(The setting is a very dark, wood-paneled room, a private dining area at one of Washington, D.C.’s most exclusive and expensive restaurants. Seated at the room’s only table are House Speaker John Boehner and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Paul Ryan. As they make small talk, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell enters the room. Boehner and Ryan rise to greet him.)
McCONNELL: Geez, John, you couldn’t find a darker and more depressing place for us to talk?
BOEHNER: Not one that’s free, no.
McCONNELL: Free? I like free.
BOEHNER: Courtesy of Jamie Dimon and our friends at J.P. Morgan Chase along with their thanks for everything we continue to do to water down Dodd-Frank and keep the Justice Department off their backs and Jamie out of jail.
McCONNELL: Nice. In that case, son (gesturing toward a waiter who just entered the room), I’ll have a bourbon and branch and keep ‘em coming.
BOEHNER: Actually, the room’s courtesy of J.P. Morgan Chase but the alcohol’s a gift from the Koch brothers as an expression of their thanks for trying to get government regulations out of the way so the boys can earn a living.
McCONNELL: Bless them.
(A waiter arrives with three large plates that are completely covered with enormous steaks and three smaller plates with huge baked potatoes that are almost invisible under a mound of butter. For the next few minutes the men eat. At one point Ryan glances at McConnell and a look of disgust spreads across his face as he observes that the Senate majority leader chews with his mouth open.)
RYAN: So let’s get down to business, shall we, gentlemen? We’re now in the majority in Congress and in complete control of the agenda. What do you think our priorities should be for the next two years?
McCONNELL: Keep your shirt on, son. We’ll get around to that. First, I want to talk about what we plan to do to mess with the Kenyan.
BOEHNER: I say we bottle up his nominees for everything from judgeships to dog-catchers.
RYAN: I don’t think the Senate confirms dog-catchers, John.
McCONNELL: He was speaking metaphorically, Paul.
BOEHNER: What does that mean?
McCONNELL: I have my eyes on bigger fish.
McCONNELL: Fish sticks. Pizza. Chicken nuggets. French fries! I want us to go after the Department of Agriculture and the school lunch program.
RYAN: I don’t think that should be a priority but it’s certainly worth doing. There’s no reason schools should be in the business of feeding poor children. That’s their parents’ job, not taxpayers. If the parents feed them, fine, but if they choose not to, if they refuse to work hard enough to be able to afford to feed their own children, that’s not the government’s fault and it shouldn’t be the government’s responsibility.
McCONNELL: No, you fool, the farmers and ranchers in my state and yours need the federal government to buy their products. I’m not talking about doing away with the program – just, um, modifying it a little.
RYAN: But in a free-market economy those businesses need to sink or swim based on their own efforts, not with the help of the market-warping effect of government largesse.
McCONNELL: Save the speech, son. This is about politics, not market economics. I’m talking about reversing all the things Michelle Obama is doing to improve the nutrition of school lunches, as if that should be of any concern to the federal government. Those people should be grateful for any slop we put in front of them. The best way to get the Kenyan is to stick it to his wife.
BOEHNER: I’d love to stick it to his wife.
BOEHNER: If you know what I mean.
McCONNELL: We know what you mean, John, but you’d have to spend a hell of a lot more time in that tanning bed of yours to have a shot with the likes of her. But this is a good way to start, by overturning everything she’s tried to do for the past six years. We change the nutrition standards back to the way they used to be, more meat and chicken and potatoes and higher fat food and whole milk that real people like and none of those tofu burgers and broccoli chunks that the eastern elitists want to force down our kids’ throats.
BOEHNER: And we can even make ketchup a vegetable again, just to show that we can.
RYAN: But we should focus on more important things, like the deficit.
McCONNELL: That’s wrong, son. Absolutely wrong.
RYAN: But it’s the single biggest problem that threatens us as a country.
McCONNELL: No, son, it’s not. Democrats are the biggest threat to our country. But when it comes to deficits, Dick Cheney was right: deficits don’t really matter. And speaking of Dick, tonight’s dinner was courtesy of Halliburton.
BOEHNER: (raising his glass) To Halliburton.
RYAN and McCONNELL: To Halliburton.
BOEHNER: So it’s true after all, huh.
MCCONNELL: What is?
BOEHNER: That there really is such a thing as a free lunch.
RYAN: But seriously, the deficit…
McCONNELL: No, son, we don’t care about the deficit. You like to come off like you’re this serious intellectual, but think about it: you only hear Republicans talk about deficits when Democrats are in control. When we’re in charge we want to spend on our priorities: helping our friends make money by getting them government contracts, eliminating regulations, ensuring international markets for their businesses, and pretending that illegal immigration bothers us while actually encouraging as many illegals as possible to cross the Mexican border to provide cheap labor for our friends in agriculture and other industries and artificially keep wages down and profits up.
BOEHNER: He’s right, Paul. George W. inherited that damn Clinton surplus and in no time had us deficit-spending again, bless his befuddled heart. Even Ronald Reagan (crosses himself) was a wild-ass spender. The deficit skyrocketed under him.
RYAN: It most certainly did not.
BOEHNER: Did too.
RYAN: Did not.
BOEHNER: Did too, did too.
RYAN: Did not, did not.
McCONNELL: Look it up later, son, and write us a report about it, but in the meantime, let’s move on.
BOEHNER: Yes, let’s. Besides, a lot of our supporters count on being able to buy all sorts of treasury notes for their portfolios and if there’s no deficit there’s no treasury notes and bonds and things like that. Anyhow, I’m more interested in looking at the Secret Service and its deterioration under the Kenyan.
RYAN: Surely we have more important issues – the economy, our continued involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the abuses of the NSA, Common Core…
McCONNELL: None of which are more important than embarrassing the Kenyan. So what do you think we should do, John?
BOEHNER: Don’t ask me. You’re the master of nasty politics, Mitch, not me. Another scotch, please.
RYAN: But this is our big opportunity to show the American people that we can govern: reform Medicare, privatize Social Security, get the federal government out of public education, stop wasting taxpayer money on nonsense like solar energy, things like that. After six years of being the party of no, this is our chance to become the party of yes.
BOEHNER: Besides, it’s easier to focus on what a bad job the other guys are doing than it is to try and actually do something ourselves.
McCONNELL: Exactly. People look at Congress and try to judge us based on silly things like how many bills we pass, as if you can judge Congress’s work like it’s a baseball box score. The media is so damn gullible.
BOEHNER: Amen, brother. Another scotch, please.
McCONNELL: By the way, this is a very special scotch sent over by Lockheed Martin, which looks forward to a Republican-inspired increase in defense spending in 2015. So as I was saying, the media looks at gridlock and the modest number of bills we pass as proof that Congress is unproductive, but we know better. It’s exactly what we want: government that does as little as possible. It’s really pretty simple, actually: instead of us rolling back the crap Democrats have foisted on the American people since the depression, we let Johnny Roberts and his activist little band of Supreme Court justices do it for us. God bless Robert Bork and this “originalist” crap he fabricated in that devious imagination of his. Imagine, persuading educated lawyers and judges that after more than two hundred years of looking at the constitution one way that they need to stop interpreting what the constitution actually says and start pretending they have a clue in hell about what the people who wrote the constitution intended and follow that instead of what the document says right there in black and white. Roberts, that slammin’ Sammy Alito, and of course Nino Scalia, who’s crazy as bat-shit, have totally swallowed the Bork Kool-Aid. Sometimes I’m almost embarrassed to draw a government paycheck because they’re doing all the dirty work for us.
(The door opens and a man enters)
PAUL: I heard you three were trying to plot our future in Congress and thought I should crash and make sure the perspective I represent is heard. I came here, by the way, in a limousine furnished by ExxonMobil and fueled by a prototype of the gasoline they envision producing once we clear the way for the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s an inferior grade of gasoline in every way, just a totally dirty gas that puts out more pollution and gets worse mileage, but they say they can make a lot of money on it, so they’ll be looking to us to help eliminate air quality standards and car mileage requirements.
BOEHNER: Doesn’t sound like a heavy lift to me.
MCCONNELL: Nah, we can do that.
BOEHNER: And then think of the government contracts we’ll be able to give out to clean up the environmental mess that dumbass pipeline is gonna cause.
MCCONNELL: A drink for the junior nitwit from Kentucky please, waiter.
PAUL: I don’t want you guys plotting without me. I want to make sure we do as little as possible. My constituents certainly didn’t send me to Washington to do things. They elected me to the Senate because I told them that as a libertarian I would do absolutely nothing, and that’s what I intend to do, it’s what I’m best at. I want to show them that when it comes to talking a good game and then doing absolutely nothing I’m a man of my word and the best there’s ever been.
RYAN: Maybe the craziest who’s ever been – even crazier than that crackpot of a father of his.
PAUL: Always so serious, Ryan.
RYAN: These are serious times, and except for when I’m grooving on Led Zeppelin and Nirvana, I’m a serious guy who wants to confront the serious issues before us in a serious way.
PAUL: Seriously, Paul, as a doctor, I prescribe a high colonic for you. I think that’ll fix what ails you.
RYAN: You’re an eye doctor, Rand, that’s barely even a real doctor, but if you must know, what ails me is that we have this amazing opportunity to advance our conservative agenda and you guys seem intent on doing nothing more than engaging in schoolyard politics.
McCONNELL: Reverend Jeremiah Wright! William Ayers! Van Jones! His heroes Biggie and Tupac! And I’m sure we can find some more.
RYAN: Biggie and what?
McCONNELL: And you think you’re so hip, Ryan, I swear. Biggie and Tupac, the dead rappers.
BOEHNER: Whoever. What about them?
McCONNELL: The Kenyan’s radical friends. We can start talking them up again. And Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky. And who murdered Vince Foster.
BOEHNER: Those are Clinton’s scandals, not Obama’s, Mitch.
McCONNELL: All those Democrats look alike to me.
BOEHNER: Your inaccuracies aside, do you really want to dredge up such old news?
McCONNELL: Absolutely. They’re always good for distracting the guys over at Fox News, who in turn can distract the rest of the country. This is part of what we do: we need to give Hannity and O’Reilly and the other people, like Limbaugh and Beck, some red meat to chew on every now and then. You know, it energizes our base.
(The door opens and another man enters)
McCONNELL: Sure as hell not me.
CRUZ: Rand called when he got wind of what’s going on over here and the National Association of Energy Service Companies sent a limo to bring me over as thanks for my proposal to eliminate emissions standards for power plants.
McCONNELL: There goes the neighborhood.
CRUZ: Ryan’s right, but he’s wrong.
RYAN: Come again?
CRUZ: You’re right that we need to do things but wrong about what we need to do. We don’t need to reform Medicare; we need to eliminate Medicare. We don’t need to privatize Social Security; we need to eliminate Social Security – and the Department of Education, the Commerce Department, and the EPA and all of its regulations. I believe the best way to do this and more is to shut down the whole damn federal government!
BOEHNER: The boy’s delusional. We tried that, Teddy, but it didn’t work because the federal government still does enough that people miss it when it stops doing those things.
RYAN: That damn forty-seven percent.
MCCONNELL: Amen to that, brother.
CRUZ: My family, we got ours, and now that we have, I don’t give a damn about anyone else, and neither do the people who sent me to Washington.
McCONNELL: That’s fair. After all, that’s really what the Republican Party is all about, right fellows?
BOEHNER: Surely you understand this, Paul.
RYAN: Understand what?
McCONNELL: That people, led by the incredibly ignorant news media, think the antagonism in Washington these days, and in the whole country, for that matter, is all about Republicans versus Democrats, liberals versus conservatives, and blue states versus red states.
BOEHNER: But it’s not.
RYAN: It’s not?
McCONNELL: Son, it has nothing to do with any of that. The difference between the parties is about how we treat privilege. Democrats are all about social and economic mobility and trying to give people opportunities to achieve and be upwardly mobile. Republicans think that’s a bunch of hogwash, that it’s in no way government’s responsibility either to give people bootstraps or help them learn how to raise themselves with them.
RYAN: We do?
McCONNELL: Of course we do. Our number one priority as Republicans is the protection of privilege. Think about it: damn near everything we do is about protecting the haves and keeping down the have-nots. That, above all else, is the foundation upon which today’s Republican Party is built. I know there are people out there who think it’s all about race, but it’s not, it’s about privilege. Our approach treats all of the have-nots the same, regardless of race. Hell, Rand and I represent Kentucky, and it doesn’t get any more trailer-trash than white Kentucky, right Rand?
PAUL: You’re telling me.
MCCONNELL: I am. Rand, you and Teddy here did a great job of riling up voters for us. We appreciate it and probably couldn’t have done it without you, but now that we’re in the majority in Congress, you’re of no value to us anymore. We want you silent and we want you invisible, and just so you know, anything you try to do will be squashed. We intend to treat you the same exact way we intend to treat Democrats. And Paul, you did a great job of fooling the American people into believing that Republicans are serious about public policy and serious about governing. “The party of ideas” (he laughs), that one gets me every time (he laughs again, and this time Boehner joins him). Listening to you has always made us cringe but we tolerated it, but now that we’re in power, your usefulness has come to an end and we don’t need to put up with you and your crap anymore.
(The door opens and six burly men, dressed as security guards, enter)
McCONNELL: Now these nice gentlemen, provided to us by Goldman Sachs in anticipation of our success in putting a muzzle on Elizabeth Warren, will escort the three of you out of here so John and I can continue to explore ways to embarrass the Kenyan and Democrats, and maybe Hillary, too, just for kicks and giggles, and ensure that the 114th Congress, under our leadership, achieves the true Republican objective of doing absolutely nothing other than protecting the privilege of those who’ve already attained such privilege. That’s what a free party like ours can bring to America because unlike the Democrats, we’ve kept ourselves independent of special interests.
(The guards approach Ryan, Paul, and Cruz, and the three politicians, seeing how seriously out-muscled they are, rise and leave without resisting – although Ryan, still a bit pumped from his latest P90X workout, briefly considers taking on the guards before thinking better of it.)
(As they are ushered out of the room, the waiter returns with a bottle of Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon and two champagne glasses)
MCCONNELL: Courtesy of Donald Trump, in the hope that we find time to continue to dog the Kenyan’s every step.
(The waiter pours for them)
McCONNELL: To the Donald!