It was early on Monday, a day I no longer dread as each day of confinement seems about the same as the one before. I had my espresso and a small plate of salami, olives, and cheese (Comté, left over from last night’s gratin dauphinois.) A small glass of pinot noir stood at the ready.
I sat at the edge of the deck, admiring God’s work in the bumper crop of knee-high weeds that had overtaken the yard. I was also thinking about why some people spell God’s name with a hyphen rather than the “o.” Is it pronounced the same?
I took my last slug of the syrupy espresso and reached for the wine. Suddenly, a great exhalation of hot air blew sweeping across the yard. It blew a paper-thin slice of prosciutto into the weeds. Damn. It reminded me of the Santa Ana winds that each summer would make Angelinos fall into moods that were tense, uneasy, and wrathful. Sometimes, violence ensued.
“Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks,” wrote Raymond Chandler in his 1938 novel, Red Wind. “Anything can happen.”
I went into the house and found more red wine. A mere three ounces, I could sense, would not suffice on a day like this.
I turned on the radio, hoping that a news broadcast would tell what I had just experienced.
Described as a phenomena previously unknown by man, it was the whooshing sound of our nation’s collective sigh of mass relief that the President had finally convinced Chuck Woolery to join the White House pandemic team. Already, through an exchange of a series of highly articulate Tweets about hoaxes and the evil Left Wing radical commie-bastard Democrats, Trump had begun drawing on the former emcee’s encyclopedic knowledge about everything except women’s shoes, an area in which he is sorely lacking.
Trump assured Chuck that it wouldn’t be a problem. “That’s why we keep Ivanka around.”
And who better to replace Jared Kushner, who was busy perusing promotional pamphlets from Federal prisons? You know, just in case.
Already the pundits were asking if there might be roles for Steve Harvey, Pat Sajak, Drew Carey, or Alex Trebek.
In case you haven’t noticed, the Trump Administration has had the highest number of staff turnovers in recorded history. Actually, that may or may not be true, but I really don’t care to do the research, so you’ll just have to run with it like I have.
One of the reasons for this record-setting turnover rate is that the people charged with vetting applicants to various jobs haven’t a clue about the kind of people Trump wants at the table. Until now. With his surprise announcement of a love for Chuck that was once reserved only for Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of North Korea, Trump welcomed the former game show host by mumbling something like, “Will amco ta da, Chicky.”
And in less than a week, Woolery was gone from the Admistration, presumably because he lost the endorsement deal from Goya beans to his boss.
Himself a veteran has-been from the world of game shows, it appears that Trump really likes celebrities. If they are well known and Trump gets a picture with them, his status (in his eyes) goes up several poll points because each member of his base subscribes to People magazine. Not even his staff reads The Economist.
Trying my best to be a good citizen, I’m willing to help Trump fill his cabinet posts, even if many of them are dead (like he’d know) or Democrats (agents in this subterfuge) so he can play 18 holes of uninterrupted golf every day for the next four months
In order of succession to the Presidency:
Vice President of the United States
Buh-bye Pence. You’ll be replaced by anybody with a pulse who finds some kind of macabre pleasure in attending funerals of the leaders of tiny nation-states and who doesn’t call his wife, Mother.
Department of State
Paul Lynde, whose rather flamboyant style of expression will keep world leaders both amused and confused, will also improve international relations just because they can’t make sense of whatever it is that we might be doing.
Department of the Treasury
Secretary Jimmy Stewart once played a banker with a heart of gold. I mentioned that this was fantasy, right?
Department of Defense
Secretary Richard Roundtree. He revives his role as “Shaft.” Any questions?
Department of Justice
Attorney General Raymond Burr looks enough like Bill Barr that Trump will never even notice. Unlike Barr, Perry Mason was likeable and he has never lost a case.
Department of the Interior
Secretary Dixie Carter, as the team leader in Designing Women, Ms. Carter—a name Trump doesn’t trust—will remove all of that tacky gold crap and replace it with muted tones and Shaker furniture.
Department of Agriculture
Secretary Eddie Albert. Who else is better suited to oversee food production and trade than Eva Gabor’s television husband? It’s the also the only cabinet post with a theme song: “Green Acres is the place to be…”
Department of Commerce
Secretary Redd Fox should have no trouble understanding the junk bonds that will be Wall Street’s only surviving commodity.
Department of Labor
Secretary Tennessee Ernie Ford pretty much covered America’s labor condition when he sang, “Sixteen tons/what do you get/another day older and deeper in debt…”
Department of Health and Human Services
Secretary Robert Young, who revives his role as Marcus Welby, M.D., a controversial doctor who employed an Hispanic receptionist before it was even required, and who is not afraid to wear a mask.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary Bob Vila has a plan to remodel every house in America with sponsorship money from tool manufacturers and the Weyerhaeuser Company, including use of WC’s embalmed trees for atrium decorations.
Department of Transportation
Secretary Danny DeVito. Any dispatcher with five drivers and three cabs in his charge should have no problem dealing with our transportation issues. The FFA, by the way, is under his oversight. His daily report is usually, “Nothing fell out of the sky today, boss. We good?”
Department of Energy
Secretary Richard Simmons is the very embodiment of energy. Besides, he’ll make a lot of people in the West Wing really uncomfortable.
Department of Education
Secretary Karen Valentine. She’s smarter, more articulate, and far prettier than Betsy DeVos. But then again, so is Minnie Pearl.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Secretary Jim Nabors was the first victim of the Clinton Administration’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” directive. Trump knows nothing about this.
Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Clint Eastwood. Really? You have questions? When he’s not verbally assaulting a chair, he’s on the case—armed and ready.
The following positions have the status of Cabinet-rank:
White House Chief of Staff
Ann B. Davis, who kept the Brady Bunch in line, will easily handle the idiocy of the West Wing.
Environmental Protection Agency
Administrator Jim Fowler, star of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, will make regular visits to the Oval Office with exotic and endangered species, such as Republicans.
Office of Management & Budget
Director Bob Newhart was trained as an accountant who thought rounding figures off was good enough.
United States Trade Representative
Ambassador Marlon Brando will make deals nobody could refuse. Enough said.
United States Mission to the United Nations
Ambassador Mr. Fred Rogers. If you’ve ever seen the video of him defending PBS before a Senate panel, you’ll understand this selection.
Council of Economic Advisers
Chairman Karl Marx. While known for his work creating communism, he actually was a London-based economist who might actually explain why “trickle-down” doesn’t work.
Small Business Administration
Administrator Joe Conley. As Ike Godsey, the man who had the smallest retail operation on Walton Mountain, he gained vast small business experience. He also understands that “trickle-down” doesn’t work.
Photo montage by Courtney A. Liska
Gratin dauphinois (Potato Gratin)
Butter to grease the baking dish
2 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 cup whole milk
1 Tbs. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
3-4 large Russet potatoes (about 3 pounds), peeled and sliced very thin
1 cup shredded Comté cheese
Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 11x7x2-inch baking dish with butter.
After slicing the potatoes, soak them in cold water for 10-15 minutes.
In a large saucepan, place all of the ingredients (except the cheese).
Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the potato slices and make a layer in the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, nutmeg and about one-third of the cheese. Repeat process twice more.
In the meanwhile, boil the milk-cream mixture and reduce slightly.
Pour over the potatoes, place in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife and golden brown on top. Let the dish settle and cool for about ten minutes before serving.