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A Filipino Department of Foreign Affairs transcript of a call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was leaked this week. It appears to show Mr. Trump cold-calling the Philippine leader late in the evening to interrupt his dinner and congratulate him, specifically, on having presided over the slaughter of many of his citizens.

This is not the subtext. It is the actual text. Clearly, the United States is in uncharted diplomatic waters.

"Okay I hope it's not too late? It's okay isn't it? Is it too late?" Mr. Trump says, to Mr. Duterte's "President Trump, thank you for calling, and good evening, it's night over here …"

One can almost see Mr. Duterte rolling his eyes and pointing at the phone as he says, "No, it's okay, we are just having dinner with some of the members of ASEAN."

One can imagine his internal dialogue: "Come on, Donny, spit it out, it's one thing to cheer on mass extrajudicial killings carried out by one's police force, but getting the microwave to reheat food evenly and without drying it out? I'm a murderous tyrant, not a miracle worker!"

Mr. Trump then attempts to bond with the man whose well-documented deadly war against his own people, framed as a war on drugs, has taken the lives of close to 9,000 possible drug dealers, possible innocent bystanders but, namely, poor people, since he took office in June.

Mr. Trump seemed hopeful that he'd soon be the best of friends with this gent, because neither of them "sleep at night."

I wonder why.

"Oh. Okay, good, because you don't sleep much, you're just like me. You are not a person who goes to bed at all. I know that, right?" the almost bashful-seeming Commander-in-Chief says.

"I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that."

Reading their conversation, you wouldn't think that the United States provides massive amounts of aid to the Philippines, and has some leverage, human-rights-wise. One could easily conclude from the most powerful man on Earth's tone that the Philippines has a great pool that Mr. Trump really wants to use this summer.

The kindest reading of this is that it's a ruse and that Mr. Trump, who assured a crowd in Columbus, Ohio, back in August "We're going to take all of these kids – and people, not just kids – that are totally addicted and they can't break it. We're going to work with them, we're going to spend the money, we're gonna get that habit broken," was merely cheering on the gunning-down of possible addicts in the street as an excuse to call Mr. Duterte. Maybe he was giving the man an opening, should he wish to invite Mr. Trump to go to his upcoming "I just declared martial law" party, or something.

The darker alternative – as Mr. Duterte's modus operandi is allegedly to demand drug addicts register for treatment, then sit back while cops collect these dutiful souls at their doors, or in their neighbourhoods, and shoot them, along with some of those near them – is that Mr. Trump, who does have a weakness for a strongman, is actually impressed.

I want to take the President Needy option, but, citizens of Columbus, if a brochure offering assistance for your opiate addiction comes in the mail, for the love of God, and the safety of bystanders, read it carefully.

Kim Jong-un, Mr. Trump glibly told his new confidant, is a "madman with nuclear weapons," but "all his rockets are crashing." Mr. Trump, who is currently judged to be making a quasi-success of a foreign trip for which the bar has been set so low it is technically a pipe, seems to like to bond with foreign leaders by gossiping about other foreign leaders and sharing state secrets as if that intelligence were a dirty magazine he'd brought to a Grade 6 sleepover.

It's all very "Oh my God! You can see his thing! Also, you will not believe what Israeli intelligence told me!"

I was reminded of Mr. Trump's 3 a.m. phone call to another man, his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. It was reported back in February that, according to sources familiar with the conversation, a wide-awake Donald telephoned sleepy-or-possibly-sleeper Flynn to ask him if the United States would benefit more from a weaker dollar or a stronger one.

The question might well have thrown Mr. Flynn even if he were not allegedly a man of divided and undisclosed loyalties. At any rate, he apparently suggested Mr. Trump consult an economist, rather than a retired general.

Luckily for Mr. Duterte, according to the transcript, Mr. Trump largely stuck to topics the president of the Philippines might reasonably be expected to have some knowledge of, even if he quite reasonably never suspected he'd be called upon – during dinner – to educate the president of the United States on those subjects.

"What is your opinion of him, Rodrigo? Are we dealing with someone who [is] stable or not stable?" the President of the United States asked a man who once boasted "Hitler massacred three million Jews … there's three million drug addicts. There are. I'd be happy to slaughter them" and, according to legends popular with his supporters forced a tourist to swallow a cigarette butt. A lot of Holocaust deniers play down the number of people Hitler killed. It's rare to see someone do it in order to make it easier to beat his record.

"What do you hunk [sic] about China? Does China have power over him?" Mr. Trump further inquired, rather suggesting he was genuinely second-guessing his own intelligence apparatus, or just pretending to, because he wanted to hear the sound of Mr. Duterte's voice that badly.

"Yes, at the end of the day, the last card, the ace has to be with China … China will play a very important role here," Mr. Duterte patiently explained. He might not be able to resist the urge to brag about riding around on a motorcycle looking for an excuse to kill people, but you do have to give Mr. Duterte credit for resisting the urge to shout "Yes! China is a big deal! What tacky, gilded rock did you just crawl out from under?"

I don't like to empathize with a man who once said, "Human-rights [defenders] say that I kill. I said: 'Okay, let us stop and let [criminals] multiply. So when harvest time comes, there will be more who will die.' I will include you in that because you let them multiply," because that is monstrous, but we all know the feeling. Sometimes you get a weird, overly emotional phone call from someone you don't know all that well and what do you do? You don't want to be rude because, well, he just finished talking about how he has "a lot of firepower over there" including "two nuclear submarines – the best in the world" in Korean water, but you don't want to be too friendly, because there's a serious risk he'll call again.

The exchange between these two was a rough start, but I like to believe that this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between two night owls brought together by their shared love of extrajudicial killings. I can picture the two of them, just lying in their beds, old twisty-corded phones pressed up against their ears.

"Hey, Rodrigo, did you threaten any local government officials with assassination today?"

Eventually, they will order matching pyjamas.

"No, Mr. Trump, I felt like today was for self-care and forcing some Swedish backpacker in a bar to eat his own shoe. It was a very filthy shoe!"

"You are hilarious! You make the best jokes. No one has ever seen a joke like that."

"No, seriously, I made him eat his footwear and then I had someone shoot the bartender."

Mr. Duterte may be a touch emotionally guarded for a while. It was only weeks ago that Mr. Trump was congratulating Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the results of the Turkish referendum that tightened his already autocratic control. The Philippine leader might be worried that he's just Trump's rebound tyrant. Occasionally, Mr. President will even let it slip that he's still checking Putin's Instagram in the middle of updating Rodrigo on U.S. Carrier Strike Group deployments. But, no matter how the relationship began, who else will ever appreciate Mr. Duterte's passion for creating a violent police state that would make Judge Dredd say "Whoa, that's a bit harsh, citizen" the way the duly elected President of the United States does?

I know how this will end, they'll talk later and later into the night, until one of them remembers they have to give a major speech to NATO members or put another city under martial law, and they haven't even started it yet, and then:

"You hang up, Mr. President."

"No. You hang up, Rodrigo."

"No, you."

"Wait, actually before I go, have you seen my electoral college ma-"