Dion In Interview With CTV Encounters Problems With Disambiguation.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081010.wliberals1010/BNStory/politics/home

Sitting for a taped interview with Steve Murphy, the anchor for CTV Halifax, Mr. Dion was asked: "If you were prime minister now, what would you have done about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper hasn't done?"

Mr. Dion replied: "If I had been prime minister 2½ years ago?"

Mr. Murphy replied: "If you were the prime minister right now."

...

Mr. Murphy repeated the question again. Mr. Dion asked: "If I was prime minister starting when? Today?"



D: Sure, Dion could have handled his response better.
But the question was ambiguous.
Verb tense for hypothetical situations is tricky!

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/conditional.htm

For present unreal events, we put the verb in the condition clause one step back — into the past:

If the Bulls won another championship, Roberto would drive into Chicago for the celebration. I wish I had tickets. If they were available anywhere, I would pay any price for them. If he were a good friend, he would buy them for me....

For past unreal events — things that didn't happen, but we can imagine — we put the verb in the condition clause a further step back — into the past perfect:

If the Pacers had won, Aunt Glad would have been rich. If she had bet that much money on the Bulls, she and Uncle Chester could have retired. I wish I had lived in Los Angeles when the Lakers had Magic Johnson. If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake.D: very confusing to an ESLer! (English as Second Language)

D: I assume Dion understood the rule that generally verb tenses must agree.
Typically, if one begins in past tense then one stays in past tense.
Easy, right? [=