What remarkable timing. Just as the US elections look too close to call, public enemy number 1 makes a brief cameo after 2 years of silence. What are the chances, eh?

In these crazy times, one might be forgiven for wondering if (a) Bush’s team have contrived to save the tape until the moment when it might make most emotional impact on the electorate, by dredging up the horror of the 3,000 New York dead while simultaneously fading the 100,000 Iraqi dead (plus however many in Afghanistan) into the background; or (b) Osama wants Bush to win because he’s great for Muslim fundamentalist business. It stands to reason that a less rabid president might prove just that little bit too un-hate-able to die for.

Washington asked Al-Jazeera not to broadcast the Bin Laden tape, unsuccessfully. But if the Americans believe they’re on the side of righteousness – which naturally they do – then why censor the speech at all? The transcript’s here, if you fancy a gander: (English version).

Only time will tell how this eleventh hour plot twist will affect the election. (Time and lots of lawyers, to be more precise.) Meanwhile, it’s hard not to imagine more last minute shockers might be pulled out of the bag before Tuesday, particularly if it looks like Bush isn’t in a clear leading position. Some online political debates have centred around whether the beheading of Margaret Hassan (or the revelation of this having already happened) is one possible cliffhanger. This is intolerable even to imagine, but it speaks volumes that there are enough people who feel the world’s governments are capable of sinking to such depths to discuss it openly on public messageboards. Public consciousness has only recently opened to allow this kind of thought, beyond the most vehemently ‘alternative’ thinkers. It’s good that people feel up to questioning authority. But having to contemplate the corruption of power at such length must take its toll on human hope, at its most basic level.

The world is a horror movie right now, and nobody knows how far the madness will extend. All we can do is hope for a swift, conclusive end to the reign of the Bush dynasty, an end to the imperialistic madness of Tony Blair, and a positive new start for us all.

And whatever happens with the US elections, Blair’s pals have just leaked the idea of a quick February election over here. So there might just be time to persuade the Chancellor to oust the PM and salvage what he can of Labour’s democratic credentials.