Klepto was sitting at the big desk in the funny office that didn’t seem to have any corners or doors. Didn’t he come through a door? There was a window anyway. Why did they call it the Orville Office? Had Orville Redenbacher lived there? Maybe he made a big donation. But then where was the popcorn? There were reporters around and flashes were going off in his face so they must be taking pictures. He hoped the girl who put his face on did a good job. Jose, her name was, right? Something Mexican, anyway.
“Okay guys. This is my crack staff.” Klepto waved to the fresh-faced young people beaming photogenicly behind him. His cabinet wasn’t ready yet, so these were extras.
“Now, we’re not all talk and no action like the last guy who was here. We’re going to get right down to business. The people’s business. We’re going to do the people’s business like it’s nobody’s business.” He paused for laughs. No laughs. “Okay, here we go.” He picked up the phone and said, “Get me the Parks Department.” He nodded to the reporters to show he was in charge. “Hello, Smokey? Listen I want to know why there weren’t more people at my initiation. Invitation. Thing. The thing on Friday. What do you mean you’re not in charge of people? What are you in charge of, rocks and trees? Oh, right. Well, I need some pictures that show how many people were there. No, not the ones everybody saw. There weren’t any people in those pictures. I want alternative pictures with people in them. Alternative people. Haven’t you ever heard of Photoshop? Look, if you can’t doctor up some alternative pictures, get some from the last guy’s involution and slap a different tag on them. No it’s not lying. It’s a truthful hyperbole. Hyperbole. That words shows I went to college. Okay, get right on it. Because if you don’t…” Klepto gave a knowing look to the reporters “…YOU’RE EXPIRED! Yeah, like on TV. What do you mean I can’t fire you? I’m the boss, the Precedent. Civil service union? Damn!”
Klepto slammed down the phone. “See. All action around here. Now more phone calls. Hello, EPA. What does your agency do? Spell it out for me. Okay, stop doing that. And don’t talk about it. I don’t care if you get paid to do stuff. It’s not my money. Get me the NSF!
“Okay. Some quick questions then I have to go to another room and sign some papers Vice-Precedent Suit drew up. What do I think about the women’s march? Mostly fives, maybe some sixes. And a lotta ones, I have to tell you.
“What twenty percent? I never said anything about a twenty percent tariff on Mexico to pay for the wall. Yes, I know I said a forty-five percent tariff. Now I’m saying twenty percent. That’s called ‘negotiation.’ I’m the best negotiator in the world. That’s why I’m negotiating with myself. I only go with the best. But I never said twenty percent. Maybe fifteen.
“I don’t care what the President of Mexico says. Mexico is going to pay for the wall. We’ll pay for it first, then they’ll pay us back. Maybe not in money. In what? What’ve they got in Mexico? Tacos? Hats? Illegal aliens. Maybe they’ll pay us back in illegal aliens. I know I’m winning because the President of Mexico just walked away from the negotiations. In a negotiation you have to be able to walk away and that’s what we did. We agreed to walk away. And then I walked away because I’m winning. Are you tired of winning yet?
“Okay, now I’m signing—what am I signing? Suit always knows. Okay, this is a global gag order. It prevents women all around the world from gagging. No? Okay, then it’s to prevent them from getting pregnant unless I say so. That’s why it’s a gag order. No?” Vice Precedent Suit whispered. Everyone remarked he looked so much more Precedential than Klepto. Klepto nodded and said, “Not that kind of gag. It’s more like a joke, where all the women of the world tell jokes if they want American foreign aid.” Again the Vice Precedent whispered. “Okay, either it orders women around the world to gag or it does something else. Anyway I’m signing it. We do stuff around here. We make phone calls. We sign things. Not like the other guy with his sissy drone strikes.
“Now this one bans Muslims from entering the country. It doesn’t ban all Muslims. Muslims from Saudi Arabia are okay. No terrorists ever came out of Saudi Arabia. And Pakistan. Pakis are fine. Pakistan is a wonderful, prosperous, stable country that has long been at peace with its neighbors and has its own nuclear weapons. How about that? Their own A-bombs! Like I said, the world will be a safer place when every country has its own A-bombs like the Pakistanis. When the Saudis get bombs, they’ll be A-rab A-bombs.” Klepto paused for a laugh but got silence.
“Anyway this keeps out Muslims from places like Syria and Ethiopia where there is war and pestilence and suffering that they are trying to escape from. You know. Poor Muslims. Also these are places I don’t have Big Tops.”
A messenger rushed into the room and handed Klepto a piece of paper. “What’s this?” Klepto asked examining it, turning it upside down, then lengthwise, then front to back. “What’s this?”
His son-in-law Harlequin appeared like magic from behind him and whispered in his ear. “Oh. They can do that?” Klepto said. Then to the reporters: “It looks like the Supreme Court says I can’t ban people from this country based on their religion. Who do they think they are? I mean, they were much better with Diana Ross. Remember, ‘Stop, In The Name Of Love?’ Great song.” Klepto puts up his hand like a traffic cop and sings “Stop! In the name of love/Before you break my heart.” Tunelessly in the voice of a frog. “Anyway, I’m a great leader, so I’m going to ban them anyway. Like Andrew Jackson, the people’s president. He was a great leader. Remember the Trail of Tears. That was him. Let’s see ‘em stop me. Stop! In the name of love.
“Oh, it’s not the Supreme Court? It’s five other courts. You mean the Jackson Five? They were so much better with little Michael. Whatever happened to him?
“Okay, a few more questions and we’ll wrap it up. Yes, I love living in the White Home. It’s very elegant. Elegant. You know I have to walk a long way when I forget something, I mean usually I send Jose but this morning I forgot my pants. I couldn’t stand bareassed in the hall with the Marines there waiting for Jose to bring me my pants. It was a hell of a hike to get them, let me tell you. And the phones. Such beautiful phones. When you talk into them your words just explode—you know disappear. Just like they do in my head. But it’s so historic. Did you know other Precedents lived here? I haven’t seen any yet, but the place is so big. I’m sure I’ll run into some of them sometime. Lincoln. He’s the one I’d like to meet. I hope to run into old Honest Abe someday. Abe, if you’re wondering around the White Home, keep an eye out for me.
“The hardest thing about being Precedent? Truthfully, it’s not sleeping in my own bed. I used to fly in from all over the country during the campaign to sleep in my own bed. And the Tin Woman? She’s staying in the Big Apple until His Highness finishes school. No, I don’t mean the semester. I mean college. I hope he goes to my alma mater, but I hear Ringling Brothers shut down, so I guess they’re closing the Clown College too. Klepto University. They shut that down on me, but I didn’t settle. I only paid one hundred cents on the dollar. No compromise. Anyway, she says she’ll come down on weekends but she doesn’t like to fly. Or drive. Or take the train. She had some bad experiences with visas in her youth so she’s a little travel-phobic.
“The best thing about being Precedent? Well, I just doubled the membership rate at my private club—which anyone can join. It doesn’t matter whether you’re white or some inferior race. As long as you’ve got two hundred grand to pony up, you’re in. Now whether you go in the front door or the back door is private club policy. Not for me to say. Of course, I’m completely divested of all my assets. My sons run the business so I don’t know if I made any money on that deal.” Behind him, the Cowardly Lion Killer gave a big smile and a double thumbs up to the cameras.
“Okay, lunch time. Call it a day. Tomorrow I have to call The Wizard of Oz and tell him I’m lifting the sanctions.”
At this point, Adolph Hitler slid out from behind Klepto and told the media to shut up for a while and the Wicked Witch of the West told them they should all be fired. Then the meeting broke up.
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