Bush sets America on a bold new mission
Is everyone buying into George W Bush's intrepid vision of a manned mission to Mars? Some of the world's newspapers this week were clearly behaving like spoilsports.
"The US is preparing for the invasion of Mars and other planets," wrote the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah.
"What are the other planets chosen for the US invasion? Are they an axis of planetary evil? And what is the relationship between the regime on Pluto and fundamentalist groups?"
Australians fond of sarcasm read how Mr Bush was certainly on to a winner.
"The US President may figure that a pre-emptive strike against the Martians should occur while we have the size advantage," wrote columnist Tim Ferguson in Melbourne's The Age.
"Maybe he figures the Mission To Mars money is well spent; he was never much good at book-learnin' and we've seen his disregard for hospitals during the recent Iraq war," he said.
"George's reasons don't matter. Americans should go to Mars and Australians should go with them. Single-minded persistence in the face of futility is what humanity does best."
In France, Le Monde cast a weary transatlantic eye over past joint projects such as the International Space Station and concluded Mr Bush's plan marked "a break with the period of international cooperation which has prevailed for the past 30 years".
"The ascendancy of Airbus over Boeing illustrates the kind of battles that are being fought in the corridors of space exploration," it said.
And France's Liberation daily wrote when Mr Bush points at the Moon, he is "clearly thinking above all about the astronaut China intends to send there". It admitted however that the plan was an electoral masterstroke.
But few of the world's papers were as cynical this week as Switzerland's Le Temps, which accused Mr Bush of "using space as a diversion at a time when his Iraq policy is not exactly a shining success".
Or Austria's Der Standard: "A national mission to a far-away place where glory awaits and no rebel movement lurks will help Americans forget about the continuing problems in Iraq and portray the president as a peaceful visionary."
BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.