It's money that matters.
-- Randy Newman
A door opens to the Oval Office at the White House in early February of 2013. President Romney is talking with members of his inner circle.
An exasperated Vice President Paul is trying to make a point, his pasty expression growing three shades darker -- all the way to just pale -- as he fights to have his voice heard.
"Mitt, you've got to reconsider a bunch of these laws you're trying to push through Congress: the Coat-and-Tie at Dinner Act, the Polo Pony Protection Amendment, the Two-Yachts Tax Break ..." the vice president says. "Do you really want any of that legislation to kick off your presidency? Those com'inists at CNN and in the liberal media will crucify you."
"Ron, Ron, relax," the president says. "Don't you agree that some of the problems in our country today has to do with the riffraff -- you know, those people who actually get their hands dirty when they work and the people who, at the risk of being insensitive, aren't white -- that has eradicated the niceties that once defined our nation? I personally believe America is ready to get back to those more civilized days when a man's worth was determined by his acquisitions and the number of servants he owned ... er, employed.
"I'm going to have to put my foot down here. These legislative gems are not optional."
An exasperated Paul mutters under his breath, then tries a new direction.
"What about that jobs bill you and Secretary of Labor Bachman are proposing?" the VP asks. "Do you really think Americans who are out of work are going to want to be offered up as bid items on the Buy an Out-of-Work Slave proposal? I mean, don't you think the term 'slave' might present a problem?"
The new president smiles at Secretary of War McCain, who can barely contain his impatience as he listens to the vice president.
"Look, Ron, this is a simple supply-and-demand issue," President Romney says. "Real Americans -- the ones who've put their millions into off-shore tax shelters ... you know, the ones of us who pay a 15 percent tax rate (there's laughter all around) -- need to be able to count on getting some good out of these unwashed who lose their jobs just because some good businessman bought the company they worked for for pennies on the dollar and then sold off its assets.
"If they allow themselves to be bought as slaves -- and, OK, they can call themselves 'laborers' or 'servants' if they're sensitive -- decent people won't have to worry about running into them when they're driving to one of their sumptious parties on their yachts. At least if these cretins do what their owners say, they'll be given hand-me-down clothing and fed leftovers. It will be the law. Everyone wins."
"How much longer do we have to listen to this whining?" Secretary McCain interrupts, a contemptuous snarl on his face. "We have serious matters to deal with here."
The president raises his hands to restore order.
"I know you're anxious to discuss our 'annexation' plans in the Middle East, South America and points south, John," Romney says, throwing his War chief a wink. "Certainly every American capitalist understands that it is our divine right to take any commodity that we think will make us more comfortable ... up to and including staking our claim to all that snow at the South Pole.
"Who knows, we may need it to keep our drinks cold soon."
Again laughter erupts around the room.
Secretary of State Pawlenty, who has been quiet during most of the meeting, moves quickly to get the president's attention before the laughter subsides.
"I know the -- ahem -- 'mergers and acquisitions' (this provokes another round of laughter) you, Secretary McCain and Mr. Brown from Bain Capital need to discuss are important, but I think we must look at this other point that's stirring up those jackals in the media," Pawlenty says. "It's that thing they're snidely referring to as the 'Joseph Smith Amendment,' the thing someone leaked to the Washington Post.
"You've made it clear where you stand, but this one's probably going to be a hard sell in the heartland."
The room grows quiet as everyone waits for President Romney's response. He leans back in his chair and brings his hands together in front of him, as if in prayer.
"You know, Tim, there are some things that are just bigger than individuals or groups of individuals," the president says. "Sometimes you have to educate the public. I think, in time, they'll come to look on their two-year mission trips as adventures and will enjoy them.
"As for that other matter ... Well, I've got my press staff working with all the major TV networks as we speak. I think with a little prodding -- a little of what my buddies and me like to call the 'Bain Train' -- we're going to be able to convince them to start running those back episodes of 'Big Love' in primetime. You have to start somewhere, and that Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin and Amanda Seyfried can be quite convincing gals if we get them on our side."
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.