Saturday, October 05, 2002

Flight 9/11, Where Are You?



Flash: Armed with little more than a Scalia Constitutioncutter, a cell of Oilocratic Terrorists have seized control of Liberty Flight 911, departing out of the ruins of the World Trade Center, with what’s rest of the country onboard. An official at the FAA is asked how the terrorists could have gotten their Constitutioncutter through the airport metal detector. He replies, “That flight originated in Texas, where anything goes and all parts of the Constitution, with the exception of the Second Amendment, are asswipe. The citizens of Texas consider it their sacred right to carry concealed handguns and other weapons of mass Constitutional destruction onboard commercial flights.”

Word just in: The terrorists, communicating by radio with air controllers at LaGuardia, have announced their new flight plan: Muhammed Ashcroft, one of the new pilots, has taken a direct heading for the Statue of Liberty, and should be colliding with her momentarily.

But what about the 300 million American passengers onboard? Why don’t they rise up and take BACK control of Liberty Flight 911 from the hijackers?

This just in: Someone in the back of the plane, hiding in the men’s room, is talking to Tom Brokaw by cellphone! Let’s tune in: “Hello Tom, it’s Al Gore.” “Who?” “Don’t you remember me? I used to be Vice President.” “I can’t even remember who’s Vice President when he IS Vice President. Not even when he’s the de facto President. Do you honestly expect me to remember an EX-Vice President?”

“But I’m SUPPOSED to be piloting this plane!” shouts Al. “I was duly elected to pilot the plane until I was chadded and adjudicated into oblivion.” “Oh wait,” says Tom B, “are you the guy with the beard?” “I’ve shaved my beard.” “So what’s going on?” “Senator Robert Byrd and I are trying to rouse our fellow American passengers to rise up against the terrorists who have seized the cockpit and are about to take out the Statue of Liberty!” “Then why are you in the men’s room?” “I’m older now. My prostate called. Plus, I wanted to let you know how things are going.” “Is Robert Byrd in the aisles, rousing the populace?” “Not any more. He has a worse prostate than I do. He’s in the other lavatory, the one in the airborne Senate Cloakroom.” “Well who IS rousing the passengers?” “Not much of anybody right this second. Well, Barbara Streisand is over by the leftwing singing ‘People, People Who Love People…’” And Tom says, “Well, is THAT getting the populace aroused?” And Al replies, “Not like it used to, Tom, not like it used to.” “Al, before we go to commercial, tell the viewing audience one thing: Why haven’t you already crashed into Liberty? After all, it’s only a hop step and a jump from the WTC to the Statue of Liberty.” “This just in, Tom, this just in: The terrorists are going to let Liberty stand for a while. They’ve switched flight plans and are now on a direct heading for Baghdad!”

“Ye gads,” says Tom. “Baghdad?!” “Yes,” says Al, “Muhammed Donald ‘The Enforcer’ Rumsfeld, has announced that Saddam Hussein is an even greater threat to American security than is the Statue of Liberty, so we all going to take a kamikaze flight to Iraq.”

“Have the terrorists cleared that flight with the FAA and air traffic control?”

“They say they’re the terrorists and they don’t need no STEENKING clearances.”

“But if,” says Tom, “they collide with Baghdad, won’t they destroy themselves and all the passengers on Flight 911?”

“Tom,” says Al, “they’re wearing parachutes and distributing extra chutes to all passengers in the First Class section who have contributed one million dollars or more to the Republican National Committee. Something tells me they won’t be going down with the ship.”

“But Al,” says Tom, “if most of the rest of America is blown up on kamikaze Flight 911 to Baghdad, what will happen to my ratings?”

“The same thing that has been happening to major network news ratings for years, Tom. They’ll plummet. Just like Flight 911 is going to plummet.”

“What’ll I do?!” says Tom.

“Maybe you can get a talk show on one of the cable networks. Or write another book celebrating WWII veterans.”

“But who’ll be left to broadcast to?”

“The terrorists will be left. And a few very rich Republican contributors. You’ll have to master the art of niche broadcasting. On a given day, you may find yourself with only one or two viewers----say, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz.”

“But wouldn’t they rather watch Brit Hume or Bill O’Reilly than me?”

“Yes they would, Tom. You’ll have to position yourself even farther to the right than you already have in order to win the surviving viewers. The surviving, post apocalyptic television demographic promises to be very warlike, but very affluent and very VERY oily. If you aren’t ready for them, they won’t be ready for you. It’ll be survival of the fittest and the rightest, Tom. Darwinian. Newsreader eat newsreader, anchor sink anchor. Are you ready for that? Gotta go, Tom. I can see the outlines of Baghdad in the porthole. The terrorists and Republican contributors have already parachuted into Tel Aviv and put the plane on autopilot. Barbra with an S is singing ‘God Bless America.’ She’s almost as rousing as Kate Smith used to be. Hanging up now. I’ve gotta give a fond farewell hug to Tipper.”

“That was Al Gore, sounding less wooden and more impassioned, and about to go down in flames with Liberty Flight 911, somewhere over Baghdad. And this has been the NBC Evening News.” Tom looks up to the director’s booth and says, “You get the instant Neilsen ratings on that one?” “Zero, Tom.” “Zero?!” “The serious newsophiles were watching CNN. The rightwingers were watching Fox.” “But I had an exclusive hookup with Al Gore!” “Tom, who remembers Al Gore?” “Brit Hume over at Fox had a direct hookup with Dick Cheney and George W. Bush as they parachuted into Tel Aviv. CNN was already in Baghdad, and they’re broadcasting sensational live footage of Flight 911’s collision with Saddam Hussein’s palace right this moment!! So which channel would YOU rather be watching, Tom? Which channel would YOU be watching?”

“Well, at least we’re still alive,” says Tom. “Most of the viewing audience didn’t make it, am I right?” “You’re right, Tom. They almost all went down with Liberty Flight 911. The only ones who made it are the only ones who will matter, Nielsenwise and otherwise.” “And I’m repositioning,” says Tom. “I’m repositioning like mad.”