Petraeus on Britney
A no-nonsense assessment of the benchmarks achieved by the rehabilitating pop star.
September 14, 2007
by Joel Stein

Thank you Jive Records, MTV, Clear Channel and members of Congress for the opportunity to present my assessment of Britney Spears' career. Which, according to nearly every objective metric, is going completely, totally awesome.

Sure, progress made over the last few months has been uneven -- the number of Star magazine "not normal" incidents is still disturbingly high -- but we are hitting most of our major benchmarks. To wit, not only has there not been one single divorce this year, there also haven't been any marriages, significantly curtailing the assessed threat of divorce.

In recent months, despite brutal summer heat, we have achieved progress in the underwear-wearing arena. Shoe wearing in public bathrooms is up 38%, while T-shirt messages with the phrase "baby daddy" are down 46%. Hair regrowth objectives are being met, and recent advances in wig and hair extension technology have proved surprisingly effective. Conducting sensitive negotiations directly in the field, we have been increasingly able to get Ms. Spears to wear just the blond wig instead of switching between the black and blond ones, which has provided a force-multiplier effect on public credibility.

While Ms. Spears' weight is not yet at pre-Federline levels, we think we will be able to achieve minimum BMI by next spring. We have gained the initiative on Ms. Spears' McDonald's consumption by wresting fast-food eating sanctuaries -- most notably the automatic windows lock on her SUV -- from her control. I'd also like to direct you to this chart, showing the 99 billion served meals not consumed by Ms. Spears.

As shown by this other chart, public approval of Ms. Spears is up roughly 1 trillion percent over this time last year, though to properly explain the methodology would require one of those nerdy laser-pointer thingies Al Gore uses, so you'll just have to trust me.

The recent performance at the MTV Video Music Awards vastly exceeded initial projections of awesomeness. Not only did the few dancing moves she executed get her heart rate up to 145 -- prime fat-burning range -- but Ms. Spears did not fall or cry. Though the time lapse between recorded music and lip sync was off by an average of 2.5 seconds, this was a vast improvement over the House of Blues tour, where the average was actually forever, because she didn't know the words to her new song. Though she still hasn't memorized the lyrics -- which, for the record, are "gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme" -- she now mouths other words in its place, some of which clearly do involve giving her things.

Tabloid magazine covers are down 22% in six of the last eight weeks, the lowest level since the New Year's Eve party collapse, thanks largely to our Brangelina rumors propaganda. Other successes include disruption of sex-tape distribution, containment of make-out sessions with female friends to above-the-neck contact, and the quick resolution of the incident in which Ms. Spears attacked a photographer's SUV with an umbrella, thanks to our well-executed giant fan maneuver creating a "Mary Poppins effect" that the mainstream media has under-covered. To put this all in perspective, if Ms. Spears were a movie, and that movie was "The Bourne Ultimatum," then Ms. Spears would have grossed $210 million.

Improvement of Ms. Spears' parenting skills has been substantial, as evidenced by the fact that 100% of her children are alive. Neither has been dangled over a railing or placed near a crocodile. One has already been weaned off soda and is now eating solid candy bars. Secondhand smoke is 88% tar-reduced, exactly on target.

We have launched a series of offensive operations, many involving Paris Hilton, aimed at neutralizing senior-level suitors, including Stavros Niarchos, Travis Barker, Brandon Davis, Wilmer Valderrama, Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband, three backup dancers and, in a particularly dangerous maneuver in Las Vegas in which Ms. Spears sustained limited tongue damage, a naked Italian man who turned out to be an ice sculpture.

In describing the recommendations I have made, I should note again that I believe Ms. Spears' problems will require a long-term effort, like 40 to 45 years. I suggest we continue doing the same exact thing we have been doing thus far: skimpy outfits, gyrations, mindless techno music with lyrics implying extreme horniness. By the time Ms. Spears is 65 or 70, this strategy should work perfectly.

The important thing to remember is that to secure our national interests, we need Britney Spears. If Al Qaeda knew it had the power to destroy our former teen pop stars, it would feel empowered to mess with Zac Efron's Facebook profile, or expose the real identity of Hannah Montana.

Democracy depends on our resolve.