It didn’t take long after today’s news for ‘Jack Bauer’ to start trending on Twitter. Which gave me the pretext to follow up my first episode about America’s finest special agent grammarian…
[Counter-Typo Unit, Los Angeles. Chloe O’Brian is reporting to CTU Director Bill Buchanan]
Chloe: Bill, it’s a coded message from Jack out in the field – he’s finally got Usama bin Laden!
Bill: What? Usama? But we sent him out after Osama!
Chloe: Come on, Bill, you know that while most of the media prefer to call him Osama, most government agencies transliterate the Arabic as Usama.
Bill: No, Chloe, it’s not that simple! We’ve had a double agent out there in Pakistan for some time now, under cover as ‘Usama bin Laden’. If Jack’s killed him instead…
Chloe: Look, it’s OK, Bill, the report Jack’s sent is clear. The man he killed is head of al Qaida.
Bill: Are you serious? Al Qaida? Bin Laden is head of al Qaeda, with an E. Al Qaida with an I is a small family firm that sells cuddly toys and oil over the internet.
[Tony Almeida, walking past, overhears and butts in]
Tony: Wait, is this for real?
Bill: Absolutely, al Qaeda.
Tony: Oh my god. You’ve not seen the latest intelligence. Al Qaeda is just a pensioners’ community football club in northern Pakistan. The terror network is al-Qaeda, with a hyphen!
Bill: A hyphen? This is worse than we thought. How the hell did this happen?
Chloe: I’m sorry, Bill, I guess I just didn’t think the hyphen was important.
Bill: Not important? Dammit, Chloe, things like this are exactly the reason we have a house style! That’s why we all go through the intensive Top Secret Spy Punctuation training! Look, I’m relieving you of duty. Bernard, get over here.
[Bernard Poddington comes over]
Bernard: Yes, sir?
Tony: I don’t think I know you, Bernard. Are you new here?
Bernard: That’s right, Mr Almeida. I’m a minor character and am probably going to get myself killed pointlessly before very long.
Tony: Well OK. But we’ve got a problem here. We need you to take over from Chloe, who can’t tell the difference between al Qaeda and al-Qaeda.
Bernard: Well, it’s just that we’re supposed to be tracking al-Qa’eda. With an apostrophe.
Tony: You’re kidding me.
Bernard: No, al-Qa’eda are the terrorists. Al-Qaeda is a hospital for orphans with serious but not disfiguring diseases. Those kids are adorable, you should see the pictures. Are you saying that’s what we’ve attacked?
Bill: I’m not listening to this any more. Chloe, get Jack on satellite phone. Now!
[Chloe gets Jack Bauer on satellite phone. Now]
Jack: What is it, Bill?
Bill: Jack, we’ve got some confusing intel on the exact identity of who you were supposed to be going after. First, can you confirm the name of the target?
Jack: It was Usama bin Laden for sure. I’ve just had confirmation on that from the FOX News camera crew that’s embedded with me.
Bill: Usama, with a U? Jack, listen to me. The guy we’re meant to target is Osama.
Jack: That’s a negative, Bill. Public enemy number one is Usama. Not, repeat, not, with an O. I ran the spellcheck over that sonofabitch a dozen times.
Bill: But how can you be sure?
Jack: Just turn on your TV.
[Bernard turns on the wall-mounted TV screen]
Crowds on TV: U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Jack: You hear that? They know how it’s spelt. They know we got him.
Bill: Well I’ll be damned. Jack, you’ve done it again! Bernard, can you turn the sound up a bit?
Bernard: Sure thing, Mr Buchanan, but after I’ve done that there’s something incredibly important I need to tell you.
[Bernard reaches up to adjust the volume. The screen falls off the wall and crushes him. Closing credits]