Washington, DC - The request was innocent enough. Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) asked president Barack Obama if he could borrow $20 to pay for his lunch in the Congressional cafeteria.
But when the president handed over the cash, all hell broke loose. The doors to the Capitol automatically slammed shut, sirens and warning buzzers sounded, and the Secret Service whisked the president back to the White House.
"That $20 the president loaned me for lunch sent the federal deficit of $14.3 trillion over the legal limit by $13.54," Boehner said. "And the government automatically shut down."
Obama and Boehner had been trying to iron out a compromise plan which would have raised the debt ceiling. Now they will have to spend their time dealing with literally dozens of safeguards, slapdowns and stopgaps that went into effect when the borrowing barrier was breached. Among them:
• Every major collection agency in the world will be calling Congress, night and day, asking for a payment on the national debt, and threatening the lawmakers with bodily harm.
• All congressional and presidential credit cards will be cut up and deposited in a large jar, which will be placed on the Capitol's mantle with a sign that demands: "What's in your wallet?"
• The Obama's will be required by law to conduct a yard sale on the front lawn of the White House on the second weekend of every month. Their bowling trophies will not be eligible for trade or purchase.
• All congressional and presidential vehicles will be repossessed. Congressman and their staffs will be encouraged to take public transportation, which will be shut down for the duration of the crisis.
• Everyone who works for the federal government will have to go out and get a second job to pay for basics like clean water in Washington's many reflecting pools, interest payments to Chinese bond holders, and rides for astronauts aboard Russia's Soyuz capsules.
• AARP will automatically institute its "Older Fingers Are Itchy Fingers" program when Social Security payments are not met. The initiative involves arming everyone over the age of 55 with a vintage M-16 carbine and directing them to their nearest bank for a "senior moment withdrawal."
"All this has been triggered by a sandwich," Pres. Obama said. "If I had known he was ordering a pastrami on whole wheat with mayonnaise and American cheese, I never would've loaned him the money. Who eats like that?"