I got a call from President-Elect Donald Trump the other day and he asked for a 'private audience' with me for all the fake news he said I've been writing about him.
"I tried to tweet you," Trump yelled. "Why don't you tweet. I sent you thirty or forty tweets on your Twitter handle."
"I don't open my Twitter account up much," I told him. "I don't mean to sound like an intellectual snob, Mr. President-Elect, but in my humble opinion tweeting is something that birds do."
"Well let me tell you something, Jackass, it's the way I've run my campaign and it's the way I intend to handle my Presidency."
"I've been writing for such a long time that writing in the small capsule of 140 characters or less is a curse. I have to have at least 3,000 words to say something totally mundane, banal, and stupid," I told Trump.
"I tell you what, I'll pay you $140,000 to sit down with me for a half an hour so I can chew you out for all this fake news you've been writing about me on those so-called, online, comedy magazines that you are associated with," he said.
"I could never accept that kind of money, Mr. President-Elect. I wouldn't know what to do with it all and I'd most likely kill myself having such a good time with that sort of cash. How's about sixty bucks?" I told him.
"Sixty bucks?! What in the hell is that?"
"That's my final offer," I insisted. "Take it or leave it."
"Well, okay, but if you think small, you'll be small. And you are a real lightweight. And you're a real loser."
"Yeah, that's what everyone tells me."
"Can you meet me at the Starbucks in Washington, D.C.? It's right around the corner from Trump Tower. Great cappuccino."
"Nope. No can do. You'll have to meet me at The Plastic Duck in downtown Detroit. That's where I go for my coffee. But I never drink coffee there. I drink other stuff."
"Well, I guess...."
"Make the sixty dollars out in a Western Union money order. And make sure you sign it," I said.
We agreed to meet on Tuesday at three in the afternoon. Trump showed up with a whole entourage of body guards and security officials. He was dressed in his famous suit - black, of course - his signature shining red tie, and that crimson ball cap perched over his head, covering those beady black eyes, with "Let's Make America Great Again" scrawled across it in white letters. Oh, and I think he was flipping around some breath mints.
"This place has a dirt floor," he snarled. "The Plastic Duck is a hell hole."
"Well, to many of us, it's home," I said.
I ordered a Rolling Rock and nodded at Trump. "Well, you're going to pay for it, right?" I said.
Trump threw a bill on the table and told the bartender to keep the change. I think the bill had Benjamin Franklin on it, but it could have been Mother Jones in her later years. The bartender looked down at the bill and his eyes lit up like he'd just scratched off a big winning state lottery ticket.
"So this fake news...Well, I'll tell you, Jackass and Hide, it's got to stop. Or I'm going to have Mad Dog waterboard you and throw you in Gitmo," he snarled.
"There's a little caveat under each and every story on most of the sites that use my stuff. It tells the reader the story is fictional, it has no real relevance or place in the real world, and it's been published for its comedic substance, but I doubt if many of the people are laughing about the stories that we've all been writing about you, Mr. President-Elect."
"I don't think they're funny. I don't think they're funny at all."
I guzzled down my Rolling Rock, slammed the bottom of the bottle on the bar, and nodded to the Bartender. He grabbed another from the cooler, the President-Elect threw down another greenback and this time it had some President on it that I'd never seen before. Meanwhile, twenty or so men in black stood around The Plastic Duck looking awkward and sort of silly. None of them had anything to drink, since I guess it was against their job manual to do so. A few of these secret agents were staring at a group in the back of the bar with interest.
"We're smoking marijuana. You guys want a hit?" a feminine voice cried.
"It's got to stop. It just has to, All this fake news has to go," Trump told me.
"No, it will never stop. What you need to do is turn the TV off when the nightly local news is over and out. Never watch Jimmy Kimmel. Ditto for all the rest. And actually, Donald, they don't hate you at all. They're just doing their jobs."
The President-Elect stared at me.
I continued, "Don't watch those late-night comics and whatever you do, don't watch Saturday Night Live. Turn in at midnight, at the latest. Turn your cell phone off and get some sleep. You've got to get some rest before the inauguration. You need to get at least a twenty minute nap or you'll be a mess and say a lot more crazy and reckless things. People will boo you, even Republicans."
Again, Trump looked at me with wide eyes and there were dark circles under them. They looked like craters on the moon.
"Don't tell me what to do. I'm the most powerful man in the world."
"That may be true, but you're probably the most sleep-deprived man in the world, too. And one of the most paranoid and delusional. You can't take satirists and comedians seriously, Mr. President-Elect. They cut on every public figure. They've been hacking on every politician that's ever achieved high office. Like I said, it's nothing personal, it's just their job. If you're a public figure, you're fair game. And right now, you're a bull elk in a field of mallard ducks and gophers. Everyone's shooting their comedy cannons your way."
"The fake news has to stop. CNN needs to be shut down."
"Now Mr. President, in the opinion of many, CNN is one of the best sources of news in the world. And the way you treated that nice reporter who was trying to ask you a question was deplorable. In the end, he looked good and you looked bad. You can't act that way. You just can't. CNN does a lot of fact-checking and even a lot of re-fact-checking before they have one of their pundits report on anything. Their news game is the refried beans of rhetoric at its finest. And they have something called The First Amendment in their back pocket. You'll just have to get used to being hammered by them. But look on the bright side, consider what Fox News did to Barack Obama. And even his wife and kids. It couldn't be that bad..."
"Fake news. Fake news. Fake news."
"This exchange isn't getting us anywhere," I said, and got up from my barstool. "Hey listen, just give me the money order and we'll shake hands and part as friends, okay?"
"You're not my friend. You've written some really terrible things about me.'
"It's nothing personal, Donald. I can call you, Donald, right Donald?"
"Sure, I guess so..."
"Donald, just wait until after January twenty-first. You haven't seen anything yet."
"Fake news. Fake news. Fake news. I'm going to get out my cell phone and tweet something about fake news now. Something bad. Something mean and sarcastic."
"Have fun, Big Dog. Hey, there's a cot in the back. Once you've finished your coffee, lie down and take a nap. You need it. Oh, and by the way, that coffee was brewed three days ago. It's probably pretty strong by now so even though you don't drink, you might want to down a few shots of Kentucky's finest before you get some shuteye. And talking to those people in the back might help, too. Take a few tokes on that smelly thing they're passing back and forth. You'll nod off in twenty seconds. Guaranteed."