"I'm the president's attorney. Let us in to see Attorney General Ashcroft."
"I'm sorry sir, visiting hours ended at 7:30", said the young Hospital administrator to Alberto Gonzales.
"Listen you nit. This is important national business." Gonzales said.
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card flashed an important looking badge; Gonzales showed his Subway frequent buyer card. An underpaid overtired hospital administrator let them through, even though Ashcroft's wife had banned all visitors, given the debilitating nature of his pancreatitis.
But first, the administrator asked them to help with Mr. Ashcroft's bill. "Mr. Ashcroft's insurer denied coverage of a portion of his treatment. They said he didn't need the second dose of anesthesia, and won't pay for it." Gonzales brushed him aside. He did not have time to waste with this minor bureaucratic nonsense when he was trying to get the Attorney General to approve the President's secret wiretapping scheme. Card re-holstered his gun, as if to drive home the point. Gonzales made a mental note to lobby the president for universal health coverage. If it could happen to a Republican like Ashcroft, it could happen to him.
As the duo walked down the hall toward Mr. Ashcroft's room, Card noticed Newt Gingrich in another room on the floor. He was holding a yellow legal pad, shaking it in front of his wife, who was lying in the bed, semi-conscious. The White House Musketeers stopped to watch.
Gingrich raised his voice: "Dammit Jackie, just sign the stinkin' paper. Four hundred a month, plus 40 bucks for child support for the girls is more than enough."
Intrigued, Gonzales watched, and made mental notes. "But Newtie, I still love you," slurred the soon to be ex-Mrs. Gingrich.
"Well if you love me, you'll sign this paper."
"But I can't even read it. I can barely see it."
"You don't need to; honey, it's all for the best."
After some more "sweet talking" Gingrich placed a pen in her hand, and she scribbled her name on the pad.
"Brilliant" thought Gonzales. He imposed upon Gingrich to come along and coach them when they got to Ashcroft's room.
In the next room, Dick Cheney was having his pacemaker repaired. Clearly a little loopy from his morphine drip, Cheney sang:
"When a man's an empty kettle
He should be on his mettle
And yet I'm torn apart
Just because I'm presumin'
That I could be kind-a human
If I only had a heart."
Gonzales decided to leave Cheney to his convalescence. Besides, Cheney is scary. Really scary.
Ashcroft's room was next. Ashcroft, like Newt's former ball and chain, was semi-conscious. "I wish they hadn't given him that second dose of anesthesia," said Card. "No," said Gingrich, that's the beauty of it, he doesn't know what he's doing." The laughing gas makes 'em real pliable.
As they turned into Ashcroft's room, Acting Attorney General James Comey and FBI director Robert Muller were already in there. Comey was feeding Ashcroft soup. "Come on John, open up. Here comes the choo-choo train." It was touching, really.
"Listen," said Card, "we need the Attorney General to sign off on the President's wiretapping plan. Al, why are we doing this?
Gonzales stuttered. "Uh, I don't recall."
Card replied, "you're not testifying before Congress, just tell me: what's the reason that we need to wiretap every American."
"So we won't have to fight the terrorists here?"
"That's the best you got?" Card wondered aloud.
FBI Chief Muller felt that the Attorney General, who was dribbling oatmeal down his shirt, was in no position to rule on the constitutionality of a substantial piece of legislation. Comey said he was acting Attorney General, and he was in charge. Besides, he did not want to let them take advantage of a very sick man. Card responded: "He's been here a week, that's plenty of time to recover. He had an appendectomy, not a lobotomy. His brain still works." He turned to Gonzales "write that down, and tell Tony Snow to use the bit about it "not being a lobotomy" if this ever gets out."
At that moment, Ashcroft himself spoke up. "I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. Antie Em, where are you? Antie Em?" Muller figured it out: "He thinks he's in Oz because the tin man down the hall keeps singing "If I only had a heart"
Undaunted, Gonzalez forged ahead. "Mr. Attorney General, the president needs you to approve the wiretapping plan."
Ashcroft paused, then his face turned angry. "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too." This went on for the better part of the next hour. Eventually, Card got Ashcroft to sign off on the wiretapping plan by threatening to do physical harm to Toto.
In a related Story, Press Secretary Tony Snow announced plans to anesthetize the entire Congress. "Too late," responded Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Most of the Democrats are already useless.
In another medical matter, the President underwent a colonoscopy last week. He was pronounced in perfect bowel health. Dick Cheney's watch was finally located.