Hundreds of members of George Bush's incoming staff have stumbled upon the Democrats' real legacy this week.
When many of Bill Clinton's team left their offices at the weekend they took the W keys from their computer keyboards.
When their Republican replacements arrived, they discovered that they had been made the victims of an extensive practical joke. In office after office, keyboards are missing their Ws, and many of the lost keys are turning up in strange places.
"There are dozens, if not hundreds of keyboards with these missing keys," a White House spokesman told the Washington Post Tuesday.
"In some cases the W has simply been marked out, but the most prevalent example is the key being removed."
The missing Ws are being discovered in all sorts of odd places, such as taped to the top of door frames.
Others have turned up in hard-to-get-at nooks and crannies.
Bush, whose middle name is Walker, made a big deal out of his middle initial during campaign rallies, often holding up the middle three fingers of his hand to form a W.
He is often popularly referred to as "Dubya."
The W keys have been pocketed from offices throughout the White House and in the neighboring old executive office building where most of the presidential and vice-presidential staff work.
"It has the technical and computer support people very busy," said the unidentified spokesman. "They already have quite a lot to do. I don't believe they expected to be coping with this as well."
Few members of the ancien regime were able to cast any light on the lost Ws yesterday.
Clinton's former adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, always a prime suspect among Republicans where the political black arts are involved, professed innocence. "I only read about it in the paper," he claimed.
Al Gore's press spokesman, Chris Lehane, said: "The White House did not have many reasons to use the letter W over the last couple of years; it's possible they just fell off because of sheer atrophy."
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