But what launched the Scripts Institute was Iraq. There'd been a brief flap in the news when it emerged that an "informal" videoconference between the president and troops in Iraq had been heavily scripted. Heck, they even had an Iraqi soldier reciting, "Thank you for everything. Thank very much for everything. I like you!" so fervently that people thought Bush might name him to the Supreme Court.
It had already been revealed that similarly pro-U.S. quotes from everyday Iraqis had been fabricated in Pentagon news releases. That fiction-packed October, it was also learned an "intercepted al-Qaeda communique" that lent credence to the Bush storyline was a forgery, source unknown, as were two domestic terror alerts that underscored a Bush speech about his own remarkable vigilance. Karl Rove was churning out more copy than David E. Kelley.
Bush's handlers had covered all the bases, not just feeding him lines, but also our troops, our allies, the public, even our enemies. Inside that hermetic world, everything was hunky-dory and on-course. Stick your head outside, and Iraq was amok with explosions, corruption, blackouts, privation and nine flavors of death squad, so who'd want to go outside?
It began occurring to some of the best and brightest that if everyone were on-script, life would be smoother for all concerned. If your company's product review or annual report didn't tally with expectations, why not do as the White House did and get loyal aides to rewrite it? There'd certainly be less workplace strife if labor were reading off management's page. In households, dysfunctional families were already clamoring to have Dr. Phil and others come in and tell them what to say to each other, so why not get some full-time assistance there?
Partnering with government and business, the Scripts Institute came to the rescue. In a couple of years, people didn't even think about doing without a bug in their ears, especially since the Freedom Enhancement Act of 2007 made it mandatory. President Cheney said, "That way He'll always be with us," meaning the late President George W. Bush, felled that year by an assassin's pretzel. That, too, was scripted, making brother Jeb's election a sympathy shoo-in, though the new Diebold iVote machines -- dispensing free music and game downloads for the right vote -- guaranteed that anyway. Cheney returned to his secure location, where he remains VP, sustained by a steady diet of Malaysian kidneys.
And here we stand today, the new Camelot. The gig has privileges; it's one of the few domestic jobs that don't involve organ harvesting. And we've got a great view. Right out my window I can see where Balboa Island was before Hurricane Zoloft washed it away. The same two guys in dinghies are out there every day, arguing over whose now-submerged frozen banana stand had been the first. And on the street below, the next line of school buses is pulling up.