Bad Connection

It's 3 a.m. on Jan. 21. The new president is dreaming about Inauguration Day, which was so triumphant, but also chock-full of surprises.

Who will ever forget when Pastor Rick Warren followed his invocation by presiding over a mass same-sex wedding? For that matter, who could ignore the homily wherein he recommended that the nation can avoid the controversy of gay marriage by adopting a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" approach.

Obviously, the bride and groom should know, or groom and groom, or bride and bride ... whatever. In any combination, their lives together shouldn't start off on the wrong, uh, foot, but under this proposal, it's nobody else's business who's tying the knot. Is that brilliant or what?

Outside the gates, the din continues. Traffic is still jammed to a standstill; the bars, open till dawn, are raucous. Hillary Clinton is drinking everyone under the table, downing her shots and beers. Bill Clinton is off partying somewhere and Vice President Biden is showing no signs of completing a "a few remarks.

None of this disturbs the White House, which was tightly insulated by President Bush and Karl Rove. Or was it President Rove and George Bush? We've already forgotten.

So it's eerily quiet at 3 a.m., when the phone rings, just as Hillary warned it would. Sadly, the desperate economic times have meant that before he left, the outgoing administration's Human Resources Director, Dick Cheney, had been forced to lay off all the White House operators. So the caller was answered by the new "Audix" recording.

"Hi, this is Barack Obama. You have reached the White House. Please listen carefully to the following options:

“For a government bailout, press 1.

“For corporate jet refueling, press 2.

“For the schedule of congressional hearings on the wasted bailout money, press 3.

“For tax tips from Timothy Geithner, press 4.

“For the schedule of confirmation hearings for Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner, press 5.

“For information on war crimes investigations, press 6.

“For leaving tips on the whereabouts of Bush administration leaders in hiding, trying to avoid subpoenas, press 7.

“For help in paying your bills, press 8. Quickly, before the telephone company cuts off your service.

“For progress reports on my various promises to fix the economy, provide almost universal healthcare, withdraw from Iraq, close Guantánamo Bay, etc., press 9, and wait. And wait ... and wait ...

“For a listing of jobs created by the new trillion-dollar stimulus, don't even bother waiting.

“For talking to someone in person, press 0, which will get you Pastor Warren, who will be with you as soon as he comes up with new and better personal public-relations strategies.

“For those who wish to speak in a language other than English, please stay on the line and your call will be redirected to the Homeland Security Department.

“For those of you who are Republicans, please hang up and call back when you have some ideas.

“And for all who are looking for an Inauguration Day symbol of what's to come in Washington, might I suggest that traffic gridlock.”



Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.

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