SPACED OUT POTUS
DOES IT TAKE LAUGHING GAS TO GIVE A PRESIDENT A THIRD TERM?
(Written by a spaced out Tom Gibbons)
The President of the
To be sure, someone was poisoning the food supply. Poisoning it with bacteria, that is. It was happening with increasing frequency as the years rolled by, and each time the American people had only become stronger in their collective belief that only he, and not his opponents, was strong enough to fight off the nefarious aliens. Occasionally one of his bolder political opponents would tentatively suggest that the real reason for the food poisoning was that he had cut all funds for inspecting food about six years ago. He did so in order to provide more funds to fight the space aliens who, up to that time, had confined themselves to pumping laughing gas into the homes of certain people. No one listened to such extreme views.
It had all started almost seven years ago during the
second year of his first term, while he was discussing
The President stood up to his full height of five feet and one inch, gave an angry scowl, and asked “Are you laughing at me?” When no answer seemed to be coming from the three people, who laughed even harder, the President continued. “Well there is no one else here is there? Do you see anyone else? So you must be laughing at me!” The President liked movies.
The Governor said. “Well, actually, there are about 30 people –“, but he was cut off by the President’s chief of staff.
“Mr. President, I don’t think they can help themselves. Something – maybe some kind of gas – might be making them laugh. Come to think of it, I do smell something.”
“That’s his after shave…” started the Governor, but his own chief of staff nudged him.
“It couldn’t be gas,” said the President, “No one else is laughing. You are not laughing.”
“Well – hee, hee – I am having trouble controlling – ha, ha, ho – my – ho, ho, hee, hee – myself.” And the President’s chief of staff started laughing, rather un-humorously, thought the governor. Soon everyone in the room except the President and the Governor was laughing like a maniac. Upon being nudged again by an aide, the Governor said “Ha.”
“That’s right,” said the President, “we’ve been gassed. It’s a gas attack. It’s laughing gas. I feel it myself. Haw, haw, haw, haw, haw.”
“I don’t think laughing gas affects people that wa…uffff,” said the Governor during another nudge. “Oh, OK. Har, har, har, har, har.”
UNKNOWN ASSAILANT (Governor too)
said a headline.
ATTACK ON POTUS, GOVERNOR AND PRESIDENT TARGETED,
NATION STUNNED, OUTRAGE IN CONGRESS, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WANT ANSWERS, MILITARY
ALERTED, BOMB THE BASTARDS
said others. A few days later, the President told a meeting, “I think we have to bomb them, and then bring democracy to them.”
A general said, “Bomb who?”
“Oh, right,” said POTUS.
So they tried to figure out who had gassed the President’s meeting, which was hard to do because no one could find any physical evidence of gas or any medical evidence that anyone in the room had been harmed.
“That proves it was someone really clever,” said POTUS.
There were also rumors that one of the original laughers, an assistant to the Governor, was saying that he was just laughing at the idea of the Cubs in the World Series. But whenever he suggested such a thing, the Governor’s political advisors slapped him down right in mid syllable saying that no matter what he couldn’t laugh at an athletic team in his own state.
So they were all mystified. Then, like a gift from heaven, there
came reports that four families in
“Great!” said POTUS in private, “now they’ll believe me. Was it really laughing gas? Did they laugh?”
“Nope. But it probably was nitrous oxide, though. No one was really harmed because it was too little gas in too large a space, and most everyone got out of there in a hurry. But one lady did seem ready to have her teeth drilled, and they found traces of it in the houses. No suspects yet, though.”
“What if there had been too much of it?”
“Oh, it might make you throw up, give you a big headache, and kill you.”
“Outrageous! Terrible! Disgusting! Evil beyond belief!” said POTUS in public. “I pledge to hunt these terrorists to the ends of the earth if that’s what it takes. Evil must die. We will never give in to their demands. I want them dead or alive.”
“What are their demands?” asked a reporter.
“What are their demands”, whispered POTUS to an aide.
“Dunno. Never heard of any.”
“We cannot compromise the investigation by disclosing them at this time,” answered POTUS to the satisfaction of all the news reporters in the room.
The Chicago police soon tied a group of teens, sort of a wannabe gang, led by one Alvin Cornpone to a couple of thefts of nitrous oxide from a couple of dentists, and they also found Cornpone’s fingerprints and some fingerprints of some of the others at two of the houses that had been attacked. But they could not find any evidence that they had been anywhere near the President’s meeting. Several witnesses saw them elsewhere at that time, and in fact, Cornpone himself was being escorted out of a baseball game for tapping into the PA system and calling balls and strikes. Also, the nitrous oxide thefts did not occur until three days after the President’s meeting.
But the police held off on arresting them, because President’s people wanted to just watch them for a while to see if they said or did anything that sounded critical or thoughtful. They set up a sting where a few other teenagers, loyal to the POTUS and his party, dressed up like scumbags and started baiting the suspects with lies like “The President might restart the draft so he can invade Iceland, what do you think?”
“What’s a draft?”
“What’s a president?”
Cornpone, himself, didn’t answer and tried for a few minutes to pretend he didn’t know any of the others.
So the President called a meeting. “Copycats, probably.” Said POTUSCOS (The POTUS’ Chief of Staff). “They saw it on TV and thought it would be fun.”
“Are you sure they didn’t do it to us,” asked POTUS?
“I am not sure that anyone did it to us,” said POTUSCOS, who had known the President for many years, so he could sometimes say things like that. “Hell, they were just Sox fans laughing at the Cubs. We could use it against them sometime.” The President would take a certain amount of questioning from this individual, but there were several political advisors in the room all of whom jumped up to their collective feet.
“Do you know that we are up 20 points in the polls since that attack? You are not really suggesting that we deny the attack in public now --” one of them said as POTUSCOS opened his mouth.
“Well,” said POTUSCOS, “the police
“Well I didn’t see anyone else in the
room,” said POTUS, “so they must have done it. I think we should arrest them on federal
terrorism charges. Then we can just
hold them and announce that
“OK, but you have to declare them to be terrorists.”
“Well, I declare.”
So Al Cornpone and his gang went to jail for attacking the president and the governor as well as the other houses, and POTUS announced that the dangerous evil scum were safely put away and Americans could now rest easy, lead their lives, and go shopping. Everything seemed fine, the President went up another 10 points, and it appeared that everyone but the scumbags was going to live happily ever after. But before anyone could write “The End” three of the Chicago detectives who were familiar with the evidence were rumored to have suffered an attack of conscience and to be talking to a Chicago newspaper columnist about the timing of Cornpone’s adventure with the PA system. The President quickly ordered that some dirt about their backgrounds be obtained.
He also ordered up some evidence that someone else had taken over the PA. That evening several TV talking heads started to trumpet this evidence and branded any suggestion that Al Cornpone even liked baseball as an ultraliberal plot. This confused most people because Cornpone’s presence at the game and the fact that he had been the one on the PA system had not yet been made public. POTUS fumed, “AFTER the story comes out. AFTER. Not now.”
Nevertheless the Al Cornpone gang was in a federal
prison for terrorism against the President’s meeting in
Of course, that didn’t seem like much of a gift at first, because the perps were supposedly in prison. But it worked out that way. The first Toonville victim had not seen or heard anything, but he did feel sick in the middle of the night. He decided that he had been attacked by gas and said so loudly and frequently the next day on all of the news and talk shows that flocked to the story. The fact that the doctors in the local hospital could find nothing wrong with him was not mentioned on most of the programs. Also, the story that Al Cornpone was the one who had commandeered the PA system at the ballpark was only noticed by four people, and they didn’t believe it.
The next night four more people from Toonville reported feeling sick from a gas attack. None of them had seen or heard anything either, and no doctor could find anything wrong. The chatter on the TV talk shows the next day drowned out everything except the baseball scores, and hardly anyone even noticed the scores. The next night, everyone in Toonville got sick and went to the hospital. They all said they had been attacked by gas except for one pregnant woman who was going into labor. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl about six blocks from the hospital in the middle of the street while waiting in line to get in. It was delivered by a nearby firefighter, and they sheltered it in the nearest house, where the door was still standing open after the owner had rushed out earlier to get in the line. Other than that woman, the doctors could not find any symptoms in any of them.
This time, one of the victims had seen the attacker and gave police a description (while they were all standing in the line). The attacker was green with three bugged-out, blue, bloodshot eyes six inches in diameter and two black antennae. It had emerged from a big white light that had fallen from the sky, rushed into the house, gassed the owner (who had been asleep and was still only one-third awake during the attack), jumped back into the light, and had taken off leaving trail of sparks shaped like pink elephants.
“Huh? Pink elephants?” said POTUSCOS. “I was believing it until that part.”
“You know,” said POTUS, “I think we have to reevaluate this whole thing. The terrorists might actually be from outer space.”
Several people in the room said, “Yeah, right.” Then they noticed he was serious, so they amended their comments to, “Yeah, that seems right.”
Promptly at eight o’clock the next morning, officials all over NASA and the Pentagon received top secret orders from the White House to carefully search the skies for pink elephants and to intercept and detain any pink elephants they discovered. Everyone stared at the order. By ten o’clock, no one in either agency had moved except that most mouths were open a little wider by that time. They were all still sitting there staring at the orders. Then an amended order arrived saying that the first version should not have said pink elephants. Instead it should have said flying white lights that left a trail of pink elephants. By noon no one had moved except that all mouths were now wide open. Then a new order arrived that said forget the pink elephants, just look for white lights in the sky.
“Oh, well, white lights. OK. Why didn’t they say so?” Soon a jet fighter was scrambled and tried to shoot down the sun. That night many white lights were reported, but NASA astronomers, checking their charts, identified them all as stars. Orders came from White House the next morning that said “Moving lights. Moving lights. Forget the sun and stars.”
The funny thing about moving lights is that there are so many of them. Some are airplanes. Some are searchlights playing on clouds. Some are earth satellites. Some are meteors. During the next two weeks, there were attempts to intercept, force down, or shoot down all of these. All of these attempts failed, which was especially fortunate for the airplanes, which the fighter pilots tended to recognize and avoid. But given enough of a chance, any accident can eventually happen.
About two weeks after the search for flying white
lights began something that the pilot interpreted as bullets tore into Wide
World Air Flight 417 as it approached the
As it happens, Interstate 70 lines up with the runway before veering off just short of the place where the drivers and the landing aircraft would have to start dodging one another. A chart in the cockpit carried the notation, “Please DO NOT land on Interstate 70”, but the pilot decided he had to do it anyway. When the copilot pointed out the drawback that the interstate was full of cars, they started to debate the issue. However the aircraft, which was equipped with an automatic landing system, settled the debate by landing itself in the lane carrying the oncoming traffic.
Fortunately, most of the oncoming drivers saw WWA 417 coming, so they veered off onto the shoulders. Other drivers, not watching the skies, did see the other cars peeling to the side and decided they might as well do it too. The nearly continuous traffic ahead of 417 looked just like a zipper opening – half to the right and half to the left – as everyone headed for the shoulders, which were not nearly wide enough for all the traffic they suddenly acquired. Some cars ended up on top of other cars; some deposited themselves in yards, parking lots, restaurants, bathrooms, motel roofs and swimming pools, and in one large ditch being used as a latrine by the overflow from a large night club with two small rest rooms. The whole mess caused 18 broken arms, 58 broken legs on 45 people, 9 broken necks, a lot of bloody noses and black eyes, and a nearly uncountable number of other body parts, including a number of embarrassing ones, with bruises, cuts, scrapes, and punctures.
In spite of all that, WWA Flight 417 made a perfect landing on the interstate and rolled to a stop with the zipper of expressway traffic opening just in front of it – sometimes just a few feet in front – all the way. There were no additional casualties on the airplane. It soon burned to a crisp, but everyone slid out down the emergency chutes although some of them slid right into the back of a jackknifed truck full of cattle.
Something like that gets noticed.
“What should I do?” wailed POTUS. “I didn’t tell anyone to shoot down a plane. Did anyone hear me say to shoot down a plane? I didn’t say that. I said to go after moving white lights with pink trails. Does that sound like a plane?” As news of his displeasure spread down into the lower levels and sublevels of the government, back up came a solid front of denials. It seems that no one had actually fired shots into that plane or any other plane, and in fact, no one had even conjured up a thought of doing so. The pilot who had accidentally shot down the plane was full of remorse and wanted to own up to it. So he was immediately transferred to the South Pole.
POTUS met with the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), the Vice President (VEEP), and the Secretary of Transportation (TRANSPO) to demand answers. “I think our enemies did it,” said SECDEF.
POTUS turned to TRANSPO and asked what the investigation showed. TRANSPO replied, “We shot it down.” A few hours later, he woke up at the South Pole.
VEEP offered, “The plane did burn, so there might have been a heat ray involved.”
“I knew it,” said POTUS. “The alien terrorists. They really are aliens.”
The President ordered up some evidence of an attack
from space, and radio and TV talk show hosts found plenty of witnesses who had
seen lights in the
It cost a lot of money to build enough new rockets with nuclear warheads to train on Mars, Venus, the moon, and most of the empty space around the earth just in case there were invisible spaceships there. Besides that, it was necessary to create a program to screen everyone who was already here on the earth just to make sure they were all born here. That much DNA testing is expensive even before you figure in the cost of all the new labs, not to mention all the new mouth swabs. So that is when POTUS started cutting funds from food inspections as well as other programs.
Before long there was the first case of food poisoning. Then there was another. It was clear to most TV viewers, in other words most people, that aliens from space were tampering with the food. Therefore, most people reasoned, the aliens were among us, and it was necessary to step up funding for the DNA testing program in order to discover them. A few brave and radical souls timidly suggested checking the food itself, but that tended to go in one ear and out the other for anyone who even heard it.
In fact, the fight against the aliens needed so much money that there had to be other cuts elsewhere. Inspections to ensure worker safety were curtailed for lack of funds.
Then came the first instance of alien sabotage of the
workplace in which several workers were injured. This war was getting serious. In fact, by the time that the president’s
first term was over and he was running for reelection, sabotage of the food
supply and the workplace was becoming so common that voters were starting to
lose their marbles. So had a marble
factory in the
He wanted to give some fireside chats on TV, but he couldn’t find a fire. The only one in the White House was in the furnace. So he decided to give chats from the kitchen instead, reasoning that if he ate some food during the talks it would help to calm everyone. The talks were well written and were successful at first until someone noticed that the president had an aide standing by who tasted everything before the president ate it. But he explained that having two people eat was double proof that the food was safe.
His resolute attitude carried him to victory in the election, because everyone trusted him to be the last, best hope to defeat the aliens. In fact they trusted him so much that a spontaneous movement sprang up to pass a constitutional amendment allowing this president to remain in office until the emergency with the aliens was over. According to the amendment, the next presidential election could be held, but the winner could not take office until the aliens were officially defeated. POTUS himself was assigned to make the official declaration of mission accomplished to signal the end of the war.
At first the movement toward this amendment was not taken very seriously; only a few state legislatures passed resolutions demanding it. But the opposition party suddenly realized that its only chance to win a presidential election might be to persuade the voters that the winning candidate from their party would not, in fact, become the president. Then, with both major parties supporting it, the amendment sailed through congress and was submitted to the states. By this time, another two years has passed, so it was not clear whether it would be ratified before the election.
During the following year conventions in thirty states
ratified the amendment and eight more were needed. Enough conventions were scheduled during
the election year, but by that time, doubts were starting to appear about the
wisdom of the president’s policies.
The doubts started when some wild-looking guy showed up on TV claiming
to be the pilot who had accidentally shot down the jet plane in
He was considered just another nut until someone else in the same condition showed up claiming to be the Secretary of Transportation and telling the same story. A few people in the news business suddenly remembered that no one had seen a Secretary of Transportation for years, which had not bothered anyone since no one knew for sure just what one of these did. The combination of these two people telling the same story at least started a few people in the country to thinking, although at first as a precaution they vociferously denied any such thing to anyone who asked. The denials were encouraged by the fact that some DNA evidence somehow turned up showing both of the self-proclaimed whistle blowers to, in fact, be aliens that seemed to be sort of human reptiles. They both then disappeared.
But the idea that there were no aliens started to spread and to take root although not among people who actually had to run for any office because the idea seemed much too radical. It also seemed to be alien in origin, and the hunt for aliens amongst us intensified. More alien results turned up in the DNA tests, more people were rounded up, and ways to send them back into space were researched.
Internet bloggers broke the news of a scandal in which a private group, which denied any connection with the government, was intercepting DNA samples and gene-splicing some lizard DNA into the human samples before sending them along for testing. When this hit the TV news, POTUS called the whole story a fake created by his enemies, said that it was probably invented by a lizard and that the private group did not even exist, and strongly denied any connection to the group. This satisfied most people, but the seeds of doubt had been planted, and they grew and were nourished by the increasing stream of news about food poisoning, breakdowns in industry, and midnight gas attacks on homes by pink elephants. It just started to look like POTUS might not be on top of the situation.
So the opposition gained strength, especially in the states having ratification conventions during the election year. They fought over the convention rules, the methods of choosing delegates, the times and places of the conventions, the voting methods, the lunch meat, whether there should be cushions in the chairs, whether the delegates should be required to be human, and whether any lizards should be allowed into the meetings.
As it happened, seven more conventions ratified the amendment before the day of the presidential election, more narrowly with each succeeding convention, leaving the amendment one state short. There was one convention scheduled right on Election Day, the result of a hard-fought compromise between a faction wanting it before the election and a faction wanting it afterwards. Whether this convention would ratify the amendment was too close to call.
Of course, the president couldn’t run again, so
the vice president did. The
candidate for the opposition was the same governor of
This issue was persuasive to the political middle, where people were willing to allow an investigation. Those who had become convinced that POTUS was nuts thought that GOVILL was a big wimp, but he was also the lesser of two evils. So GOVILL won the election. But on the same day, the final convention ratified the amendment, which was written to take effect the instant it was ratified. So POTUS was the president until he said he wasn’t.
A grassroots campaign to persuade POTUS to declare mission accomplished was organized, but it was somewhat discredited when GOVILL turned out to be one of the roots. The campaign asked publicly whether there had ever been any aliens. POTUS answered that if there had never been any aliens, then the war on aliens could never have started, and what was never started could never come to an end. Since there would never be an end, then he was president for life. GOVILL called that an admission that the war had never started and therefore that it was over, therefore he, GOVILL, was president. So he decided to hold an inauguration ceremony. POTUS also decided to hold a similar ceremony, which would not of course be an inauguration because he was just continuing in office. So he called it the “Standing Tough Until Parting Is Determined” observance. Then someone pointed out the acronym, so he changed the name to Day Under My Banner.
When the big day arrived, there were two
speakers’ platforms on the steps of the capitol building,
side-by-side. Two parades come down
the street, by different routes, neither one of which was the traditional
Then both presidents started to speak at once, because they had not been able to find a compromise on that one. Out of the loud speakers came language such as, “On on this this magnificent wonderful day afternoon on on which which we we observe celebrate change continuity…” At that point both PA systems stopped working and nobody could hear what either president was saying. Instead a single voice, loud, clear, and commanding, filled the air.
It said, “You are my beloved children in whom I might become well pleased if I could just get over laughing hysterically at all of you. Please enter the nearest insane asylum immediately.”
POTUS fell to his knees and said. “My God.” At the same time GOVILL thought “Aliens, really?” But members of the secret service, several members of the press, and many bystanders and TV viewers noticed that behind the trailer where both PA systems were being controlled, someone was shouting into a microphone. The man looked up, turned back to the microphone, and the loud speakers shouted, “Pay no attention to that man behind the trailer.”
POTUS tried to remember where he had heard that one
before, but the voice continued, even louder, “That man is of no
significance, just listen to…uh…oh to hell with it. Go ahead and look at the trailer. Its me, Al Cornpone. I just commandeered the PA system just
like at the ballpark in
After that there were several minutes of silence followed by a soft chant from a few people in the crowd which grew in intensity and fervor as people all around the capitol building said over and over, “Cornpone for president. Cornpone for president, Cornpone for president, At least he is honest. When he breaks the law he admits it. Cornpone for president. Cornpone for president…”