Bourbon and Branch Water with Governor Rick
by Phillip Mayall
I had lunch with Texas Governor Rick Perry yesterday. I arrived at the Governor’s Mansion and was escorted to the Armadillo Room as Governor Rick (as I call him) was stepping out of his personal tanning bed.
I couldn’t help but notice that Governor Rick had left the ‘Little Governor’ (as he referred to his nether portions) unprotected from the ultraviolet rays. “Jeez Rick, are you supposed to tan those parts too? You don’t want to get skin cancer down there.”
“With these damn PaperNazis (As Governor Rick referred to the Paparazzi) running loose you don’t want to leave anything underexposed; look what happened to that Weiner in New York.”
I thought about explaining that Anthony Weiner was not so much a victim of the PaperNazis but Hubris, but that seemed like a long walk on a small beach.
We moved on from the tanning room to the private club where the movers and shakers of Texas politics could gather in private to discuss with candor their real concerns without fear of being quoted either in or out of context. After receiving our customary Bourbon and Branch water without being asked Governor Rick furrowed his generously proportioned brow and began to sidle up to the real reason for our meeting.
“You been readin’ the damn papers lately?”
“Yeah, I usually read two or three every day; and watch CNN.”
“I hate them pinheads.”
“Well, Governor Rick, it’s always good to know what the enemy is up to.”
“I know. You hear about my trip to Illi-noise?”
“You mean the one where you told the business leaders they should move to Texas where the climate was a little more friendly to business? Yeah, I heard about it; I was in Illinois at the time and it was on the local news. They didn’t seem to be taking it too seriously.”
“Well you know, then that damn fertilizer plant blew up over in West Texas and those damn CNN types tried to make a big deal out of it, trying to make it sound worse than it was.”
“Well c’mon Governor Rick, you know it was pretty bad.”
“Well, yeah, I guess.”
“And you now you’re damn lucky that Boston Marathon thing came up when it did or West Texas would have been the lead story that week.”
“Yeah, I guess I owe the damn Chetchins a thank you card.”
I sensed that we still hadn’t gotten to the meat of the matter. “So what’s buggin’ you Governor Rick?”
“Well, there’s some Sumbitches in California printed up a cartoon saying “Rick Perry says business is booming in Texas” and then a pitcher of a big esplosion. Well that pissed me off no end and I demanded an apology, I said they was pokin’ fun at dead people. Then they said no they wasn’t and that I should apologize to the dead people; and now my advisers tell me I’ve got my dick in the ringer and need to do something about it. I said “How’s about I tell ‘em all to go F&@K themselves and they suggested I look for another option and that’s why I called you. You know I don’t trust any of those sonsabitches, but I trust you. What do you think I should do?”
I should probably explain that Governor Rick and I go way back, back to the days when driving under the influence was more of an inconvenience than a serious legal matter, back when a few weekends in a counseling group could make the whole problem go away. We attended these court mandated weekend hyukfests for six weeks together and shared our motor vehicle high-jinks with other lovable losers who thought there was nothing funnier than line like “I never knew a damn light pole could move that fast.”
And after class nothing seemed more natural than going out for a quick toot to settle our nerves and sure enough one thing led to another and before you knew it one had stretched into several and several into several more and some bartender was telling us we didn’t have to go home but we couldn’t stay there.
Governor Rick and I got to be buddies. We didn’t really have much in common politically or intellectually but we were both interested in politics and what works and what doesn’t. Governor Rick’s interest was grounded in the practical and mine in the theoretical, his reflecting the prevailing values of Texas and mine of California, but Chess-Masters study the moves of both the red and the black and we did the same with politics, usually disagreeing on the values behind the moves but agreeing on which moves would be effective. The fact that I had no dog in the fight (meaning no personal political aspirations) made me a more trustworthy adviser than the rest of the political animals with whom he dealt. Governor Rick did pretty well right up to the 2012 Presidential Primary and even there he had some serious competition for who would be the biggest buffoon.
The governor continued,”I think things is worser now that they was before, folks is laughin’ at me, not jis to my face but behind my back too.”
I let that one go. “Well, you did kind of ask for it Governor Rick. If you hadn’t demanded that apology hardly anybody would have noticed that cartoon about “Business is Booming.”
“Yeah, you’re right, I got a mouth as big as Texas and sometimes it goes off half-cocked.”
I could see Governor Rick was on the verge of a deep dark bout of morose self pity and did my best to help him avoid that looming chasm of despair.
“Governor Rick, I think you have a golden opportunity here to turn a Negative into a Positive.”
“Turn a Negative into a Positive” he repeated.
“A Negative into a Positive?” this time there seemed to be a question mark at the end.
“Yes, youbetcha, yessir.”
“A Negative? You mean that thing like they make a pitcher from?”
“No, Governor Rick, I mean the other thing where you turn a bad thing into a good thing.”
Governor Rick furrowed his brow again and then the light seemed to break through. “You mean like when a Hooker tells you she’s got the clap and you chew her down and get a discount? Like when you wreck your car and they give you a newer one? Like when your dog gets runned over and you meet a cool lookin’ chick who was drivin’ and she says she’d do ANYTHING to make it up to you?”
“Yeah, kind of like those things Governor Rick. I was thinking like when a televangelist gets caught buying a mansion in the Bahamas with the money that was supposed to go to the orphans in Botswana and he goes on the air and confesses and asks for forgiveness and promises to do better in the future and the contributions spike.”
“I don’t know any orphans” Rick said.
I realized I was going a little too fast and made Governor Rick an offer. “Governor Rick, I think you need to make a speech; let me work on this tonight and we’ll get together tomorrow and plot a new trajectory for your political career.”
“So do we need an orphan?”
“No, Governor Rick, we won’t need an orphan this time.”
We got together the next day and got right to work. “Okay Governor Rick let’s look at a little history and set out sights on predicting what it would take to avoid re-enacting the mistakes of the past.”
“Sounds like a winner” the Governor replied.
“Okay, your party didn’t do well in the last election.”
“No, we got our damn asses kicked.”
“And why was that”
“I dunno, voter fraud? Too many Messikins voting too many times?”
“No. Let’s look at how your party is perceived and how that matches up with the shifting demographics of the United states.”
“You, that is, the Republican Party, is perceived as the party of 75 year old heartless homophobic racist billionaires who would take the baby formula from a baby in order to give a bigger tax break to a multi-national corporation that has shipped jobs overseas and profited from an unjustified war that’s cost untold thousands of lives.”
“Well that seems a little harsh.”
“But that’s the perception. The problem is there aren’t enough 75 year old billionaires to carry an election, your tent is too small.”
“Your base, the group of people who identify with you and feel you represent their interests.”
“And that’s why you need to reinvent yourself.”
“Hey, you ever watch that ‘Celebrity Makeover’ show? That’s one of my favorites,”
“Stay with me here Rick. This can be the beginning of something really big, this can be your Makeover, this can be the re-invention of the Republican Party, this can be your ticket to the White House.”
“She-it.” Governor Rick looked transfixed. “the one in Woarshington?”
“That’s the one baby.”
“Well Hell’s Bells, sign me up!”
Now came the hard part. “Okay, the first thing you have to do is get this “Business is Booming” thing behind you; you need a Mea Culpa.”
“A May-a Who-a?”
“You need to apologize, you need to tell people you’re sorry, you need to seek forgiveness.”
“I’m not really into apologizing,” Governor Rick said. “I think it’s kind of, you know, sissy.”
“Governor Rick you’re going to have to leave that kind of thinking behind, remember that Televangelist...”
“That’s the one. Governor Rick I’ve got a speech here for you, this is the first step your way to Pennsylvania Avenue.” I knew it was a mistake as the words left my mouth.
“To where?” Governor Rick started to pull up a map on his cell phone.
“To becoming the President of the United States.”
“Do I get Botox?”
“With the Makeover?”
“If that’s what you want.” I presented the Governor with the speech I had prepared for him. It went like this:
“Fellow Texans and Fellow Americans I humbly beg your forgiveness. I beg your forgiveness for my selfish arrogant cruel and insensitive policies that have directly contributed to this tragedy in West Texas.
I apologize for all the times I have ridiculed the idea of government being involved in people’s lives. This is clearly one of those times when government should have been there, should have stood between greed and the public well being.
I apologize for putting the interests and agendas of Big Business Campaign contributors ahead of public safety.
I apologize for being an ignorant fatuous turd who has put my own self-aggrandizement above all else.
It is going to be difficult for me, in light of my many years of contrary behavior, but I am going to try with all my heart to finally begin to consider and represent the interests of the people whom I have ignored and betrayed. It is going to be a long hard road, but with your support and understanding, I, and goodness. will prevail.”
I watched Governor Rick’s lips moving slowly as he read through it; I took the opportunity to reply to a few messages on my ipad and update my facebook page.
When he finished I could see that he was not happy.
“Do we really need ‘turd’ in there? After all, I am the damn Governor for Pete’s sake.”
“I thought about that, I labored over it, but I really could not summon forth another word that distilled your essence any more clearly; and I think it makes the whole thing more believable, after all, only the truly contrite would refer to himself as a turd.”
He thought about that awhile and made a clucking noise with his mouth.
I reached out and laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder. I knew this wouldn’t be easy for him. “It’s bitter medicine, but I want you to look ahead with me to what the reaction will be. First your peers, the Bobby Jindals and Jeb bush’s will renounce you and say you’ve lost your cotton pickin’ mind, then Fox news will imply that mental illness runs in your family and then folks will pause and a new interpretation will evolve; CNN contributors will reluctantly acknowledge that it took tremendous courage for you to sever your ties with the Big Money machine. Then you come out with statements reassessing your positions on Gay Rights and Immigration reform; you say nice things about a Safety Net and ‘you’re darn right we need affordable health care’ and ‘I don’t know about you but I never seen a Doctor driving an old car’ and ‘your darn tootin’ billionaires can afford to pay their share’ and before you now it TIME magazine is running a cover with Governor Rick’s mug bigger than life and a title like ‘The New Populist?’ and folks on “Face The Nation” will say maybe this is the rebirth of the Republican party and you will be the flag-bearer, the Golden Boy who got it all started, that’s what I’m talkin’ about.”
Governor Rick still wasn’t convinced. That ‘Turd’ thing stuck in his craw.
“I don’t know” he said.
“I understand, it’s a big decision.”
Governor Rick furrowed his brow again like he does when he is trying to give the impression that he is weighing weighty matters.
“I still think I might get the Botox” he said.
“Reinvention has to start somewhere Governor Rick, it might as well be there.”