KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
"Come in. Well, if it isn't Spiro Amburn, my favorite chief of staff. How are you, Spiro?"
"I'm fine, Mr. Speaker. You sent for me?"
"Yes, I did. We are getting pretty close to Thanksgiving and I wondered what kind of ‘working trip' you have planned for us this year. You outdid yourself last year, son, getting that Washington lobbyist to take us to Germany to see those really neat trains. What do you call them? Magnified Libation trains?"
"No sir, they are called Magnetic Levitation trains and thank you for the compliment but I'm going to suggest we stay closer to home this year."
"You are kidding. Surely, you are not suggesting that I stay home for Thanksgiving, Spiro. What kind of chief of staff are you, boy? I want another ‘working trip.' Maybe go to Paris to watch boats floating down the Seine River. We can tell everybody we are interested in doing the same thing on the Amicalola River."
"Mr. Speaker, the Amicalola River is a dangerous river full of rapids. Boats would be smashed all to pieces. Lives would be lost."
"I know that, Spiro. I'm jerking your chain, son. I just want to get out of town and have somebody pick up the tab. What's wrong with that?"
"Well, sir. There is a newspaper columnist that has been on your case ever since we took the trip to Germany last year. He didn't like that - to say the least - and I understand he got a lot of mail from readers who didn't think much of it, either. He particularly didn't approve of your let-'em-eat-cake attitude about the trip. He thought the least you could have done was apologize for your bad judgment."
"Well, la-di-dah. Just yank his media credentials and let's see how he eats that cake, Spiro."
"That's the problem, sir. He is not a part of the Capitol press corps. Besides, he wouldn't fit in with that group anyway. He shines his shoes and he doesn't have gravy stains on his tie. To make things worse, he used to be on the State Ethics Commission. Despite all you say about your interest in full disclosure, I have a feeling he would come closer to believing you can float boats down the Amicalola than buy your claim that our current ethics laws are sufficient."
"Doggone it, Spiro. Do something. This is not good. Remember, if I don't get to take a ‘working trip,' you don't either. This pig slices both ways."
"I have no idea what that means, sir, but I do believe we both would do well to lay low this Thanksgiving. Maybe smoke a turkey in the backyard."
"Spiro, you know I don't smoke."
"Yessir. I guess I wasn't thinking clearly. Let me put it another way, Mr. Speaker. This guy thinks that while you have House members bowing and scraping and lizard-loafered lobbyists falling all over themselves to feed you and entertain you, you aren't fooling the unwashed. A lot of people think you typify what is wrong with politics these days, a sense of entitlement: free meals, not paying your taxes on time, having your relatives hired by lobbyists. He thinks you are out of touch with the common folks. The man is on us like white on rice and, unfortunately, a lot of plebeians follow his column in the state. That's why we need to be careful about taking any more ‘working trips.'"
"All right, Spiro, but if I get a chance to go to the Italian Riviera to analyze whether or not topless sunbathing would work at Jekyll Island, we will have to have another conversation on the subject. In the meantime, let's just ignore this guy."
"We've been ignoring him, sir. That's the problem. But he won't go away. However, if I can swing a free trip to the Italian Riviera, maybe we could invite him along and when he isn't looking, put his head in a bucket of cement and drop him in the Mediterranean. That is a working trip we would both enjoy."
"By golly, Spiro, that's the answer. Then there will be nobody left to criticize us. You are a genius, son. Now go find a lizard-loafered lobbyist and let's have ourselves a free lunch. All of a sudden, I've got a powerful appetite."
Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays and on gainesvilletimes.com. Contact him at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139 or visit his website.