[Continued from Notes from the Giant Squid: Concerning the Governance of These United States, A Primer (pt. 1), PMjA Issue #228]
"Let's say you needed to make a law, and—"
"I do need to make of the Laws!"
And so I did make to explain to my Cabineterro Numero Uño my trials and tribulations of campaigneering. Oft it is said that the monies do come with strings attached, and much as George Double-Yew himself, when president, was obliged to tow the cows and cower at the toes of the specialized interests and desires of those who had supported his campaign fiscally (Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big War Machine, Big Dick: I do indicate you, mock-eyebrow superciliously raised), I too disclosed that I found myself in a similar predicament: on our long walk North following our failed attempt to participate in the Pre-Presidential Debatables in the Corralled Gables of Florid Land, my velocitating exo-suit did experience a technical malfunction, and we were forced to warehouse the suit, myself still contained within, in the garage workshop of an autokineticon mechanic. This was in the Western Virginia—which is cryptically located somewhat north of the Conventional Virginia; O Foundling Fathers, why must you be so puzzlesome?— and, as such, my cellular spread-spectrum transceiver was service less. We were obliged to avail ourselves of the services of a traditional coin-operated Bell telephone, and I lacked of the coins.
I lacked of the coins, and Rob did possess them. He laughed rustily, leaning against the telephone's fortressy carapace, bent double and still cradling his much chafféd male member.
"I've got the change," he coughed, "And you don't, you fucking alien freak."
"Give of me the change, Rob, and I shall call Devo, and he shall come with a new truck and we shall both go home, where you can acquire medical attentions for your lacerated genitals."
Rob budged not.
"I will even reimburse the cost of a legitimate man-doctor," I offered, dangling the tender morsel afore his eyes like and unto an angler fish, angling, "Not the large animal veterinarian, Rob, but a legitimate human doctor. With a degree. With a degree in urology."
"Fuck you," he wept, "I'm sick of your crazy crap and I hurt all over. I hurt in my soul. And my fucking cock is, like, torn off."
"Give me the change, Rob!"
"Change comes from within, motherfucker!" he shouted, his mouth a-string with mucous. I then did loose the temper and lashed at him; Rob, despite his abused genitalia, danced clumsily away from my lashing, razored leg, collapsing on the floor. Normally in such a term, the battle would certainly have been mine, but the alarming rate of critical failure in my servo-motors left me largely immobiled, and I could drag myself no closer.
Rob laughed, then vomited, then groaned, then laughed more, and lustfully.
"End game, fucksack," he gasped.
George Double-Yew interrupted my narrative at this point, "You wanna make a law about there bein' more cellphone towers?" he asked, squinching his face adorably.
"No. In exchange for his three quarter-dollars, eight Jefferson nipples and single dimé, Rob extracted a sinister promise. There was also a beer bottling cap and a small white button, but neither proved capable of entering the phone fortress."
"Ohhhh," the Ex-President said sagely, nodding of his head. "A promise to make more cell towers? 'cause West Virginia could use that, and it would make that ole Devil Byrdie happy as a clam."
"Clams are not happy," I opined. "There lot is nought but for suffering. Carpenters, walruses, and a life entirely limited to the cogito; envy them not, George Double-Yew."
He squinted again, running a palm across the rasp of his under-shaven cheek. "Aren't those oysters in that poem? Oysters, not clams, with the walrus and carpenter—"
"The matter is not of the cellular phone towers, nor of the clamhappy Byrds. My promise to Rob was that I would institute Mandatory Plastic Clink-Wrap Halter-Top Tuesdays; a bacchanal of his own design, but quite detailed in its complexity. I possess yet still the notes he scrawled upon the strong, blue industrial paper towels. We did sign a contract—my blood was unavailable, due to the decreasing functionality of my environmental suit, so we signed it in oil, which I am told is tantamount to the same thing. As the sovereign Lord of these lands, I had intended on simply issuing edicts of fiat on the matter of Plastic Clink-Wrap Halter-Top Tuesdays, make public the excruciating details, and being done with the matter."
George Double-Yew then did sigh deeply, and shake of his shaggy, grey head. It makes me very much the sad when George Double-Yew is the sad, for there are only two causes of his sadness: the first is that he grows tired of serving in my Cabinet, and is desirous of the freedoms to roam, and the second is that I have presidentially disappointed him.
"You . . . Seems that some funny notions have got into your head, Squidgy. Part of it is just 'cause you don't seem to have the difference between a king and a president there, and the other part is because of the words: yeah, there's fellas called 'Bill,' but there is also things called 'bills'—"
"Like for to pay for the service of telephone, water and the cable televisions?"
George Double-Yew stopped. "Yeah. There's those, too. But these are different. Similar, there's that fellow was in Lolita, Jude Law—"
"That fellow was Jeremy of Iron."
"Well, there's that actor Jude Law, whatever he was in—"
"He was the Sky Captain of the World of Tomorrow."
"I never saw it."
"It was quite the entertainment.
"But, I'm saying, there's that actor Jude Law, and then there's 'laws.' You can't just declare laws, they have to go through a process. Look," and George Double-Yew rustled back within his Cabinet for many moments, and then pressed to his single viewing window a scrap of paper. I saw that it was a sheet form one of his for-to-add-color books, and on it he had scrawled a diagram:
"See, this is how a bill becomes a law."
"To whom do I introduce Bill? And where is this first pod-room located? Within this Whitened House?"
"No, see . . ." he pulled the diagram down and held it a-next to his face, pointing illustratively, "This is a, whatchacall, flow-chart. It's not a map. It's the ideas of how it goes. All this happens in the Capitol."
"We are in the Capitol, George Double-Yew!"
"No, no, it happens . . . you don't know . . . " his pause was long, "You don't know a damn thing about how all this works. You don't know a thing. How did you beat me?"
"I ran upon a platform of values and reassuring nonsense."
He shook his head, as though to clear it of grit and bubbles, "Doesn't matter. This all happens in the Capitol Dome, up the way. With Congress."
I looked at him blankly, wondering The congress of whom?
"Your, um . . . Niña, the boat, full of pirates and pilgrims and such. See, that's not a boat, it's a building, with a mess of offices and two big rooms, and one room has a hundred fellas in it, two from each State—"
"Would that not then be eight men? Two from Liquid, two from Solid, two from Gas and two from Plasma."
George Double-Yew looked at me, non-plussed and glowersome.
"This is serious. The one chamber with the hundred is Senate, and the other, it has, somethin' like four-hundred folks in it, different numbers from each State, depended on how many folks are in that State. Proportional representation. The bill is introduced in one of those chambers—don't matter which—and then sent to a Committee, maybe even a couple Committees, what know about the things the bill is about, and they research it, debate it, punch it up, fix it and make it agreeable. Work out details. Maybe the bill isn't fixable, no one can agree or get it to work, and so it," he pointed at the stagnant, dead-end corridorarrow, "And it Dies in Committee. But if it can work, then the fixed up bill goes out to the floor, in front of everyone in that chamber, and they argue it out and vote. If it gets voted in, then it goes to the other chamber and his the same rigamarole. Lotsa times, they got two versions of the same bill goin' through simultaneous, so the both get off the floor at the same time, and go into Conference Committee," he indicated the dashed-path which swooped low on the page, "and the two bills get made into one." I imagined these two Bills being hacked and stitched.
"Like in the fine film Frankenhooker"
What an arduous road, to being Jude Law!
"Ph, and then it goes to the President—who is, um, you, now. And three things can happen: First, maybe you like it, and so you sign it, and it's a law."
"Um . . . yeah. Second, maybe you don't like it, so you veto it—which means you say it can't be a law—and make a list of what needs fixin', and send it back to Congress. Then, they can either fix it back up and resubmit it as a new bill, or they can vote to over-ride your veto, though that hardly ever happens." George Double-Yew chuckled, and I had gladness; I am glad when he is given a moment of gladness. Do we not all feel as such for our treasured pets?
"And thirdly? The third path?"
He shook from his reverie, "Oh, third is you can not sign it, just leave it sittin' on the desk. This is for tricky issues, where you don't wanna seem like you're for it or against it."
"Does he then become Law?"
"Sometimes," George Double-Yew smiled conspiratorially, "This is tricky; if you don't sign it, but Congress is still in session—still on the job, that is—for another 10 days, then it becomes law one way or the other, and you can always say 'I never signed that bill; I don't agree with that rotten Congress and their evil ways,' even if it's the sorta thing you want a law on. But, if the bill isn't signed and Congress doesn't have 10 more days on the job, then the bill is vetoed by default—it's called the Pocket Veto—and you can say 'Well, I never vetoed that bill; it was good ideas, we just didn't have the time to get it together—if only that darn Congress had got it to me sooner.'" George Double-Yew smiled broadly and nodded.
"Quite cunning," I agreed, "Then, to proceed, I must introduce this Bill of Law to the Congress?"
"No, as President, you can't write a bill and submit it to Congress. You'll need to get someone to do it for you—"
"Mitt Romney? Mitt is very kind."
"Or Gingerfur Granholm? She is the fox, as my assistant Rob does vocally attest."
"No, Squidgy, stop. Those are both Governors— a totally different, er . . . operation of the governments. You need a senator or representative to do it."
"Senator Puppytime of the Phantom Menace of the Clone Wars?"
"No, a real senator. Isn't there someone in your party you could talk to?"
"Space Alien party, or whatever you are. Monster Party. Try Rick Santorum. He seems like your sort. Talk to Rick about your Mardi Gras Tuesday and have him write it up, introduce it. Don't be push on the issue—never say nothin' direct about wanting this to pass, but let it be known, subtly, that this legislation is important to ya. That there can be favors."
"Indeed. Favors. George, you again prove yourself invaluable. What 'favors' might I bestow to you?"
"Can I get out of this box?"
"Can Condi come and visit?"
"Would you not prefer a possibly conjugal visit of your wife, Laurel?"
"Can Condi come and visit?"
"I can possibly arrange it. Truth told, the complexity of remaking Bill to Jude Law—"
"A bill to a law"
"—Gives me the sadness. My way, she would be easier. This Rick Sanitorium, is he a pirate or a pilgrim?"
George Double-Yew did rub of his face, and I expected I again did make of him the disappointment. "It's not pirates and pilgrims, and there's no boats. See, . . ."
to be continued . . .
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