National: TALES FROM THE GHASTLY PIT OF D.C.!
(Theme song. Cut to: the Old Pit-Keeper, our horrible host.)
Pit-Keeper: Well, hello again, kiddies! Here’s a story to make the hairs on the back of your neck crawl! A jolting tale of terror I call:
A HEARTBEAT AWAY!
Pit-Keeper: Our story concerns an ambitious but untalented man named George! George was spoiled, not too bright, and he’d never succeeded at anything in his life except getting elected to office! But that didn’t stop George from aiming higher…
George: Dick, you’ve been a friend of the family for years—but now you’re telling me that if I make you my running mate, I’ll not only win the Presidency, but enjoy the highest approval ratings ever?
Dick: That’s right, George. I—I—ugh! Ugh!
George: Dick, what is it? Are you alright?
Dick: It’s nothing, George, just my heart. Ticker acting up again. Anyway, with your telegenic face and my knowledge of…certain arcane political arts—we can’t miss!
Pit-Keeper: The sinister Mr. Cheney finally managed to win over his young friend. And by George, they did win the White House (technically)! But it wasn’t too long before our friend George began to have his suspicions about the mysterious Mr. Cheney’s methods…
George: Gee, Dick, I don’t know. A war against Iraq? Don’t they have to attack us, before we attack them?
Dick: Bah! Everyone hates Saddam Hussein! And if we conquer Iraq, we’ll be the ones setting the price of oil! Think of it, George! Together, you and I will control the world’s oil supply!
George: Yeah, but between the corporate accounting scandals and our neglect of Israel and the lousy economy and all, I don’t think you’ll be able to sell the public on conquering Iraq and giving lucrative oil contracts to your buddies at the Halliburton company! My approval ratings would take a nose-dive…
Dick: (leaving office, thinks to himself) Spineless young idiot! All he ever thinks about is his confounded approval ratings! There must be some way… (Evil smile, light bulb over Dick’s head. Then cut to:)
George: Who is this guy Ashcroft, anyway, Dick? And why should I make him Attorney General?
Dick: Trust me, George, he’s the man for the job! He’s got the right priorities—he’ll crack down on illegal drugs and internet pornography, and won’t waste time and money keeping tabs on terrorists operating within the U.S. borders.
George: Is that good?
Dick: You bet it is! (to himself) …for me and my plans, heh-heh…
(Cut to: September 11th, 2001. Jets crash into the World Trade Center. Cut to: George on telephone, looking out window of Air Force One.)
George: This is awful, Dick! What should I do? When can I come down?
Dick: (on phone at secret base) Not until I tell you to come down! Don’t worry, I’ve got everything under control down here. And by the way, have you seen your latest approval ratings?
(Cut to: the Oval Office; George and Dick gloating over headlines.)
George: My approval ratings are sky high! You were right, Dick! The country is solidly behind me in the wake of this tragedy!
Dick: I told you so, George, my boy!
George: All in all, it’s been a fabulous year for Laura and me! (The previous line is an actual Bush quote, dated Dec. 20, 2001)
Dick: Now’s the perfect time to sell the rubes on a war against Iraq!
George: Gee, I don’t know… We were attacked by al-Qaeda and the Taliban, not Saddam Hussein…
Dick: Bah! Most of the fools who voted for us can’t tell one Muslim from another! I say let’s go for it!
George: Well…okay, Dick… if you say so…
Pit-Keeper: So Dick got his splendid little war, after all! But no sooner had it ended than…
(Cut to: George rushing into Cheney’s secret headquarters, clutching newspapers.)
George: Dick! Dick! My approval ratings are plummeting! This occupation of Iraq thing--there are more American soldiers being killed now than before I declared victory! What are we—Good Lord! (choke) What are you doing?
(Cut to: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Karl Rove dancing naked around a pot of boiling oil, chanting ‘EMPIRE! EMPIRE!’, as Dick, in wizard outfit, feeds wax voodoo figures of American servicemen into the pot.)
Cheney: HA HA HA! Thousands of American soldiers’ lives, in the palm of my hand! And each one I feed into the kettle keeps my own heart beating one more day! I’ll live FOREVER!
George: No! No! My approval ratings! My re-election! AIEEEE!
(Cut back to: Pit-keeper, chuckling)
Pit-keeper: Well, kiddies, how about that? Looks like poor little George fell for some of that Old Black Magic that Dick weaves so well! Heh-heh! Come back soon, for another petrifying potboiler from…the Ghastly Pit of D.C.!
William Prendergast, author of the crime thriller ‘Forbidden Hollywood’, just loves a good horror story.