The passengers seated in
Coach were becoming increasingly and understandably anxious.
It had been nearly eight
years since the Republican Corporation had acquired Administrative Airways in a
hostile takeover, and the airline's only plane, "The Economy," was
showing signs of RC's trademark 'leaner but meaner' strategy.
The seats were soiled
and worn, with many of the safety belts malfunctioning or missing; flight
attendants had been eliminated; and the single bathroom was out of order and
overflowing. Even the magazines passengers once tediously perused had been
replaced with Gideon Bibles.
First Class, on the
other hand, was a different story. All the seats had been redesigned to be
nothing less than luxurious, each with its own personal attendant and private
lavatory. In fact the entire First Class section had been encapsulated into its
own separate 'pod,' capable of being ejected, and safely gliding and
parachuting to the ground in case of an emergency.
Questioned as to why so
much money -- in fact, all the money the once profitable airline had ever made,
and a massive amount recently borrowed -- had gone to a tiny fraction of the
plane's seating capacity, RC's spokesperson Grover Norquist responded:
"By putting all of
our investment in First Class, we feel that the money those dozen or so First
Class passengers spend on cocktails and such will eventually trickle down to
the bottom line and enable us to one day, theoretically anyway, upgrade the
entire plane to First Class standards. And, in the interim, I believe we are
providing a valuable incentive to those flying Coach to work even harder, so
that they too might one day be able to fly first class! In theory anyway."
But it wasn't the seats,
the bathroom, or the lack of flight attendants that had the Coach passengers
worried this November day.
In addition to diverting
all monetary investment from Coach to First Class, RC had also eliminated all
inspections and mechanical maintenance on "The Economy", and six
years of flying practically nonstop without so much as kicking the tires was
beginning to take its toll.
The oil pressure light had been flashing for so long the
pilots hardly noticed it anymore, hydraulic fluid was leaking everywhere,
electrical wires were brittle and frayed, and the landing gear was completely
shot. In addition, at this particular moment, the fuel gauge was reading
dangerously low and they were 500 miles from the nearest airport.
On the ground, heated
negotiations that had been taking place for months were coming to a head.
Representatives of the Democratic Corporation, who for years had been 'subtly
hinting' at an impending catastrophe resulting from the RC's 'leaner but
meaner' strategy, were pulling out all stops to gain control of the airline and
its single plane once again.
relinquish control!," snarled RC's Chief Operations
Officer Dick Cheney. "You're just trying to paint a negative picture in
order to deceive the stockholders into selling. The airline is doing just fine.
In fact, it's in far better shape than it's ever been! Want proof? Just check
out this recent poll taken in First Class. Those passengers are thrilled with
what RC has done with "The Economy"! Their only concern is with the
prospect of you guys regaining control. They're certain, as are we, that DC
management would drive this airline straight into the ground. In fact, we
guarantee that's what would happen. So we owe it to the public to never sell,
no matter what kind of pressure you exert."
echoed George W. Bush, RC's CEO. "Bring it on!"
Just then, Chief
Financial Officer Karl Rove leans in and whispers something in Bush's ear. He
inexplicably stares blankly into space for a few minutes, then confers with
"By the way . . . not
that we're ever going to sell or anything, because of course that would be
disastrous for the airline, but . . . what kind of offer did you have in
mind?" Cheney asks in a muted tone. "We're
just kind of curious."
A short time later the
announcement is made.
"We at the
Democratic Corporation are thrilled to announce that after strenuous
negotiations, and a substantial financial investment, we have once again taken
charge of Administrative Airways! In fact, one of our pilots just happens to be
on board "The Economy" right now, and will take control of the plane,
(As the DC pilot enters
the cockpit, the 'out of fuel' alarm begins to blare, and one of the two
engines sputters and shuts down.)
"Please join us,
and our stockholders, in celebrating this monumental acquisition! Yes, tonight
we are once again flying high, and the future of the Democratic Corporation
looks good indeed!"
Shortly thereafter - despite a prepared statement
of extreme disappointment, along with another parting shot warning of
Democratic control of the airline, Cheney, Bush, and Norquist were observed
dining at a luxury restaurant in a state of what could only be described as