Behold the Lord High Executioner!
A personage of noble rank and title–
A dignified and potent officer,
Whose functions are particularly vital!
Defer, defer, to the Lord High Executioner!
–Gilbert and Sullivan, The Mikado
Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, can’t hold a candle to G.W.B., who’s got more than 150 notches on his belt and who, when he’s not giving the guy strapped to the table in the death room life’s last big needle-stick, likes to bestow nicknames on those who pass his way. So it was the other day that Ko-Ko Bush stuck his finest ceremonial comb in his hair, put on his Sunday-go-to-meeting kimono and–braced by his first federal kill, that of the homicidal maniac McVeigh–roared off into the East to explain faith-based killing to an agnostic Europe. Never underestimate a man who gets to be President, but his European trip did leave the impression that Ko-Ko isn’t big enough to fill the Presidential kimono. In Göteborg, National Public Radio reported, hundreds of Swedes dropped trou, pirouetted on their heels and mooned Ko-Ko–something they would never have done to Ronald Reagan, a President as much given as Ko-Ko to lines like Mr. Bush’s declaration that “We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease.”
His enemies sometimes tried to wisecrack Mr. Reagan into the funny papers, but the joke was always on them. Mr. Reagan could put the fear of God into people, but more often he inspired them. He had goals and he had policy; he knew where he wanted to take his own country and the world. The Lord High Executioner from Texas doesn’t have the whatever to give people goose flesh. Around the world, his best-known accomplishment–the Florida theft aside–is the men whom he has allowed to go to the gallows. The $300 tax rebate may or may not be a big item here, but once you get on the far side of the three-mile limit, Ko-Ko has given the world nothing else to associate with his name, except perhaps his crypto-isolationism–that vision of Bunker America, self-sufficient and protected by his missile-defense shield, which doesn’t exist and won’t for many years, if it ever does at all.
The L.H.E. has no program and no plan. Despite this fact, he went flying off to Europe, where he (or his advisers) knew that he would come face-to-face with his renunciation of the Kyoto accord, with nothing to say except to repeat that the U.S. is a democracy and Europe is a democracy and we share values and are best buddies. “We don’t agree on the Kyoto Treaty, but we do agree that climate change is a serious issue and we must work together,” he said to the world, you betcha. What is more, “I say loud and clear that our nation is willing to lead on this issue.” What’s that guff supposed to mean? Ko-Ko is one of those guys who thinks he’s saying something if he utters words like “leadership,” “vision,” “charisma” and “values” (either “democratic” or “family”). But give Ko-Ko his due: He has taken some important energy-saving steps. The resource-wasteful electric chair is out; the lethal-hemlock injection is in. It enables environmentally sensitive heads of government to kill with renewable resources. That’s why Socrates had no objections when they made him drink a cup of the stuff. They call it “Green Death,” and Ko-Ko’s all for it. And those snide liberals say he doesn’t care.
Still, what’s his program, his plan? What is his plan to develop a plan? To date, it consists of Spencer Abraham, his Secretary of Energy, escorting groups of fervent believers into the departmental basement to kneel in front of the administration’s secret research-and-development project, code-named “Light of the World.” The object of veneration is a 15-foot-high light bulb, the principal apparatus of an experiment to see if the power of prayer can supply the juice to illuminate the Giant Mazda. Karl Rove, the assistant Lord High Executioner for political affairs, has already written Ko-Ko’s speech, waiting only for that first, faint glow of the Giant Mazda’s filament, glorying in the incontrovertible truth that faith power is renewable and even greener than windmills, which have been known to slice up an occasional low-flying bird.
A White House faction led by Dick Cheney is dead-set against the experiment. A faith-based energy program circumvents the market mechanisms that keep supply in balance with demand. It would be the equivalent of consumer price caps on electricity, which encourage people to use power without regard to what it costs to make and distribute. The Ko-Ko-Rove faction is saying not to worry, to which the Cheney faction answers that nothing is free, or it shouldn’t be if you expect people to use it properly. Fifty years ago, they said atomic energy was going to be so cheap that it would cost more to meter it than to give it away–and then people complained when they got their electric bills. If prayer was like radio frequencies–something the government could auction off as it does now, so that every corporation has an equal chance–you might be able to line up the public-utilities industry behind faith-based electricity. But if prayer is going to be free, like air–well, of course people will pollute it. They’ll pray to get laid or to win the Lotto or stuff like that, and then it won’t be worth a gol’darn anyhow.
There will be the devil to pay for this, the Cheneyites keep saying–and, and, and what about the hundreds of billions in investment money tied up in plants, oil rigs, pipelines and refineries? Faith-based power would make them worthless in an hour. But not to worry; Trent Lott has brokered a compromise. The administration will slap a top-secret classification on what’s going on in Spencer Abraham’s basement–did you know he’s an Arab?–and we will drill, pump and blow the tops off mountains to get the coal, to suck every pocket of oil dry. We will roll into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ransack the whole earth for every last lump and drop; we will drive bigger cars, set the thermostats five degrees lower in the summer and 10 degrees higher in the winter, until we’ve used it all up, every last teacup of hydrocarbon, and gotten every last dime of profit–and then, but only then, when the people are shivering and broiling and the offices are closed, only then will Ko-Ko unlock the door to Spencer’s basement and disclose to a power-starved planet the holy rollers and furious fundamentalists of all faiths on their knees encircling the Giant Mazda, which, if it is not exactly shining forth in traditional beacon fashion, will definitely–yes, I can see it–glow when viewed from certain angles.
That’s the Bush plan: go full-bore, pedal-to-the-metal growth … get bigger, make more, ramp up production, slap that baby into high gear, make the engines roar and repeal the speed limits. We’re not gonna run out of
So now you understand why Ko-Ko has to have that missile-defense shield. If one of those rogue states tries to punch a hole in the American dome, or if they let another one of those crazy-sonofabitch McVeigh types out of the Army, Ko-Ko has a song for them:
As some day it may happen that a culprit must be found,
I’ve got a little list–I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed–who never would be missed!
Yes, that’s right–underground without a coffin. Don’t cremate ’em or nothing. Leave ’em there long enough, and the worst of ’em, rapists or what-have-you, are just one more renewable resource to help the farmers grow another gallon of ethanol.