Written by Ralph E. Shaffer
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Topics: White House

Monday, 15 May 2017

WASHINGTON, D. C. West Wing staffers and official visitors to the White House are wearing gas masks and overshoes as they valiantly attempt to carry on the business of government despite a horrendous odor emanating from a clogged sewer line. A back up system, an old cesspool, lived up to its name and really did "back up." President Trump's only comment so far came in an early-morning Tweet: "Nobody knew that sewage could be so complicated."

The White House first requested a team of EPA scientists to assess the problem, but discovered that they had all been dismissed the previous week. Los Angeles plumbing giant Mike Diamond - "I can clear any clog for $99" - was summoned by the Chief of Staff as the toxic fumes from the ancient cesspool continued to spread far beyond the presidential residence.

In response to a question from the Russian News Agency, TASS, Sean Spicer assured reporters that the problem would be solved within the Administration's first 100 days. Spicer abruptly left the news conference when reminded that the first 100 days were over. There is a growing consensus that the stench may remain until mid-January, 2021.

While the White House has had sewer connections with the rest of the city for nearly a century, the current problem began toward the end of January when a blockage occurred in the house's main sewer line. For temporary relief, sewage was diverted into the centuries-old cesspool. Almost immediately, the cesspool overflowed and contaminated the entire ground floor, filling the basement.

Global warming experts believe the reason for the cesspool's failure is rising sea levels and higher ground water, which inundated the holding area so that it was already full when the sewer line failed.

Rachel Maddow, on MSNBC, had another explanation for the overflow. She claimed that the president's effort to "drain the swamp" in Washington had simply moved the noxious stench from the capitol to the White House. "Where do you think all that putrid water from the swamp went? It found a welcoming home in the White House cesspool."

Residents and businesses near the White House note that the stink seems to worsen with each passing week. One complainant tweeted, "How long, O America, How long?"
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Ralph E. Shaffer is professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly Pomona. reshaffer@cpp.edu

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