Excuses, Excuses

ADD "OPTIMIST" TO the list of adjectives used to describe former insurance salesman, best-selling novelist, and new-if-contested owner of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Clancy. In his 1991 novel The Sum of All Fears, the Vikings face the San Diego Chargers in the Super Bowl. The Vikes appear headed for their first-ever Bowl win when suddenly...

"The picture went blank just as San Diego was coming up for a third-and-five at the 47. [United States President Bob] Fowler finished off his fourth beer of the afternoon and set the glass down in annoyance. Damned TV people. Someone probably tripped over a plug, and he'd miss a play or two in what looked like one hell of a game. He ought to have gone to this one despite the advice of the Secret Service.

"Like any male TV viewer, Fowler picked up the TV controller and changed channels. CNN was off the air too... He'd just started wondering what that meant when a phone started ringing. 'This is the president,' Fowler said in a gruff, suddenly frightened voice. 'Mr. President, this is Major General Joe Borstein. I am the senior NORAD watch officer. Sir, we have just registered a nuclear detonation in the Central United States.'"

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