schroeder’s favorite dishes, Berlin “Curry Sausage,” had been found to contain a new vitamin that prevents premature hair graying -- a sensitive topic for Schroeder, who took a news agency to court for claiming wrongly that he dyed his hair.