What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Desperate Student, Episode 8: Civilian Target

Having just been recruited and transformed into a body double for the President of the United States of America, I was loaded into an inconspicuous commuter jet with my boss, Jake, and several other Secret Service creeps. I was given a laptop with the keyboard hammered in so I couldn't type anything. Naturally, I went to FCN to get caught up. I stopped short when I noted Hank the Janitor's helpful comment about my voice.

"Hey, Jake," I said over the quiet hum of the plane, "I don't sound anything like Bush."

"You will," Said Jake. "We will implant a device at the base of your throat that changes your voice to sound just like the President."

"What about the accent?"

Jake hefted a box that might be used to hold dentures. The letters "TEXAS TWANG" were sprawled across the top. "This is a wire structure which will be attached to your lower jaw, back teeth, and the roof of your mouth," He said. "It will force you to speak with a Texan accent."

"That's amazing," I said, temporarily too astounded by the technology to wonder what it would feel like in my mouth.

"Science marches on," Said Jake. "Of course, the technology isn't quite perfect, but it's come a long way since Harrison Ford's Russian accent in K-19: The Widowmaker."

We rode on in silence. A half-hour before landing, a creep came in and handed a stack of papers to Jake. Jake skimmed them, then handed them to me.

"What's this?" I asked.

"Your speech. Get familiar with it. When we land, we'll drill it into you."

I started reading. The speech was about a half-hour long, written in Karl Rove's sloping longhand. It spoke of the radical fringe Muslims that were giving the religion a bad name, of an immigration policy that makes American opportunity available for everyone, of cracking down on nuculer pulifration, and fixing the Social Security crisis. Nothing particularly new or interesting, but there were a few good lines. I started memorizing.

We landed at a small airport in the middle of a dense forest. I was escorted to a three-SUV motorcade (all black Escalades), and taken from there to a fortified compound with gun towers, barbed wire, and speed bumps. Jake took me to the main building and down a flight of stairs to a large cement basement, brilliantly lit with florescent lights. I noticed that everyone but me had credential cards around their neck and asked Jake about it.

"Don't be stupid," Jake said. "You're the President. Nobody's going to check your ID."

For the next three days, I lived and breathed George W Bush. I watched tapes, made speeches, even walked in a spandex suit with sensors that detected where my Texas Gait was going awry. The installation of the voice box and accent wires was extremely painful, but eventually the gag reflex wore off. Finally, the big night arrived. I was loaded into a very large motorcade (I couldn't see how big), and we drove for several hours. We stopped in a back lot at the Madison Square Garden Center.

Surrounded by security, I marched into a back room, where my makeup was put on. Then I was escorted behind a stage.

"This is it," Said Jake. "Do your thing, and I'll be right here when you're finished."

"Jake," I whispered, "I get stage fright."

"Your mike is on," Jake answered. Then the curtains parted and I saw a crowd of thousands of people clapping. Blindingly bright lights blasted into my face from above. I walked up to the podium in my Texas Gait, grinning and flashing thumbs ups. I looked up into the balcony at Laura Bush's body double and threw her a loving smile.

I took my place at the podium, adjusted the notes, and waited for the applause to die down. Then, as rehearsed in practice, I read from the teleprompter:

"Members of the Radical Muslim Fundamentalists who Hate America, it is my distinct pleasure to come and speak to you here today." I noticed that the audience consisted almost entirely of fat white guys with Dodgers baseball caps.

"Keep going," Said Jake from my ear piece.

"I speak to you tonight at a crucial moment in history. Every day, the corners of the world grow closer, and ..." I trailed off. There were thousands of people in the room watching me, and millions more watching from TV. I was about to deliver a completely bland speech to this audience - a speech full of things I didn't believe in. The advice of GotEvidence flashed through my mind.

"Don't stop!" Jake hissed from my ear.

"Fellow Americans," I said, "I came to you today with a speech that my good friend Karl wrote for me. But frankly, that speech doesn't say what needs saying. So I'm not going to say it."

"What are you doing!?" Jake cried.

I pressed on. "The fact is, America is in a major crisis. Both major parties are failing in their jobs miserably. The Democrat party has become the voice of radicalism, consumed by hatred for all who are not in lockstep with their insane, untenable, and demeaning ideology. We Republicans have become the voice of compromise. We can't bear criticism, and the idea of standing up for what we know is right makes us wet our diapers. The voice of conservatism has been lost from public debate. Instead of arguing against the redistribution of wealth, we seek to restructure Social Security. Instead of maintaining our national integrity, we try to blend every conceivable immigration position into a single disastrous soup. We hand out money to anyone who asks, seeking to be loved by all for our compassion, but only to be criticized for the monstrous deficit we're expanding.

"Someone once told a great story that I'm going to share with you tonight. A man and his son were traveling to a nearby town. The man mounted his donkey, while the son walked alongside. They passed a group of travelers, who clucked their tongues and said: 'Look, the man takes advantage of his son, forcing him to walk alongside.' The man, eager to please, dismounted and had the son ride. Soon, they passed another group of travelers, who clucked their tongues and said: 'Look, the son, who is full of youth and vigor, forces his aging father to walk.' Eager to please, the man mounted up behind his son. The people said: 'Look, those two fools will kill that donkey with their combined weight.' So the man and his son tied their donkey to a pole and carried it between them. But while passing over a bridge, they lost their grip, and the donkey fell into the river and drowned.

"My friends, we Americans are the doing the same thing. The greatest danger to our country is not terrorism or energy prices, it is compromise. It is a paralysis caused by fear. It is a gridlock caused by a vacuum of leadership. The statesmen of America have been consumed by petty squabbles, selfishness, and short-term thinking, while the nation that elected them slides deeper and deeper into chaos. No longer do we debate issues. Now, we broker power."

"Bring him down," Said Jake. "Now!"

"Copy," Said a strange voice. "Sierra One taking position."

I continued. "Disillusioned Americans look up at Washington and claim that modern politics is causing our problems. They are wrong. Politics is the problem."

I saw a flash of light from the corner balcony, and something cold and hard zipped between my ribs and out the other side. I gasped. My legs were kicked out from under me and I fell, sending Rove's script fluttering through the air like so many doves in flight.

I woke in a hospital bed. Jake was sitting next to me, reading Harry Potter and the Really Cool Magical Dude. My hips were bandaged and my right arm was in a sling.

"Hey," I said weakly. Jake nodded without looking up from his book. "Jake. Hello." He looked up, irritated, and tossed a newspaper onto my lap. Across the top, in huge print, ran the headline:


"What about my speech?" I asked, bewildered.

"The president was poisoned by the Radical Muslims," Jake said calmly. "The poison damaged his judgment - hence the loony speech - but did not kill him. Seeing this, they got a sniper to assassinate him. He is in bad shape, but he will survive. "

"What about me?"

Jake handed me a mirror. I looked, and felt a wave of relieved affection to see my own ugly mug smiling back. I had been fixed. My mouth and throat were empty.

"You'll be shipped back in a few days," Jake said. "You will tell everyone you stepped on a rake. You will never breathe a word about this, ever, to anyone."

"What about my girlfriend? Can't I tell her?"

"Well, okay. You can tell your girlfriend. But no one else, or we'll make the FDA test pesticides on your eyes.""

"What, are you going to tap my phone? Read my email?"

Jake smiled grimly. "We already do."


Tim said...

I think William McGurn is Bush’s current speechwriter. But you were doing better than him – have you considered this as a career? Seriously, I really want to hear the rest of your speech. What were you, as President, going to do about this downward spiral?

Lady A said...

"They already do." Always distrubing. Do you realize that SOMEONE could be tagging what I am writing right now? Creepy.

Ryan said...

very thought-provoking.

Anonymous said...

Aww, you poor thing!! :D

Hannah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah said...

Great speech. Ever plan on running for president?

Allison said...

The Desperate Student Series is very effective... I will remember to never, ever, ask you for job advice.


Nice work.