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Posted:|| January 29, 2017 Views: 287|
Eavesdropping on a meeting in the Oval Office
by Mark Valentine
THE SCENE: A meeting in the Oval Office. The Chief of Staff is introducing the incoming president to an important person.
WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Mr. President, now that you’ve been sworn in and are officially our nation’s leader, it’s probably time that you met our friend here. Mr. President, I’d like to introduce you to Reality. Reality, meet the President.
REALITY: Hi, nice to meet you.
THE PRESIDENT: Wait, I thought we already met. I’ve been working with some guy named Reality for years.
WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No sir, that was Alternative Reality you’ve been dealing with. He’s nothing like this guy. In fact, in many ways, he’s the exact opposite of this guy.
THE PRESIDENT: But I liked that other guy. Why do I need a new guy?
WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: You’ve got sort of an important job now sir. Not like before. Now, somebody could get hurt if you mess up. Reality can help you succeed. Or, you know, at least not start World War III.
REALITY: I look forward to working with you. I think I can be of assistance in your new role.
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t need any assistance.
WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Mr. President, Reality’s main job will be to help you see things from his point of view, and, from his perspective – actually from the perspective of virtually every intelligent being on the planet - you need lots of help. Reality, why don’t you tell the President about Dunning and Kruger.
REALITY: Sure thing. Mr. President, have you ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect?
THE PRESIDENT: Is that a show on Fox?
REALITY: No sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Then, no, I haven’t heard of it.
REALITY: Dunning and Kruger were researchers at Cornell who found that incompetent people, and I’m afraid you fall into that category sir, tend to overrate their abilities. Their unrealistic self-evaluation increases their incompetence.
THE PRESIDENT: Wait, but I’m very smart. I have all the best words.
REALITY: No sir, actually you are extremely stupid and have a very limited vocabulary. As Dunning and Kruger point out, the fact that you think you’re smart only serves to exacerbate your stupidity.
THE PRESIDENT: Not true. I never exacerbate. Don’t need to. I have a beautiful wife – satisfies all of those needs - have you seen her?
REALITY: Yes, she’s very pretty. I think you’re proving my point, sir. You are, what we in the reality business call, a moron. Believe me, I’m an expert on these things.
THE PRESIDENT: I’d like a second opinion.
REALITY: OK, you’re also evil. We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s look at how stupid you are. See this chart here?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s got pictures.
REALITY: Yes, sir, we made it especially for you. Lots of pictures and no big words. This chart depicts the continuum of IQs among living things. Way up here at the top – see the pictures of Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein? - This is the very high end of the continuum.
THE PRESIDENT: Continuum - that’s a big word.
REALITY: It means range sir. You know, like how you rate woman from 1-10 according to how good looking they are?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh yeah – I’ve got a chart with pictures for that too. Hillary is way at the bottom. My daughter is on top.
REALITY: Creepy, but if it helps you understand the concept, then, yes, it’s like that chart. So here, at the top of the continuum - the “tens” shall we say - are Hawking and Einstein.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s where I’m at, right?
REALITY: Not so much, sir. Let’s keep going down the chart. Next, right underneath Hawking and Einstein - see the picture of the ivy covered walls? - Those are the nines. Very intelligent people; your brain surgeons, rocket scientists, Cub fans.
THE PRESIDENT: Am I there?
REALITY: We haven’t gotten to you yet, sir. It’s gonna take a little while. See this picture of a big crowd?
THE PRESIDENT: Like the one at my inauguration.
REALITY: Yes, like that, only with a lot of people. This spot on the continuum represents the middle of the bell curve - the majority of people. Folks with average intelligence.
THE PRESIDENT: I can’t be there.
REALITY: No, you certainly can’t. Let’s keep looking. Below that we have the stupid: your White Sox fans, Fox News anchors, the state of Indiana. And way down here, we have the nearly brain dead: this group includes most customer service representatives and the Portuguese.
THE PRESIDENT: Are you telling me I’m in that group?
REALITY: Would that it were so, sir. But we have to keep going down even further – down into the negative numbers where the subhuman creatures dwell. This level here is where we’ll find your more evolved primates, and other intelligent mammals such as porpoises.
(The President looks at Reality hopefully. Reality shakes his head “no”.)
Next we have your run-of-the-mill fauna.
THE PRESIDENT: Fawna Who? Fawna Hall? She was hot. Tried to date her once.
REALITY: Stay with me, Mr. President. Next we come to insects, then single-celled animals, then plants. And, here’s where your IQ places you on the chart sir. See this picture?
THE PRESIDENT: Lettuce?
REALITY: Specifically, romaine lettuce sir.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s the best kind of lettuce though, right?
REALITY: The very best sir – you should be very proud.
THE PRESIDENT: Excellent. Sean, tell the press that I’m the best lettuce!
REALITY: Congratulations, sir!
THE PRESIDENT: But wait. That means I’m not as smart as people.
REALITY: Or practically any other living things – yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: But what if I say that I am?
REALITY: Doesn’t make it true sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, but what if I say it very slowly and loudly, while making a circle with my thumb and index finger and moving my hand up and down.
REALITY: It would still be a lie sir.
THE PRESIDENT: So?
REALITY: Yes, sir. That brings us to the whole evil thing.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m evil?
REALITY: Yes, sir. Not Hitler evil, but definitely on the evil side of the good-evil continuum.
THE PRESIDENT: There’s that word again. Are you sure I’m evil? What if I say I’m good while doing that thing with my hand again?
REALITY: No, the hand thing wouldn’t work for that either. Sir, I’m afraid you’ve dedicated your entire life to amassing a personal fortune by ripping people off with casinos, phony universities, and contracts that you don’t honor. You use your wealth to buy gold things for your penthouse.
THE PRESIDENT: I have the very best penthouse. It’s yuuuge.
REALITY: Yes sir, it’s very nice.
THE PRESIDENT: The building has my name on it. Big letters. The biggest. I have lots of buildings. They all have my name on them.
REALITY: Yes, sir. I’ve seen them. Let’s keep going on the good-evil thing though. You have the sexual morals of Caligula.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s another type of lettuce, right?
REALITY: I believe you’re thinking of arugula, sir, which is kind of like lettuce, but it’s actually… never mind. The point is, throughout your entire life, you’ve shown no respect for women or the sanctity of marriage. Virtually every utterance that comes out of your mouth is a blatant lie. When someone produces incontrovertible evidence that you’re lying – and here’s where the stupidity comes in – you repeat the lie while doing that stupid thing with your hands. That doesn’t make it true.
THE PRESIDENT: But, I’m very rich.
REALITY: Yes you are, but you know that’s not the same thing as being good, right?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m confused.
REALITY: Being good has to do with spreading love, compassion, kindness – having integrity, caring for those less fortunate. Are any of these concepts ringing a bell sir?
THE PRESIDENT: (pauses while looking confused)
REALITY: Welcoming the stranger…? Caring for the sick…? Correcting injustices…? Any of this sounding familiar?
THE PRESIDENT: Did I mention I was rich? How can someone be rich if they’re not great?
REALITY: Well, sir, in spite of your wealth, you don’t pay taxes and give almost nothing to charity – in fact you set up a charity to solicit money from other people and then used some of the money to have a portrait of yourself painted.
THE PRESIDENT: It was a good portrait. Painted by the very best artist – the same guy that did the dogs playing poker – Do you know that one? In a museum somewhere I think. I know all about art.
REALITY: Back to the point sir. This evil thing? I think that, just for now, until you get clearer on the concept, you might want to avoid claiming to be Christian – it just exacerbates…I’m sorry…it just makes worse…the hypocrisy.
THE PRESIDENT: But I’m still great. Very, very, great. Bigly great. What about my health? Did you see that doctor’s note that said I would be the healthiest man ever to be elected president, and that all of my test results were positive and “astonishingly excellent”.
REALITY: Would that be that note that you wrote yourself, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s the one. But still, look at me. I’ve got a great body. Look at my hands. They’re not small. Do you want to see my…
REALITY: (interrupting) That won’t be necessary, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I was a great athlete back in the day. Could have played pro ball.
REALITY: Was that before or after your medical deferment for Viet Nam, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: The chicks all say I’ve got a great body. Did you hear the tape of that interview with my publicist, John Miller. Remember how he said that Madonna and a bunch of other women wanted to date me?
REALITY: Again, sir, that was you pretending to be a guy named John Miller.
THE PRESIDENT: What’s wrong with that? Somebody else might not have accurately communicated how desirable I was. The media all lie. Let me tell you. So sad. I would have won the popular vote, except for all of the people who voted illegally, and none of them voted for me. Not one. Plus I really didn’t try to win the popular vote. If I would have tried, I would have won. Also did you see the size of the crowd at my inauguration? Biggest gathering in human history. I’ve got the smartest cabinet ever.
REALITY: None of that is even remotely true, sir. We’ve got pictures and data to prove it.
THE PRESIDENT: SQUIRREL!
REALITY: Yes, sir. That’s a squirrel out in the Rose Garden. Very good. Let’s get back to our little chat though, shall we? Part of my job is to make sure you are aware of these things we like to call “facts”. They’re pretty important to most people.
THE PRESIDENT: Sean Hannity doesn’t think so.
REALITY: Remember the IQ chart, sir? Remember where Sean Hannity’s picture was?
THE PRESIDENT: Next to the block of cheese?
REALITY: The moldy cheese, yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: But he likes me!
REALITY: Yes, he does. A lot of other people don’t though. You’ve got the lowest approval ratings of any president coming into office ever.
THE PRESIDENT: (making a circle with his thumb and index finger, and slowly moving his hand up and down)
I ABSOLUTELY HAVE THE HIGHEST APPROVAL RATING OF ANY PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF…
REALITY: (interrupting) You’re doing it again, sir. Remember what we just said about the hand thing? The reality is, sir, that you are unpopular. Bigly unpopular.
THE PRESIDENT: Why is that?
REALITY: Because you’re a bigot, a misogynist, and a narcissist.
THE PRESIDENT: Are those good things?
REALITY: No, sir, they’re not. Luckily, I can help. Here, I have a gift for you.
THE PRESIDENT: Is it free? Do I have to pay taxes on it? How much can I sell it for? Can I have four of them?
REALITY: Sir, you’ll just need one. It’s a moral compass.
THE PRESIDENT: Sounds boring. Like the worst gift ever. I don’t know if I want it. Vladimir Putin once gave me a horse… and a prostitute. In fact, I think the prostitute was riding the horse if I remember correctly... She was. I have the best memory.
REALITY: The compass is made of gold, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: OOH, GIMME! (He grabs the compass)
REALITY: This will help you tell right from wrong sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Is it solid gold? That’s the best kind. I know all about gold. I’ll bet I’m the only one to have one of these.
REALITY: Actually sir, almost everybody has a moral compass.
THE PRESIDENT: But theirs aren’t gold, right?
REALITY: Correct, sir. In fact most people’s moral compasses are inside of them. They’re what we call consciences.
THE PRESIDENT: Consciences? I have those in my hotels. Very helpful. Neatly dressed too. They can help you find prostitutes in almost any town.
REALITY: Those are concierges, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: What’s the difference?
REALITY: Well, I guess a conscience is sort of like a concierge for the soul, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Soul?
REALITY: We’ve got a lot of work to do.
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