The Snake of the Union Address

A preview of the Jan. 29 speech

Photo by Jack Gould "Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States."

The president moves into the Capitol Rotunda, pressing the flesh of the congressfolk clogging his path to the dais.

That's quite a grip, Mr. Thurmond. . . . I say, Ms. Feinstein, have you been working out to Buns of Steel?

He reaches the podium, basks in the ovation, turns around to bask his hind side, then faces the crowd and spreads his hands out like he's smoothing a bedspread.

Folks, thank you. Thank you. . . . You know, I had a comprehensive plan all drawn up on how to heal the economy, restore our nation's natural resources and ensure that the blessings of liberty are equally bestowed upon all. I had it all ready for you in a Pee-Chee folder tonight, but then some terrorists ate it.

Now if only I could get them to eat some pretzels! Thank you! I'll just stand here and chortle to myself like that was the funniest thing ever said, while you also laugh like it was the funniest thing ever, and then I'll give you some equally tedious variations, and we'll laugh it up all over again.

Now I'd like to introduce some lumpy but heroic Americans who we're going to applaud like crazy for the courageous way they selflessly devote their time and talents to others even as our corporate paymasters squeeze the last bit of life from them. We salute you, little people. Godspeed to you all, I say. You are good people, hard-working people, and it just melts our innards to see the heartfelt appreciation you have for the crumbs of tax relief we toss your way. Now stay alert; I'll be singling you out whenever I need a dash of cheap sentimentality.

As I speak to the nation tonight, many Americans are worried about their jobs in this unstable, fast-changing world. Let me tell you, I know what it is like to be hungry and not know where your next paycheck is coming from, as surely as I know how it feels to be a mother bear giving birth to a passel of cubs who instinctively seek out her teats and latch on. They call that "empathy." I'm a very compassionate man. When you hurt, I hurt, especially in my teats.

But I'm not standing here crying. You know why? It's because I have faith in the American worker. He's the best in the world. I'm confident the American worker can outproduce any other worker on the planet; so confident that I'm betting he can hold his own against overseas factories where workers earn $6 for 12-hour days and are jailed if they try to unionize. The American worker is built Ford-tough, and he can take a lot in the rear, if you know what I mean.

Let's hear a bunch of applause now for one proud American worker who certainly knows what I mean, Mr. Toby Dammit of Wichita Falls, Texas. He busted his hump working for Enron and, like thousands of other plucky little guys, lost his life savings when the inventive scam presided over by my friend and supporter Kenny Lay collapsed. As Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said, those risks are part of "the genius of capitalism." Freedom has risks. Why, some wealthy investors barely escaped with their fortunes intact! And you, Mr. Dammit, I know you've got the kind of can-do spirit that has you rarin' to start from scratch at age 64. Bless you, little man. We couldn't stand so tall if we weren't standing on you.

When Vice President Dick Cheney needed input for our nation's energy policy, you really couldn't ask for better secret meetings than the ones we had with Enron officials. They knew secrets even we didn't know! There has been some gripin' and grumblin' about us ignoring consumers and environmentalists, but we needed dreamers, not naysayers, people with the gumption to see how far a man can go when he doesn't have government regulations holding him back.

I'm a friend of the environment, and I want to see it reach its fullest potential. Otherwise, nature is like a pretty girl sittin' at home on a Friday night instead of out gettin' ridden by some randy fellas in a pickup bed. And that's why two weeks ago, my administration took the state of California to court to clear the way for more offshore drilling there, why we're changing the rules on wetlands development, why we're gutting mining regulations and the Clean Air Act. I say this to the enemies of the United States: you will not keep us from our important work.

I'm also the Education President, and we need to spend our education dollars teaching character and core values. Kids today are reading Horton Hears a Who! What nonsense gobbledygook is that? Meanwhile, they don't know about the good works of folks like Interior Secretary Gale Norton. But they will when we give them their new titles like Norton Clears a Forest and Dicky Cheney and the Chamber of Secret Government. Cut me the switch I need, and we'll leave no child's behind!

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