The Panel Debate

Funny story written by Ian Wolff

Friday, 9 November 2001

I was watching one of these CNN panel debates recently, which included the usual vast array of conflicting views and personalities, when it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps, just perhaps -- this is the very reason that the Big Entity upstairs decided to severely adjust our original biblical longevity rates.

Let's face it, seventy-two year old experts espousing their relatively outdated beliefs, is one thing, but to go any further down the food chain of history's experts, would not only make these debates far more annoying than they already are, but downright indecipherable as well.

"You can't invade Afghanistan without elephants!"

"Thank you, Hannibal," says the panel's moderator.

"And limes to prevent scurvy," adds Columbus.

"You're all crazy!" shouts Sir Reginald Moore, president of The Flat Earth Society. "They'll fall off before they get there!"

The moderator turns to Colin Powell. "Mr. Powell?"

Powell, momentarily stunned, quickly snaps out of his stupor, clears his throat and pulls his microphone close.

"With all due respect to Mr. Hannibal," he begins. "I don't think, and keep in mind that this might very well be an oversight on our part. But I don't think, at this particular point in time, at any rate -- that we have any contingency plans that would include the utilization of pachyderms."

Several panel members moan in unison.

"What have you been doing?" asks Hannibal. "Sleeping at the wheel?"

"I suppose," says General Robert E. Lee, while rising and affecting a defiant pose. "That the good gentleman would simply have us fly over the Afghan mountains, like birds."

The panel explodes with mocking laughter. "Well, actually," says Powell. "That's the general idea."

"I knew it!" shouts the honorable Rev. Aloysius Pluxburry, of Salem Massachusetts. "He's a witch!"

"Burn him!" several members bellow.

The moderator bangs his gavel on the podium.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen," he pleads. "Let's not forget why we're here."

"I was forced to eat bugs," says retired Air Force pilot, Scott O'Grady, causing

the entire assembly to roll its collective eyes.

"We know, we know," they mumble.

"There are Papuan tribes as yet undiscovered, who know," says the moderator. "But thank you, Mr. O'Grady, and please try and get through this without crying."

"And I drank rainwater," adds O'Grady, before crumbling to the floor as the result of a Dick Cheney shot to his ribcage.

"No offense, Red Baron," says Cheney, while helping the grimacing O'Grady back into his seat. "But if I hear that story one more time, I'm going to shove my Medic Alert badge up your ejection seat."

Douglas McArthur leaps to his feet. "I shall return!" he booms.

"You haven't been there yet," says Truman. "Now shut up and sit down before I fire your ass, again."

The moderator bangs his gavel once again. "Gentlemen, please" he implores. "The question before us is how to defeat terrorism."

"We'll make spears," says William Wallace. "Twice as long as a man."

"Who's he?" whispers Hannibal.

"Some Scottish guy," replies McArthur.

"That's odd," says Hannibal. "Sounds Australian."

"Must be a witch," says Rev. Pluxburry. "They speak in many tongues."

The moderator, noticing that Jesse Jackson has risen to speak, motions for silence.

"The beast does hide in the land called Afghanistan," begins Jackson, before suddenly stopping abruptly.

The moderator, sensing Mr. Jackson's current predicament, queries the panel for assistance.

"Quickly gentleman," he says. "What rhymes with Afghanistan?"

"Green eggs and ham?" offers Truman.

"Sam I am?" says Gandhi.

"Enough of this insanity!" booms Admiral Horatio Nelson. "Our citizens are demanding swift retribution, and given this, I put it to you, gentlemen, that should you see fit to provide me with three ships and enough provisions for a crew of two-hundred, I will land upon the shores of Afghanistan no later than thirty-years from this very day."

Once again, the room explodes with mocking laughter.

"Impetuous braggadocio!" yells Napoleon.

"Not even with limes," laughs Columbus.

"I can be there within seventy-two hours," says George Patton, causing several to launch into uninhibited hysterics.

"It's all so sad," whimpers O'Grady, who is subsequently slapped in the face by Patton.

The overtaxed moderator, unable to regain control of the panel, opts for a commercial break.

The screen fades to black and is quickly replaced by a large bucket of oddly colored and severely congealed blood.

"Please pay close attention to the following," says the narrator. "If you believe that you or a loved one may have been subjected to the misguided medical practice of blooding, during The Black Plague years of 1347 to 1350, you owe it to yourself to contact the law offices of Tunney, Webster and Crow. We're here for you.

Once again, if you or a loved one were blooded, ritualistically tortured under the guise of a religious cure, stoned, burned at the stake, or forced to lance the oozing sores of your betters without the benefit of disinfectants.

Please visit any one of our many offices immediately. Unless you happen to be oozing, that is, in which case a simple phone-call will suffice."

The commercial ends and is rapidly replaced by a shot of Scott O'Grady and Colin Powell, who at wits end, is now seated with his face buried deeply in his palms. The two men are sitting entirely alone, surrounded by discarded notes, empty Styrofoam cups and assorted molding cheeses.

"The ants tasted hot," says O'Grady. "But there was nothing else to eat, so I had to make due with what- The FBI is currently examining the footage of the debate room's overhead camera.

"We have yet to find a body," said FBI spokesman, Robert Farwell, during the following day's press briefing. "But at this particular time," he added. "We have yet to rule out Mr. Powell as a possible suspect in Scott's disappearance."

The funny story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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