[FADE IN: EXT. The roof of the White House. It is nighttime, and snow is falling. The camera slowly picks out a solitary figure standing disconsolately at the edge of the roof, staring down at the ground below.]
"Well, I guess this is it. It's just like my pop used to tell the servants, I'm nothing but a screw-up. My war didn't turn out the way it was supposed to, for some reason Osama never turned himself in the way I though he would if I just kept showing how resolute I am, I wasn't able to persuade the people of New Orleans to stop giving the almighty reasons to destroy their city before it was too late, and now my party has lost control of the Congress to the treason party. Soon they'll have a bunch of dumb ol' investigations and probably pardon Saddam so they can appoint him as special prosecutor. For somebody who's never made a mistake, I sure have gone and gummed things up. The only way I can save America is if my image as a martyr makes the voters feel bad about how they've done me wrong and sets them back on the straight and narrow. I guess I really am worth more dead than alive."
"So, as I was saying, I guess I'm worth more dead than alive. I guess the only way I can set things right is by dying. Yep, that's about the size of it."
[Much longer, awkward pause]
"...So....anyway, as I was saying...just to you know, really spell it out, I guess I ought to take my own life, jump off this roof here and commit suicide, even though it's a mortal sin, because I've really screwed things up somehow, and there's no use pretending I haven't. I don't really get it myself, but I keep hearing people say that I've made a mess of everything, and I don't care how tough and resolute you are, after a while, a fella's feelings do get hurt. It's not as if some angel has appeared to tell me that they're wrong and I'm right and I should stay the course. So, here we go."
"So, I'm looking at those two Marines down there, and if the one on the left rubs his nose before the other one does, I'll know that God is telling me to..."
"Oh, for Christ's sake!"
"Who said that!? Who else is up here? Are you my guardian angel?"
"Yeah, I'm your guardian angel. I'm here to help."
"Step out from behind that snowdrift so I can see you."
"I'm not behind this snow drift, I'm right in front of you. I'm just making it seem like this is where my voice is coming from because it's magic. Oooo-oooooh. But I'm right in front of you. You can't see me because the eyes of mortal man cannot bear such a sight. But you'll be able to see me when you're dead. Trust me, you'll get a kick out of it."
"Oh mighty angel, messenger of our Lord, have you come to show me how terrible things would be if I had never been born?"
"Honestly, George, it wouldn't have made a tit's worth of difference if you'd never been born. It's not like your parents didn't give us a pretty fair-sized potpourri to choose from. Now, if you're asking about your death, it would have been pretty ideal if you'd kicked off right after the 2004 election. We now know that's when people would finally be far away from 9/11 that they'd start actually demanding something in the way of governing competence from you. If you'd dropped dead right after re-election, or better yet, if you'd been killed in mysterious, possibly terrorist-enhanced circumstances, the sympathy probably would have carried us another two years, at least. You live and you learn."
"But now it's important that I stay alive so that I can continue to decide what's best for America?"
"Actually, George, we've been looking over the books and weighing various cost-benefit analyses, and we'd like for you to pitch yourself off the roof. I want you to back up a ways and get a decent running start, so that you'll be carried over the heads of the Marines down there, we don't want one of those guys breaking your fall, and then if you could be sure and aim yourself to your right, that's when Mickey's little hand is on the the three, okay? We want you to land on the concrete there where..."
"George? George, are you up here?"
"Jesus Christ, it's like the stateroom scene in A Night at the Opera..."
"Hey, Laura, I'm over here, talking to an angel."
"Oh, George! You said you'd stick to the nonalcoholic."
"I did, Honey! The angel's right here. He's so majestic you can't see him, but he says that I've never made any mistakes, and it's all the liberal media's fault for lying to people, but soon they'll see the light, and seven plagues will be visited on the evildoers, and that little Korean guy will crawl over here and beg to kiss my big toe, and everyone will come to the White House and apologize for ever having doubted me, and they'll start a volunteer squad to chip off the old faces on Mount Rushmore and replace them with me and Dick and Mom and Dad and I'll be magnanimous in triumph, though I will have the Clintons hanged on the White House lawn for being such hippies, and everyone will laugh and laugh and...Dick? Is that you?"
"Yeah. Yeah, it's me, Mr. President."
"You better come out from behind that snowdrift before you catch your death."
"Yeah, thanks, good idea. So, Mr. President--this business about how right you are and everything--that's what you got out of what the angel said to you?"
"He did word it a little differently. Luckily, a big part of being a great war president is knowing how to read between the lines."
"I don't know why I bother..."
"Man, I feel about a million times better! C'mon, Honey, let's go back inside and have some more of that egg nog. You coming, Dick?"
"No, Mr. President, I think I'm just going to stay up here for a while and try to remember where it all started to go wrong."
"Sounds like a plan. You stay warm now, you hear?"
[GEORGE and LAURA depart. DICK stands on the edge of the roof for several minutes, seemingly lost in thought. Suddenly, a hissing noise and the sound of chains rattling are heard, growily steadily louder.]
"Richard Cheney! My name is Jacob Marley. I have come to tell you that you will be visited by three ghosts..."
[Without looking at the GHOST, DICK reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a government contract conferring on the bearer exclusive rights to process water for use in Iraq. He hands it to the GHOST, who, pacified, exits, leaving DICK standing alone on the roof, a faraway look in his eyes...]
[Cross-posted at The Phil Nugent Experience]