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Life out there by Bret Kofford: A jolt to the nation

March 28, 2001

A recent cabinet meeting in the Oval Office:

Dick Cheney: "OK, we sure have gotten a lot done in just a few months here. We've taken care of our big contributors in big business by relaxing workplace safety and ergonomic standards and attacking environmental protections, and our friends and colleagues in the oil industry have to be happy that we have lifted the restrictions on allowing oil drilling in the outfields of high school baseball fields …"

(Cheney suddenly collapses on his desk and appears to lose consciousness.)

Colin Powell: "There he goes again. That's five heart attacks this week at cabinet meetings. This is kind of like when I had that narcoleptic lieutenant in Laos …"

George W. Bush: "I'll get the heart paddles, I'll get the heart paddles. It's my turn, it's my turn."

(The president reaches under the conference table and pulls out the defibrillator paddles and puts the paddles up to the chest of the comatose Cheney.)


George W. Bush: "Clear. (Looking at Colin Powell) Dammit, Peter, I said clear. I love it when they say that on ‘ER.' OK, here we go."

(The president zaps the vice president, who sits up quickly.)

Dick Cheney: "… our contributors in the oil industry have to be overjoyed. And we are almost set on that whole matter of getting taxpayer money to church organizations, right, John?"

John Aschcroft: "Well, we're running into a few legal hurdles, but I think anyone who knows me knows when I have a righteous cause I don't care about the la …"

(The vice president keels over again.)

Colin Powell: "Oh jeez. We're never going to get out of this meeting. I have lunch scheduled with Ariel Sharon at noon and I'm not going to make it. You can tell by looking at him that Ariel doesn't like to wait to eat. If I'm 15 minutes late to the meal he might have just gone ahead and conquered Jordan."

(John Ashcroft has moved to the limp figure of the vice president and starts praying near him.)

John Ashcroft: "Dear father, please take this man, this good Christian man despite having a lesbian daughter, and let him enter the gates of heaven …"

Gail Norton: "Hey John, why don't you try that hands-on healing thing again? It seemed to work when Dick croaked, when was it, the fourth or fifth time during that meeting last week?"

(Meanwhile, the president is crossing the room again wielding the heart paddles. He screams at John Ashcroft, "I already told you, Dr. Green, this is a code blue, so I want you to clear, and I mean stat." He then zaps the vice president with two jolts. The V.P. sits up quickly.)

Dick Cheney: "… and no one helped our campaign with cash contributions more than credit card companies and banks, and these new restrictions on people being able to file bankruptcy should make those companies ecstatic. That's what they ordered with their money and that's what we did."

George W. Bush: "Hey, Mr. Cheney, we ought to pass a law to require all businesses to have these defizzletor paddles on site. Think how many lives could be saved."

Dick Cheney: "Our contributors from the business world would never support it. Think about the cost to businesses, George."

(Colin Powell suddenly jumps up, yelps in pain and turns to the president in anger.)

Colin Powell: "George, how many times have we told you the paddles are not to be played with? And how many times have we told you it is not funny to defib people? Next time you defib anyone, particularly me, I am going to take the paddles away for good."

Dick Cheney: "Let's not get into all that stuff again, boys. We've got a packed agenda today. We've got important contributors to take care of. The whole deal to make our HMO friends happy by cutting the maximum size of malpractice awards to about the value of a Hostess Snowball two-pack seems to be set, and …"

(The vice president slumps over again.)

Colin Powell: "OK, this is really getting to be a big problem. Aside from slowing down the cabinet meetings, if Dick can't be revived from one of these heart attacks, we've got a serious situation on our hands. Who is going to take care of the agendas of our contributors? Who is going to run the meetings? Who is going to run the country? Who is going to be the leader of the free world?"

(All heads turn to the president, who is scurrying toward the vice president again with heart paddles in hand and a joyous grin on his face.)

John Ashcroft: "God help us."

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