Jesus came back, this time to Texas in the summer of 2000. He did not come back because the world, or the US for that matter, was in any kind of crisis. He came back because he was bored in heaven. A man (or a God, for that matter) can only take so much harp playing and hosannas and cloying followers prostrating themselves before him before he gets a notion (remember, I'm quoting Jesus here), to "Get the hell outta here." So he went to Austin, Texas, to just sit for a while, sip on a beer, take in some good country western music, and watch humanity.
Suffice it to say, watching humanity in a country western bar got pretty boring, and the music didn't help much either. So Jesus, remembering that he was the favorite political philosopher of George W. Bush, went to see the then-Governor, presenting himself, of course, as the Son of God. After repeatedly trying to see George W., pointing out again and again that he was Dubya's favorite political philosopher, Jesus was threatened with prosecution if he didn't stay away from the Governor's mansion. That's when Jesus very publicly declared that he would perform three miracles to establish his credibility. First, he made Texas the second largest state in the contiguous United States, after that bastion of liberalism, California. Second, he caused a jury in Texas, on the verge of sentencing a man with an IQ of 62 to lethal injection for murder, to reconsider and give him life in prison instead. Third, he caused the Texas legislature to legalize civil unions for gays in the Lone Star State.
George W. Bush was impressed, and a little scared. He knew that he was dealing with the real McCoy here, not some flake whose brain had been simmering too long in cheap Kentucky bourbon. He would have to meet with his advisors first, and then with the Son of God. He thought he'd give his dad a call, too, though he knew that as an Episcopalian, George Sr. wasn't saved. Still, the elder Bush knew how to handle world leaders.
George W. and his advisors immediately took Jesus' appearance as a sign that the LORD, that is, the one who's always capitalized in the Bible, sanctioned Compassionate Conservatism and was what Team Bush thought of as a counter to Al Gore's vision, which Al called Happy Go Lucky Liberalism. These two visions were in the ring taking swipes at each other, and George W. and his advisors reasoned that Jesus could deliver a KO for their team, though they wondered a little about Jesus' position on the death penalty. But they were pretty sure they could bring him over on that too, after a few beers and some talk at a good old-fashioned Texas barbecue. George Sr. would be there, too.
The barbecue, it turned out, was being held right outside some prison on the outskirts of Dallas. It was being held to celebrate the putting to death, through lethal injection, of a woman who killed her husband after he had repeatedly abused her over the years. George Jr., as a compassionate conservative, refused to issue a stay of execution, saying the law was the law, regardless of circumstances. He said he'd prayed on it for at least fifteen minutes and that he felt in his heart that he was doing the right thing. Jesus was gnawing on his barbecue ribs and trying to figure out how the governor could feel all right about the premeditated murder, by a judge and jury, of a human being. Jesus thought that logic, which he fairly quickly assessed wasn't the governor's strong point, argued against the position that two wrongs make a right. He explained: "If your son is hit on the playground, do you tell him to hit the kid back who attacked him as a way of resolving the disagreement?"
"You betcha, Lord. In Texas, we don't take no guff from anybody. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
"I should tell you, Governor, that Dad was drunk the day he said that. He and mom had just broken up--she having run off with to marry Zeus--and Dad was drinking too much and feeling kind of bitter at the time. That part about turning the other cheek, in Matthew 5: 38-39, was meant to overturn that. I thought that was fairly clear from the context: 'Ye have heard that it hath been said, AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: But whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.'"
"You mean God was an alcoholic at one point?" George had already forgotten the thread of their argument, bowled over as he was by this revelation.
"Well, who do you think inspired Bill Wilson to start up AA? Dad knew how to take care of this from personal experience. But back to our original argument about capital punishment. Why is it there are so many countries in the world that don't have capital punishment and yet have much lower crimes rates than the US? If this is supposed to be a deterrent to violent crime, it doesn't seem to be working too well."
"It deters the one executed," George came back. "And as you'll see in a few minutes, nothing deters a repeat offender like a dose of Pavulon and Potassium Chloride running through his or her veins. And it's a compassionate way to deter the killer, too, since it's such a gentle way to dispose of criminals." George smiled, thinking he had clinched the argument--had brought over the Son of God on this issue.
Jesus swallowed some pork and took a swig of his draft beer. "But isn't it often the case that people who die on death row only kill once? In fact, didn't the woman who's going to be put to death in a little while only kill once? What's she being deterred from, except living?"
George smirked: "Once a killer gets a taste for blood, he only wants more." This George knew from personal experience, having put to death more than 150 people while governor of Texas.
Sherry Lamner looked older than her fifty-four years. Like many on death row, she'd grown up in poverty, which abets the ageing process, while no doubt building character. She'd also lived in a co-dependent alcoholic relationship with her husband for twenty-five years, who, like her father before him, beat her regularly. One day in her mid-40s, Sherry decided to end her co-dependent relationship with her husband after an especially brutal beating. While her husband lay in a drunken stupor after the last beating, Sherry used the chain saw he'd threatened her with in the past and dismembered him in several places. Everyone was appalled by the messiness of the murder, especially the men on the jury that convicted her and recommended the death sentence.
And here she was, after running through years of appeals. She was strapped to the gurney now, as the medical personnel prepared to forget the part of the Hippocratic Oath they had taken awhile back. Jesus was there, too, wondering how humans could so easily kill one of their own; he was sad for his father's botched creation. He looked sadly over at George W., his student who had so assiduously studied his, Jesus', words. Wouldn't he be surprised at the results of his Final Exam, in the hereafter?
The murderers surrounding Sherry up righted her in the gurney so that she could say her last words. She spit in the direction of the Governor, Jesus, George Sr., and the other spectators, and said of her deceased husband, "If I'da had to do it over agin, I'd do it. Though this time I'd wake 'im up for it!" Before Sherry's attendants began the series of injections that would result in her premeditated murder, Jesus thought about stopping it, but he didn't. He knew she'd be happier where she was going.
Everyone, to their credit, looked somber, befitting the occasion, except for George Sr., who, never having been governor of a state, had never actually seen a live execution. As Sherry's breathing choked a little and the chemicals did their ghastly work, George Sr. began to blanch. He'd never seen anyone killed so efficiently and humanely before. He turned in the direction of Jesus, so as not to mess up his son's nice suit, and threw up.