The Optimum Oligarchy Orations (2020)

(Scenes between an imaginary American President, Don Gold, and a Russian counterpart — Vlad — sometime in 2020)

ACT ONE:

Scene: a swank penthouse with large glass windows overlooking Moscow at night. Two men walk in, one tall with golden weaved hair and an imperious attitude, followed by a taciturn, chisel-faced Russian with a measured demeanor.

Don: (walking and waving hands) There it is! In all its glory … the beautiful Moscow skyline. Lots more lights than when I was last here … years ago. When was it? The beauty pageant …

Vlad: More lights, yes, and still clean and safe … not like some places I could mention. (he smirks)

Don: Those teapot buildings, that’s what I call them. You have them lit up just right. Really shows ’em up nice. I’m sure you get a lot of tourists from out in the country.

Vlad: Everyone wants to come here, and … they find no homeless cluttering the streets. I read where there’s 36,000 in one city alone in your long-suffering country … Hollywood town, I think, the tinsel place. Sick, hungry, shitting and pissing everywhere. How do you deal with all that?

Don: Well, that’s the story isn’t it? We’ve got these flat broke so-called refugees flooding in while we got problems of our own. No jobs, no nothing, except a burden on our own people. Hey … uhh ..

Vlad: (lifting the large silver lid off a platter on the table) For you, my friend, enjoy freely and … (walking to the other side of the table) here is my simple Russian repast. It is the finest. (picks up a bottle of vodka triumphantly, and two shot glasses. He looks at Gold with an unspoken question.)

Don: A fine use of potatoes, I’m sure. I’ve never indulged much. Like to stay alert, in control, nothing to dull me down. I’m up, I’m always up … thinking.

Vlad: I know that you … Twitter … all through the night. They say you are ‘twittering’ away your presidency.

Don: The only thing that keeps me in direct touch with my voter base, and it’s big. It‘s a lot bigger than they imagine. There’s a world my critics don’t understand. The economy is booming, and they don’t understand that either. It doesn’t fit into their conspiracy theories. (He has rolled a line of cocaine and now snorts it up through a silver straw)

Vlad: Salud! (he downs a shot)

Don: Whew! Well that’ll put lead in your pencil. Which reminds me … do you have any friends …

Vlad: But of course. When you get to your bedroom, push on the TV, it will be on station 1. Flip through the pictures and make a choice, all good ones, of course. She will be there in a few minutes. One … perhaps two.

Don: This hotel is well equipped with pussy, I see.

Vlad: For foreign dignitaries, people I choose.

Don: With built-in cameras in the rooms, right? That wouldn’t happen, would it?

Vlad: Ha! Only if necessary. That’s somewhat silly for us, my friend, our finances have been entwined, all over the world, for thirty years or more. We work together with mutual interests, that’s it. Nobody needs a porn tape, that’s small-time shit. And it would open a …. what is it called … a Pandora’s box.

Don: I agree. Sure. I’d like to get into Pandora’s box. Is she available? (smirking)

Vlad: Listen … my friend Donald. We must get our strategy together. We don’t have much time for pussy tonight.

Don: I agree, maybe just a quick blow job later. We do need to address some shit in the time we’ve got tonight.

Vlad: Fact number 1: We’ve got the biggest money moving machine that has ever been. And fuck the Rothschilds and the big banks in your capitalist domain. (He takes a second shot.)

Don: I’ve got nothing for them. When I needed them, when I was trying to develop real estate and bring up the city and had some misfortunes, some inevitable market downturns, they weren’t there for me. They actually worked against me at every turn. It was politics, mostly, and I showed them. Look who took over their … Politics! And they can’t get over it. They’ve fought me at every turn. Why would I expect it to be different, just because I happen to be President? They want my nuts on a tray but then …. they always did. (snorts a second line.)

Vlad: Don … listen. We do need to talk as personal friends. I must tell you something you do not want to hear.

Don: Speak up. Now’s the time.

Vlad: You … my illustrious friend, most often live in a bubble. They are all working to burst it. There is a lot of them. And you are not seeing it clearly.

Don: A bubble.

Vlad: Full of air, not substance. You have created a reality inside that bubble so that you can’t see the true reality outside. Can you see that? You believe what you want to believe, whether it’s true or not. That’s what people do, fit the truth to their … indelible and false beliefs. It’s their ego. They tattoo themselves. They brand themselves.

Don: The Gold Brand is what I’m selling. See, I’ve always created my own reality, and I’ve been pretty good at it. How many beautiful towers over the world have the Gold name on top, how many resorts, how many golf courses? The brand increases the value, see? Self-promotion, image marketing is a full-time job and it has always included a little puffery. Real estate values are relative. They can go up or down. So are other so-called values. They are relative. Politics? It’s all relative. But I know how to win. There’s an electorate out there that my opponents are never able to see. They’re blinded with their …. collusion delusions. It is simple to my supporters. I don’t bullshit. I’m real. I tell it like it is and don’t back down. That’s what my people like. And that’s what my enemies hate.

Vlad: You are …. arguing with me, Don. I’m not here to argue. I’m not here to be convinced of some alternate reality. There is only one. It is a huge steel trap, from your courts, from your Congress, from your Fortune 500 enemies, the big banks and then all of the people of color you have denigrated, and many millions of women, with their stockpile of issues. They are all against you. Do you not see the polls? (takes a third shot.)

Don: Well, that’s quite a load, Vladimir. So you still don’t see my …. invisible constituency out there. My base is the core people of my country. They live real lives, they are real people. Call them the salt of the earth. They see life, they see the world as it is, and not some imaginary socialist kingdom where everybody is piled into the same bed together, from the African jungles — Bill Gates and his bunch blow a lot of money over there — to the Muslims setting up their terror cells in the country, the wetbacks going straight to street gangs, which are a real curse in our cities. My people, my voters, want something better, and won’t tolerate the continuing invasion of low-life, low-IQ drains on our society.

Vlad: But you had to separate mothers and children. Now, millions of people in your country and across the world hate you for it. What does this accomplish for you? Just another failure, you fire more people to show that it is. And you still have children in prison in your dese, in tent cities and cages which are no doubt paid for by your taxpayers.

You are losing the battle, Don. You are going down whether you believe it or not and you are making it worse every day with the things that come out of your mouth. Why can you not be the strong silent type, like Clint Eastwood or John Wayne? Can you not learn to shut up before you bring everything down, everywhere, all of our towers, all of our paper companies. Do you understand? (takes a shot)

Don: Is that stuff really smooth? I might do a hit. And (gestures to the bowl of coke on the platter) there’s plenty here. Maybe a little cross-culture sharing here?

Vlad: Well, hell yes, why not? (He dips a tiny silver spoon on the powder and snorts it down.

Don: You bring up serious matters. I’m under fire from all quarters. That’s the truth. Okay. That’s been the case for a very long time. My people, that Sessions redneck from Alabama, led me wrong on that one. And still those kids get food, shelter, three meals a day. They weren’t getting shit hanging on their moms and so-called moms and dragging themselves all the way across Mexico.

Vlad: Those people don’t vote. And you’re not getting any votes by shitting on them every day in the news. And you can’t do another bankruptcy when Congress gets all over you. They’re circling you like a murder of crows.

Don: They’ve got no grounds. The economy’s great. What the hell am I getting blamed for anyway? We gave some tax breaks to the people who can move the economy and they’re doing it. We took off a bunch of stupid government regulations that were crippling business. It’s rolling now. And my opponents? They just can’t stand it. They’re going wild with these terrible witch hunts that go nowhere.

Vlad: Don’t forget all those indictments. You’ve got people in prison. This is all piling up higher and higher and all of leading to you. Listen to me, please. You may need to be satisfied with this one term and work to stay out of impeachment unless we take a radical new path. You need to tone it all down and let us, together, work out a plan for what is possible, and what is not. We have one for you.

Don: Look. Maybe I can’t win. They’re all against me. Maybe I won’t even run. I’ll just claim victory and leave the field. That always cuts them off good.

Vlad: When you are a private citizen … Donald … they will come after you, will they not? What do you plan to do? We must plan that together, too, the two of us — a plan that covers our remaining time and … the long haul as well. We have been friends and business partners for a long time, and, today, now, we must face the reality of all the forces aligned against us, and realize that our strategy must change, and it must be sound. No more … puffery, okay?

Don: (feeling light-headed, weaving around the floor.) Whew! What’s in that powder anyway? That shit’s blowing me away.

Vlad: Sit down, my friend. Take a few deep breaths. Then … just one hit of this.

Don: (uncertain on his feet, a little dazed, euphoric, takes the shot glass.) What about the pussy? I need to stay in shape for the Russian pussy. Are we done with the business?

Vlad: One more hit. Knock it down. It’ll level you out.

Don: So you say. (staring at the vodka. He sits it down.) I don’t think so. Alcohol is poison, you know. We gave it to our suckers in the casinos, loosens them up for a fleecing. You know that. They all do it.

Vlad: Excuse me. That is your capitalistic bullshit — incessant selling. You never shut up trying to get other people’s money. They’ve turned your computer screens into billboards. You Americans waste billions of dollars spewing all that tripe over the people.

Don: Advertising. Big Business. We Americans are the biggest bullshit artists in the world.

Vlad: And you’re number one. (He takes a shot.)

Don: You still hitting that juice? You gotta cast iron liver, my friend? No … I got it. You wanted to drink me under the table? Is that a point of pride. That’s what the macho guys do, isn’t it? I’ve seen you bare chested riding that horse. Did you mean to put that out there? That muscle picture?

Vlad: Of course. You are not the only image maker in the world. My people, my Russians, like me because I am strong, and viral. And they don’t need the so-called freedom to vote for another party. They have a strong and stable government and they’ve got free education and health care, something which your profit-grubbing billionaires want to use to make money. Your college graduates come out of school in deep debt — to the banks. Make everybody a fucking customer.

Don: In all respect, I’ve just never seen a socialism system that worked. That’s why strong men, like yourself, Sir, always take them over pretty quickly. Do you see what’s happening in the world? Strong leaders are taking hold, able to do what’s necessary to bring about social order, control, good financial management for the one and only. Me and my country. Enlightened self-interest, backed by military. You’ve brought that strong leadership to Russia. I just want to do the same thing, and I’m busting my ass to do it.

Vlad: I have complete control, Don. You have none. Your two-party system turns everything from the rational to the political, all selfish interests, lies, to get rich and you, your people, have to endure a continuing wave of political bullshit, year around. And you can’t control any of it. I can.

Don: Well, that’s kind of an exaggeration. I am the President. I can make waves wherever I want to, and I can keep the spotlight away from these other … jerks. I’m doing it. I’m controlling the news cycle with straight talk my base wants to hear. And my great economy just keeps on going.

Vlad: Your days are numbered, my friend. You get no credit for the economy. Wall Street wants you out. You’re too volatile; they want you out of there. The people with money, with influence. You won’t face the fact that you are going to lose if you even get to run. The wolves are circling; you have broken laws.

Don: Volatile?

Vlad: Unpredictable. Makes everyone restless, edgy, uncomfortable. (He turns and hurls a shot glass across the room and into a wall picture, which shatters.)

Don: (grinning) That’s the way I like it. Keeps you in control. Makes people jump when you say jump. Then you tell them what to do and they do it. Or you can do it yourself. In my Twitter world, I can scream “fuck you” to everybody. (He takes a vodka hit and hurls the shot glass into the same shattered picture.)

Vlad: Here’s mud in your eye, huh?

Don: Whatever it takes, my friend. I never back down from a fight and I DO take it personal. It’s much better that way. Then you can focus exactly on your adversary, know just where to hit them.

Vlad: So you lower yourself to argue with nobodies, Don. That just lifts them up and lowers you down. You need to raise the image of the office. The most shit you are getting is because you’ve turned it — — your so-called oval office into a rotten egg. You even let that nasty black rapper sit on your desk.

Don: I need the support of those people. Their music kind of defines the social order we got now, and they got plenty to bitch about. The language may be a little rough but sometimes you have to be tough and speak plainly, words people understand. It’s either right or wrong, do it this way or that. Got to make a decision and stand on it, and know that the socialists over in the Pelosi wing are going to fight you at any rate. But I’m ready for them. I’ve got lawyers that will stonewall them back to the stone age. You can’t fuck over a standing president. The laws are pretty clear on that.

Vlad: Donald, my friend, you are doing that to yourself with your bull-headed decisions.

Don: You have to be a bull sometimes. Ever see the big bull on the street there … Wall Street? That’s me sometimes.

You keep tearing up trade agreements and treaties and nullifying months and years of hard work by people in many countries to put them together. Then here you come … the golden man, Don Gold, who puts all of it in his little property development office …. into your real estate development mindset. You are supposed to be President of a country, for all the people in that country, not a land developer.

Don: Vlad, you’ve got to know I won’t be President forever. And for a long time after my service, I will, in fact, become the Gold Tower of world business. Are we not going to make that happen? You’ve used the Towers and my businesses, I’ve used the funding of you and our friends in Germany. We are on track. We are stronger than the lot of them. We are going to create legal walls they’ll never get over.

Vlad: Soon after you lose the election, they will not rest until you’re in a prison suit. Look at it worldwide. How many leaders, presidents, dictators, wind up in prison after they’ve left office, and their successors have turned the wolves on them.

Don: I’m not going to argue with that, so you said we need a plan. What is it? And … look, you are still underestimating my strength. My people, my millions, many millions of people out there, in the streets, in the towns won’t let me be run out of town without a fight. Congress, the courts, nobody will want to see what’s unleashed on the streets, the already violent streets of this country, if they treat me badly. They had best not do it.

Vlad: Are you sure you want to be involved with the Aryan Nation and the Nazis in a street war, and …. the unsatisfied rebels of your slavery war. They would be representing you.

Don: Of course, we don’t want that. They will avoid that. And if it happens, I can claim innocence. They know that. That’s what I do.

Vlad: You’ll be in a legal stew the rest of your life — and your family as well. You have brought them into the pot with you. And they want to cook you all.

Don: So …. here’s the rub. I have to make a deal to work myself free from all these legal entanglements. And exit deal. Peace and bygones …. why don’t we just get along and save the scandal? Time to move on, for the good of the country. That’s my ticket out.

And then, finally, Vlad, we can get back into business without the stench of politics. Listen … Politics is a bunch of lawyers angling for graft. In Congress they come up there with their hands open. Business is clean and certain, not a bunch of under the table shit. Talk one thing at the table, platitudes and homilies to suit your base, and then crawl under that table of lies to get your money, and all covered up with a white tablecloth. I can’t stand it. They’re a bunch of hypocrites who do what people with real power and money tell them to do.

Vlad: Your system is corrupt to the core.

Don: It’s just making wealth, that’s what it is all over the world, anyplace with anybody. And I find it interesting. Few people know that you’re one of the richest men in the world, my friend. (He hits another spoon of coke.) You are a great Capitalist. Pretty funny, huh?

Vlad: No one needs to know. You are the one who seeks fame.

Don: Got to live the image, I do, or … no image. You’ve got a KGB spy image, you know. That‘s how they associate you — devious, clever, untrustworthy, violent. That’s a lot different from my image.

Vlad: I am respected and feared as well. It’s a win-win.

Don: See, you can do that because you’ve perfected that Oligarchy thing they talk about. Big business and a strong ruler. Work together with the power AND the money. Sounds pretty efficient to me. And I want one like yours. You’ve got one that works, you get a piece of action in the whole country. I have to contend with a zoo full of otherwise unemployed farts in the Congress who came to Washington in the first place to get on the corporate payroll. They don’t scare me; there’s dirt on most of them out there somewhere, believe me. If there isn’t we’ll generate some.

Vlad: Do you still have your tool, the National Enquirer with the man named Pecker? Ha! Is he still around? Mr. Pecker?

Don: Well, they’ve fucked up his life, too. They attack me from all sides, and they’ve done it from day one. You know, we could have done some good things, progressive stuff, if the Democrats and that greasy faced women from California could just let go of their vendetta. Enough’s enough. And I‘ve screamed it from the rafters, day after day — No Collusion. You know that’s true.

Vlad: We needed no encouragement and no assistance in going after the bitch and her grinning baboon of a husband. That pair has been a bane to my country for too long. They’re responsible for the sanctions that we have to live with, that hurts my people. We would do what we could to beat the Clintons and the Obamas at any rate.

Don: Funny as hell. I’m not guilty of collusion. I’m clean as a pin. You didn’t need my help. I keep telling them.

Vlad: Most Americans are Russia haters; they don’t respect us and they make political points by demonizing us and cranking up the war industries to stir shit stew somewhere in the world. We want to sell arms to our friends and you want to sell to yours. So we both want our own friends and allies and business partners. Just like the old Cold War days.

How about some shit with Iran, to suit your blood-stained Saudi friends?

Don: That surely is a whole other matter.

Vlad: Just another nail in your coffin. So … we have to plan an exit strategy.

Don: We’ll be up all night.

Vlad: I am programmed for 4 hours of sleep, and I’m on schedule. I will deliver a plan for you in the morning. It’s a perfect plan to help you gain favor again, put all the anxiety at rest and assure your people they are in good hands.

Don: A miracle worker. Great. You’re a welcome sight.

Vlad: (reaches to shake Don’s slightly wobbly hand.) I will see you here at 9 o’clock, breakfast served.

Don: And maybe we can talk about that Gold Tower before I go, just me and you.

Vlad: A monument to Capitalism right here in Red Square. I think we can close the book on that one, Don. Maybe at one time but you had to get into politics.

Don: It would be the symbol, the icon of a bold and great new friendship between two great countries. That’s what I’ve been working for, a new attitude, working together, the two biggest nuclear powers in the world. That’s a big stick too.

Vlad: America does not want us for friends. They want us for enemies so you can use fear to enrich your warmongers. You must burst these soap bubbles around you and get your feet back on the ground. See the truth and believe it.

Don: Change, progress. That’s what I understand and they don’t. I’m working to help the man develop North Korea, for example. You know the economic potential up there. They’ve got beaches, we can pump some money in there and make some money. When he sees the money, he’ll see the rewards of peace, of getting along. He doesn’t need nuclear missiles; he needs economic development. It just a matter of time till he sees that. I showed him a video of some skylines, some western world money at work and I think he was impressed. He just has to let it all soak in. It’s going to be a victory for me in the end. You can believe that.

Vlad: You have lowered yourself to equal footing with a tin pot dictator who is cruel and incompetent. You have therefore elevated him to your standing when he stands beside you with that fat ugly grin.

Don: I’m setting him up.

Vlad: Always the businessman, Don. I have to say it sheds a whole different kind of light on diplomacy.

Don: Well, if it’s not about doing business, it should be. The Gold name will continue to shine. And if I get a second term, there won’t be any stopping us.

Vlad: Don …. from where do you blow these bubbles. Go get your pussy. I will see you in the morning. (heading to the door )

Don: I feel energized, a little lightheaded but …

(The door closes. He is alone)

Don: Sunavabitch! He thinks he’s a lot smarter than me. He isn’t. A lot of people make that mistake.

(Curtain closes, end of Act One.)

ACT TWO

(Scene is the same, Don Gold is eating a sumptuous breakfast with a male servant and a woman waitress standing nearby.)

Don: (turning to servant): Wonder where this coffee comes from. Do you happen to know? Sure you do.

Servant: I am not certain, sir, I believe it may be from Turkey.

Don: Yeah, I didn’t know. I know you folks have your own trading partners and we have ours. I don’t know how much overlap, you know. I mean, we buy from Colombia, I know. Maybe you do too. I haven’t studied the trade patterns, but we’re doing that right now, my people, to see if we can make more effective trade deals in the world. You know, my country has been really screwed in some of the past deals our presidents have made but (sips his coffee), I’m working on it. Not from your country, far from it.

Servant: Yes sir, may I get you another muffin?

Don: No, I’m done.

(Don stands and pulls off his napkin as people come into the suite. Vladimir comes forward with outstretched hand and smiles, grabs Don’s hand, and introduces his associates. The large man looks remarkably like Don Gold. A woman stands nearby with a tablet computer.)

Vlad: Good morning, my friend. (With a slight wave, bids the two servants to scurry quietly from the room.)

This is my associate (he waves at the woman, who nods) and this is Mr. Jones. Don shakes hands with his near double.)

Don: Well … I don’t remember such as you in my family, but you sure look familiar. What’s the pitch, Vladimir?

Vlad: Mr. Jones is from a new American firm, actually. It’s called Optimum Orations. They’re speechwriters, image marketing people, but they’re more. I think they’ve got some solutions for our problems … our conundrum.

Don: Conundrum?

Vlad: An unsolvable problem. Seems to be. Can’t be solved. That’s what we’re facing in my opinion.

Don: So what, we’re giving up?

Vlad: Changing our strategy, and to do that, we have to change you — that image you’ve created over the past two years, an image which has turned off millions of people who actually voted for you.

Don: Well, I don’t know that you know that. The pollsters thought they had it all sized up too, but I kicked their ass in the last election.

Vlad: They weren’t polling enough uneducated bigots. You have captured their vote but, alas, virtually nobody in your constituency has any influence on public affairs at all. The people who do want you gone.

Don: People in hell want ice water.

Vlad: (turning to the woman) Have them bring a pitcher of ice water.

Don: Funny man, my friend. How about some more Turkish coffee too.

Vlad: The coffee is from Colombia. (looks at his watch) It is coming. And now we have time for Mr. Jones, who has a few things to say. Are you ready?

Jones: (waits for two men to bring in a podium. It has a facsimile of the U.S. Presidential seal. Vlad seats himself attentively with a glass of orange juice. Don gets his coffee. Jones looks over his papers, Don stares around the room uncertainly. Jones finally looks up toward an imaginary audience with a determined face.)

My Fellow Americans,

First, I know you’ve been interested in my unknown whereabouts of the last few days. Rumors have soared into the sky. So … here I am, fit and healthy and refreshed and — you know, I’ve had an epiphamy. A light bulb has opened up in my golden head. I am a more enlightened person after this short retreat and …. I think you will like me more.

I’m still a tough real estate developer at heart, you know, but the Presidency is calling for me to be more. It’s not so much beating people in a deal, really. That’s only leading to acrimony. With my new attitude and outlook, I will be looking for harmony, a new era of working together.

I will confront what’s wrong when I need to, but I intend to embrace whatever opportunity we have to build our country. That means working with all those feisty Democrats in the House of Representatives; let’s see what they really want to do.

I want to see an infrastructure development bill and a plan to pay for it. I want to see a meeting of the minds on the medical marijuana issues, the gun control issue. I call it gun management, by the way, and that’s what it is — a gun management program. I’m asking my people to work with more liberal minds for a common sense bill and it is my conviction and resolve that military style attack weapons must be taken out of the picture. No more. Get rid of them. Let the NRA go chase its tired old tail if it doesn’t agree.

Don: Wait a minute, Vlad. Who is this guy? It’s certainly not me.

Vlad: Exactly. We need a new You. Listen and learn.

Don: Why should I piss off the NRA? I get a lot of money from them.

Vlad: It’s strategic, Donald. Their ship is sinking in scandal. We even set them up with our woman — Ms. Butina.

Don: Your woman?

Vlad: Get on the popular side of an issue. Defuse the Democrats. Let your … hillbillies buy their guns under the radar. We’re trying to put you on the right side of everything here, Don. Can you just bear with us. Imagine you are in the audience here, a part of the vaunted American people, listening to this. I mean, listen, and get on the winning side of vote-getting issues. Temper your tantrums, take the right stands and you actually can win. You can.

Don: I can. I did. But I didn’t do it being somebody else.

Vlad: The vast majority of voters didn’t know what they were getting, Donald. Your farm belt, your industrial belts are going to turn away next time. You didn’t serve their needs. You only took them by a sliver of the vote last time, and that’s gone. You’re not bulletproof any more with your manufacturers and your farmers. I’ve got the numbers, everyone has the numbers.

Don: It’s not numbers, Vlad. It’s people.

Vlad: You celebrate an arena with 2,000 of your super fans and ignore the millions who stayed away, and the millions that fill your streets in protest. You’re a baby in a diaper blimp, and they’re flying it all over. Are you blind to all of this? Listen …. listen to my man, please.

Don: I’m listening. Let’s see what kind of sense he might make.

Jones: Thank you very much for those comments. I’m always glad to get feedback.

And I was talking about my recent epiphamy which has been … a sudden realization that I need to take on a new personna, become my higher, altruistic self. I need to put myself out of the spotlight and put you there. And I will.

There is a great deal of wealth inequality. Period. That’s the issue nobody wants to talk about. We will.

What about all the senseless killing? Why in God’s name would you kill somebody for being in another religion? These religions are all theoretical at any rate. Beliefs, not facts. Myth and story-telling. None of this belongs in the public dialogue. If you’re religious, can you learn the first tenant of religion — tolerance, caring about other people who were all created by some real God or other. We don’t know. We got to have some faith. And see that killing is not something religious people do.

And listen … I would appreciate it if my friends in the media would work together in some kind of new project to spotlight just where our politicians get their money and how well it fits their voting record. Of course, it’s okay to support the local business giants in your area, but you need to hold them accountable too. Some of our people in Congress should be ashamed at the way they go after the money.

I would like to see a campaign finance reform bill, and I’ll leave it at that in this brief overview. I’m looking at Congress, do it. Take off the shackles of corporate control and stand for the people who elected you. Keep your integrity to think for yourself. Stand up to the smooth-talking, self-serving lobbies. Stand up to your political party whips who are really only serving a cluster of special interests that control your party.

And I don’t support importing American jobs overseas in the name of a global economy. Instead of having a telemarketing center in the sprawling suburbs of Manila, Cebo City, let’s hire Americans at home and pay them a living wage for this country — not send it to a depressed third world mediocrity — especially one like the Philippines which has a despicable dictator with a lot of blood on his hands. He allows millions of his people to get hooked on drugs because of his government’s failure and then kills them for their addictions. We can’t prop up people like that with jobs that should go to Americans.

And … I don’t know … but maybe we should do away with the telemarketing industry entirely. I don’t know that it contributes to our quality of life, and many people consider it at least as annoying as mosquitoes.

Don: Hey, this guy has a way with words. Sounds pretty good.

Jones: Our legal drug bills are too high. Big Pharma sets the retail price and our government is not even allowed to bargain on it. A stacked deck. That needs to change; we need a health care system for all Americans, all of us who live and breathe.

Our health care system now blows billions of dollars at both ends of a spectrum — servicing billionaire CEO’s in their extravagant living and providing unpaid services for the poor, but then sticking the people in the middle, who do buy insurance, with the bill. Health care is more than capitalistic products and services, profits and loss statements; it’s life or death for our citizens and should by all means be included in the government’s mandate to provide for the general welfare of the people, like it says in the Constitution. Nothing more important.

Don: I’m sounding like a socialist. (a whispering aside to Vladimir.)

Vlad: You need to provide social programs for your people without draining them for your bloated private business profits. That’s something you Americans can’t seem to learn.

Don: Well, the U.S. is doing better than you are.

Vlad: Thanks to the crippling sanctions you people impose on us. And all we are doing is looking after our own interests.

Don: Like Ukraine, when you took over that territory.

Vlad: There was an election. Those people voted to affiliate with us and not those crooked bastards in their own country. Want to see corruption, they should look there.

Don: Everything is corrupt, Vlad, everybody, everywhere. Let’s just get that on the table. And so … this guy and his spiel are going to get me re-elected? This guy who is definitely not me?

Vlad: He is giving you a platform where you can’t lose, Don. You can’t lose with this. This is a stand you can take that will turn you into a hero.

Don: Do I want to be a …. hero? To whom?

Vlad: We want chicken salad, at least, and you are chicken shit. You are going down in a landslide unless you let us help you. And I do not want …. I do not want all of our business dealings exposed. You tend to bring other people down with you, or you throw them under the bus.

Don: Why do you see fit to insult me, Vladimir? I don’t get why you would want to treat me like that. Why? We’ve been good for each other over the years. Now you’re trying to make me over into somebody else.

Vlad: You did that when you became President, when you got into politics. But … all you have to do to get re-elected is to back popular positions. What do the people want? Tell them that. Haven’t you been listening? This man, and his beautiful script, is full of pie and sweet promises. Tell the people what they want to hear.

Don: And pray tell, what else do they want to hear? (He turns with a flourish to Jones at the podium.)

Jones: And so the working people need a living wage, a health care plan, and a higher education plan for their children that doesn’t drain their money and put them into deep debt to the banks — and facing an uncertain future with that expensive degree. Why? Because all the companies have gone global or electronic, or otherwise have seriously cut the number of people they will hire. It’s an axiom in business; hold down costs and labor is your greatest one. And it’s cheaper in India and other third world sweatboxes. Too many rich people have sold out the country for third world sweatshops.

And … as for our defense needs. We spend close to 60 percent of our budget on war weapons, we have thousands of bases around the world, an ocean full of nuclear submarines and amazing air power. If we can spend just a little less, just a little, we can deal with education needs, school lunches, a rebuilt road and bridge system and power grid, development of clean energy systems, and environmental preservation and clean-up programs. We can address global warming and its erratic, tragic and economically catastrophic climate events. We can work to save the coral reefs, remove giant dead zones and trash piles in the oceans.

We can do all of these things and still have a full arsenal of conventional and nuclear weapons in our stockpile. It’s not either-or.

And so … do I sound like a liberal democrat yet? No. There are people in the Republican Party who want to work on these things too. I need to encourage my own people to rise above the politics too, help me build a record I can run on next year and we will have four more years to do great things together.

Before closing, I’d like to make some comments about my persona, what you’ve come expect, or see in Don Gold. Who am I? What kind of image have I projected. In my golden past, it was the one that generated the most money — gold, power, class, style, luxury living, all the beautiful women in the world. A brilliant businessman for all the world to see.

Well, that got me the Presidency, and I’ve been stuck with the old me to some degree. I do not take any shit from people. I am tough, combative, that’s part of it. But a lot of people say I should put the old me aside and be a new me. I’ve come to think seriously about it, given that I haven’t been given a minute of peace since I was elected. Can I get some respect with sugar and put away my salt shaker?

And, listen, I didn’t collude with the Russians to get elected. They had all the incentive in the world to do everything in the world to get the Clintons beaten. They are despised in Russia, no matter who would run against them. It happened to be me — and I’m not inclined to demonize this country, but to work with them in economic development projects and quit making them an enemy for no reason.

Some of the people in my campaign got involved inappropriately. You will recall that I fired them quickly, a long time before any indictments came up.

Yes, I also paid money to Stormy Daniels. She asked for it. So did the other woman, Ms. McDougal, with whom I had a satisfying relationship. They asked for money afterwards, I gave it to them. Fine. It didn’t keep them from going public in an effort to generate some more money from somewhere.

And … it wasn’t political. I would have given them money in any case, at any time. I’ve touched women inappropriately in my playboy mold, I love beautiful women, and a few of them come back later looking for pay-offs for moments they enjoyed, or pretended to enjoy. No hassle.

Not too classy to do this, and very much exaggerated — to get the money. So be it. I’m contending with them. No apologies, an unwanted kiss or hug shouldn’t be a federal case, and a media circus.

I am hoping that some of these meaningless, headline-grabbing topics from the old Don Gold won’t gravitate to a new one. How about a clean slate? The new Don Gold wants to become the new Gold Standard of U.S. Presidents. I may need another term but we can do it.

The economy is rolling. America is respected and feared as necessary and we are re-shaping our trade policies to secure a very prosperous future. The deals I will make will put America First.

I am also proposing a Central American strategy conference, to bring together the leaders in Honduras, Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, plus Mexico, to identify and address the overall problems that are leading to this mass exodus of people. If it’s crime, corruption, poverty, drugs, gangs, whatever it is, I want to bring together the powers in these countries to deal with it.

Don: They’re not going to deal with it. All they want is to soak the United States for money.

Vlad: Okay, we’re about to wrap up.

Jones: Finally, my American brothers and sisters, let me just say that this is a great country and I haven’t really damaged it with my pragmatic, no-bullshit point of view. But since the Liberals go aghast every time I make a candid remark, maybe I’ll just tone it down a little. Try to …. keep the Peace. And I wish peace today, and ask you to keep your chin up. Once we beat down all the conspiracy theories and get the Democrats to the table for progress, we’ve got some great days ahead. Onward to 2020 everybody!

Don: Whew! Applause all around.

Vlad: Can we make this work, Don. Get we get on the right side of your voters?

Don: I don’t know, Vlad, a lot to digest. I’m stronger than you know; I know America a little better than you do. I know the America that swept aside the redskins and the Mexicans and built a great country, coast to coast. A lot of voters appreciate that a lot more than government giveaways and a pot full of bureaucrats who just eat up the money. It’s business that matters and I represent business, not restrictive regulations, clamping down on lawful gun owners and allowing the country to become amalgamated with all kinds of people from all kinds of shit world countries. In fact, this is the center that will hold it together. That’s what I put on the hats — Make America Great Again. The people know what I’m talking about. I don’t have to spell it out for them.

Vlad: White supremacy. A massive losing cause.

(A phone rings and the female aide listens, then speaks.)

Aide: The President’s people are here.

Don: To the rescue before you turned me into a flaming, bleeding heart liberal. I’ll think about all this Vlad. We’ll work it out, okay? I’ll be in touch. (Vlad is taciturn.)

Vlad: I wish you well, Don, and …. I want those sanctions removed. Do you understand this?

Don: Of course you do, and I’m working on it but … you see what I’m up against. Thank you, Mr. Jones. That was some really good writing. It sounded great, for somebody anyway. Really a lot of nice words and … sentiments.

Vlad: It would be great if you would listen to me. Two things. You need to run on it — and win, for all of us. And two — Your sanctions need to be removed. Am I clear on this?

Don: Yes, indeed, but I have to get stronger to get this done. May be after the election since our Congress has been invaded by a bunch of mixed-race liberals with their hands out. (turns to Jones) Bernie Sanders, that sounds like your man, Mr. Jones, or Elizabeth the Indian princess. She wants everything for everybody, and no sense of business at all.

Vlad: Goodbye, Donald, we will be in touch. (Gold scurries away with the aides, two American men meeting him at the door. They walk away.)

(The room is silent for a moment. Vladimir stands with Jones and two men in suits. Finally, Jones speaks.)

Jones: Well … I thought we were making all the sense in the world ….

Vlad: Not to a cinder block.

Jones: I don’t have to have all the money. It’s just a disappointment on my part too.

Vlad: Perhaps we could … contract with you. We have interest in a good many elections around the world. You can work for our candidates and I assure you they won’t be as stupid as … the guy you made yourself up to look like. Do you speak any other languages?

Jones: No. I’m not sure we could be very effective for you. The tool that we really use is the English language. Other than that, we’d be lost.

Vlad: Perhaps you could monitor the American elections. We would like to support candidates without such bias against us. We can do business together. But you must allow us to expand our nation as we can. You know we lost a lot when the old Soviet Union, it was called, fell apart. It never should have happened. There was a much better way.

Jones: I …. know so little about Russian politics. I know that we have candidates of all stripes and you could reason with some of them. But, invariably, they support our war industries and they’re always ready for conflict, the more the better. And those same politicians have … what you would expect in a stock portfolio.

Vlad: The stock market (with disdain). The live … stock market. Mooing and braying all day.

Jones: (chuckles) The pompous God of Profit. An absolute ruler in the affairs of man.

Vlad: We can work on a contract. We will support those intelligent, common sense, candidates who can win. You can tell us who they are, and then you can write speeches for them, lay strategies.

Jones: You want sanctions removed then. A friendly attitude toward Russia. You don’t want to be demonized because you are a strong one-party government that doesn’t tolerate any opposition.

Vlad: It is none of your business, really. We have order; you have chaos. We have unity; you have conflict. And we would be doing well economically but for your Yankee … machinations.

Jones: But … you have spies everywhere, right? And we have spies watching you. Why is that?

Vlad: We don’t trust each other. Do you trust Don Gold, I don’t. The sunavabitch might say or do anything because he’s running things out of his gut and the seat of his baggy pants.

Jones: But you said that you had been working together for many years. Now … that’s all changed?

Vlad: He was okay as a businessman. He needed us and he could be controlled. He doesn’t need us any more, or so he believes. He can’t be friendly with us because he must cater to his … hate mongering base. He clings to them like a worthless security blanket. They wave Nazi flags and hate ours. He relishes it when they get together in a ludicrous mass to sing his praises and further bloat his jaundiced ego.

Jones: You have a way with words too, Sir. He will lose, of course.

Vlad: And who will win?

Jones: Call him …. or her … ABG …. Anybody but Gold.

Vlad: I believe we can work together somehow and maybe we can fix Chicago while we’re at it.

Jones: I can’t really work for you, or with you. One word gets out about it? My business is ruined. You understand, I’m an American guy. I need to work back home.

(One of the men responds to a soft knock on the door. He opens it slightly. It holds the room’s attention. He takes a cellphone and brings it forward to Vladimir.

Aide: It’s President Trump, from Air Force One. (Vladimir takes the phone.)

Vlad: Donald … (he listens intently) Yes, we can get that for you. But I thought you didn’t …. yes, I understand. It’s a good marketing agency. They do have a way with words and they do seem to understand the issues very well …. Chicago, yes …. Yes …. Of course we are in Chicago. We have a large mansion just outside the city with a big fence around it, and guard dogs …. yes … Dobermans … We like Chicago, it’s big and anonymous ….yes, I know about the crime, too many Democrats I’m sure …. I agree, he is a sunavabitch, used to work for Obama as I recall … I’m sure it’s all his fault, Al Capone has been dead a long time …well, certainly I’m joking … yes, goodbye Donald.

(Vladimir hangs up the phone. They sit in silence for a moment.)

Vlad: (looks to Jones) He wants to hire you. No matter what you actually said, you really have a way with words — and that’s really what matters. He said … he can tell you what to write and then he can clean it up a bit if it needs it.

(Jones mulls, rubs his scalp, shakes his head.)

Vlad: (smirks) How generous … his offer of help. And a job in the White House … although I hear the color is now beige and rapidly changing to … shit brown.

Jones: Funny, I think we should offer you a job — except you already have one.

Vlad: And so do you. You can stay a few months, through the impeachment, and write a book. What do you call it? A best seller.

Jones: I can help re-arrange the deck chairs, on the Titanic.

(The characters stare at each other as the stage goes dark.)

(From Ascending Apocalypse: A New Birth for Mankind, by Jim Cleveland, on Amazon.)

Jim Cleveland retired from a career in public relations to become a writer and publisher. He has 16 books and 12 CDs anchored in new spirituality values.

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