Saturday, July 02, 2005

Searching for Karl



It’s another steaming July day on the banks of the Potomac. The sun hangs over the White House like a cracked Liberty Bell. I get past the guard at the gate with some cock ‘n bull story about being a shamus for the FBI. Actually, I’m not sure who I’m working for, not just yet.

Some pansy at the reception desk who looks just like the bastard son of Ralph Reed and Tucker Carlson----same razor-straight schoolboy part in the hair, same big bowtie, same sanctimonious smirk, same pole up the behind, says, “State your business.”

“I’m looking for somebody what betrayed the security of the nation,” I snaps back.

“Then turn around and head to Capitol Hill, where they still have some Democrats,” he squeaks.

I grab him by the collar and pull him up so close to me we coulda rubbed noses like the Eskimo do. “I think I might find the treasonous bastid right here,” I says, and rattle him like a mariachi gourd before dropping him back in his swivel chair. He moves to hit a button that’ll summon Secret Service thugs from all over the House but before he can push it I grab his index finger and bend it straight backwards over his hand. It cracks with a wet sound, like a green sappy twig snapped in Spring. The sap’s eyes well with tears. “You go for that button again and daddy’s gonna come back and snap your other nine digits. Capische?” He nods and big round pachyderm tears roll down his pink cheeks. I know he won’t be bothering me again.

“Now where’s Karl Rove’s office?” I snarl.

“Karl Rove!!” he blubbers. “You can’t see Karl Rove. Sometimes even the President can’t see Karl Rove.” I grab the index finger on his other hand and start to bend it back. Faster than Sandra Day O’Connor’s replacement will revoke Roe vs. Wade he says, “He’s in the Oval Office.”

“The Oval Office,” I says. “You mean he’s meeting with POTUS?”

“POTUS is out. POTUS is always out somewhere, exercising, or reading My Pet Goat to schoolkids, or landing on some aircraft carrier. The Oval Office is Karl Rove’s office now.”

“Well damn,” I say. “Buzz me in. ….With your good index finger.” And Tucker Reed or Ralph Carlson or whatever the twit’s Young Republican name is buzzes me in and damned if I don’t walk right into the great man’s Oval Office. He’s sitting in there all alone, playing solitaire on his PC, his bald head shining like one of the moons of Jupiter, his eyes mean and beady behind his wire rimmed glasses.

“Who let YOU in here?” he croaks.

“Who let YOU in here?” I croak back.

“I earned my way in here. Without my lies, none of us would be in the White House right now.”

“Well at least you told the truth about one thing….” I start to say.

“Whenever somebody accuses me of telling the truth, I go for my gu….” I see him ease open his desk drawer and go for his gat. Before he can grab it I move over his desk faster than a K-Street lobbyist can kill an environmental protection bill and I slam that drawer on his knuckles till I hear ‘em crack like Al Gore’s fighting spirit during the 2000 Florida vote count.

His eyes water up but he’s a tough old snapper and barely gives an inch: “Pinko, you just signed your death warrant,” he says to me. I’ve seen kinder eyes on a hungry Florida gator.

Maybe he’s right, but all of a sudden everything snaps into focus and I cluck him under his triple chin and say, “Buster Brown, there’s a pretty blonde used to work for the CIA that you deepsixed with your lousy underhanded ways, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s fat middleaged heels beating up on patriots in the name of patriotism.” I give him an awful shake, but he doesn’t rattle like a mariachi gourd, he wurbles and burbles like a waterbed in an earthquake. “And there’s another lady, brunette, not so pretty, working for the NY Times, Judith Miller’s her name, who’s about to land in the hoosgaw because of your lowlife backstabbing, and if there’s a second thing I hate, it’s fat bald spinmeisters sending news hens to stir when they oughta be there themselves.” For a minute I think I’ll shake him again, but then I remember my bad back and how fat he is and so I just slap his cheeks with my open hand until they turn a nice high color. “For once you won’t need rouge,” I says to him.

“You’re a dead man,” he croaks at me.

“Oh, tough guy, eh?” I says. “Here’s what you’re gonna do, Mr. Tough Guy.” And I take his nasty little pig nose and twist it. “You’re going on national TV tonight and you’re going to admit that you’re the dirty lowdown skunk that outted Valerie Plame and you’re the lying canary that leaked her secret identity to White House lickspittle Robert Novak. And you’re going to further admit that you smeared John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primaries and you smeared Ann Richardson by hinting she was a dyke in the ’94 Texas gubernatorial campaign and you were behind the Swiftboat For Truth slanders of Kerry in 2004 and that, well, hell, you’re the big fat liar behind this whole misbegotten administration and all its policy-driven fiascos.

“Everybody already knows that, fool. Anyhow, I’m not the only liar. ALL pols lie. I just do it better and balder than anybody else.”

And darned if he isn’t right and darned if that doesn’t make me so mad I twist his nose until it bleeds and he squeals like a stuck pig. “OK, OK, OK!” he says. “I’ll do it. I promise.” That makes me feel real good. I see a whole new future ahead for this wonderful country of ours. I see an administration built on truth and accurate intelligence and good science and concern for the people and honest reform, not this policy-driven demagogic nightmare we’ve been suffering under since 2000. But I’m so euphoric I let my guard down and Rove hits the alarm button in his kneehole with his one good hand and scores of Secret Service thugs pour in and kick my shins silly and the Bush daughters tweak my nose and just as I’m going down on the Presidential Seal rug I shout: “But you promised you’d confess on nationwide TV!” And Rove holds up his one good unbroken hand and says, “I had my fingers crossed the whole time you damned fool! You don’t know who you’re messing with. We’re sending you to Gitmo to clean latrines for angry Talibans. You’ll never be heard from again! And I may just send Judith Miller down there, too!!!”

Then all was blackness. Now here I am, swabbing Taliban pissers in Guantanamo. I have no serial number, no name, no charges against me. I’m an unperson. The only prisoner who’s the least bit kind to me is Judith Miller, that selfsame reporter from the NY Times. She’s in the next cell.

“Oh just tell the judge your sources, Judith,” I tell her. “Freedom of the Press is dead and Karl killed it.”

“I’ll never squeal,” she says, “it’s not in my nature.”

“Maybe not,” I say, “but they’ve got ways of making anybody talk down here.”

And she gulps and looks kinda shaky. “Cooper already coughed up the beans,” she says. “And they aren’t doing ANYthing to Novak. Why am I left holding the bag? It’s just not fair.” She’s a tough old news hen, but I can hear a sob in her clucking.

“It’s a rotten world, Judith. And nobody ever said it was fair,” I say as I scrub away. I find a soggy Koran in the latrine and fish it out with my plumber’s helper. Maybe it’ll still be legible after it dries in the hot Cuban sun. “At least somebody knows you’re down here,” I console her. “I just disappeared, maybe forever, and nobody said a thing.” And I go back to scrubbing and she back to brooding and wondering where America went and how this will affect her pension status and whether the Times will give her her backpay with interest if she ever gets outta here. It’ll be a pretty penny if they do.