Dateline: March 26, 2011

The following scene presumes – heaven forfend – that Mark Dayton wins the election.

SCENE:  Office of Governor Mark Dayton.  Dayton is sitting in his chair, idly twirling a nut back and forth on a bolt.

DAYTON: (Continues to twirl bolt for about five minutes, back and forth and back and forth…)

(Esme Murphy – the Governor’s communications director – bursts into the room)

MURPHY – Sir, we have a problem.

DAYTON:  Is it time for you to paint my toenails again?

MURPHY: No, sir, that was only during interviews during the campaign.  We have a serious problem here.

DAYTON: (stares into distance, idly spinning nut on bolt) Oh.

MURPHY: The House Republicans have blocked your budget proposal.

DAYTON: (looks up from nut and bolt, looks wordlessly toward Murphy without really focusing)

MURPHY: Sir, this is a bit of a political emergency.

DAYTON: (Focuses, just a bit)

MURPHY: Shall I summon your advisers, sir?

DAYTON: (Nods.  Maybe.  Kinda.)

MURPHY (leaves room)

DAYTON: (goes back to idly spinning nut on bolt)

Three minutes pass.  Then Murphy re-enters, with Secretary of State Ritchie, House Minority Leader Rukavina, Senate Minority Leader Marty, Budget Director Denise Cardinal, and Representative Phyllis Kahn.  Chief of Staff Mike Hatch enters last, as Murphy starts to speak.

MURPHY: The rest will be here shortly; Rachel Stassen-Berger is working with a photographer on making them better-looking on camera.

(Group assembles in front of DAYTON’s desk)

MURPHY: So the situation is this; the House Republicans have blocked…

HATCH: Shut up.  (Murphy falls instantly silent) The House Republicans have blocked your budget proposal, “Governor” (HATCH coughs theatrically as he makes the scare quotes with his fingers in the air; a little glob of spittle flies through the air and lands on…) Dayton.  First things first; the Republicans should never have taken the House or Senate back.  We know whose fault that is, don’t we?

(Hatch turns to Ritchie, who visibly flinches)

HATCH: Assume the position.

(Richie falls limply to his knees)

HATCH: Lori!

(Swanson places a ball gag in Richie’s mouth, ties it securely around Richie’s face, and pushes him, face down, to the ground.  Swanson then stands on Richie’s back)

HATCH: With that out of the way – this is an emergency, “Governor”.  Even the DFLers that survived last November are rebelling, calling your tax bill “suicide”, and still we are six billion dollars short…

TOM DOOHER: (the head of the Minnesota Teachers’ Union enters, speaking) That’s Nine Billion, Governor (he says, looking at Hatch).

HATCH: Right, nine billion dollars short.

JAVIER MORILLO: (representative of SEIU enters, speaking) ELEVEN billion, Governor

HATCH: Right, eleven billion dollars short… (Hatch, Murphy and the rest stare at the door for a moment before continuing)  …for now.  We need to come up with a plan, and we need it NOW.  (He gestures at Swanson, who grinds a stiletto heel in the small of Richie’s back, as Richie squirms in pain)

DAYTON: We shall…

(twirls nut)


DAYTON: …sell another Renoir.

HATCH: Good idea, sir, but a Renoir is worth a few million; we would need about a thousand of them…

CARDINAL: Actually, five thousand five hundred of them at current sale prices

HATCH: (spins on heels, pulling a dagger from under his jacket, screams hysterically) SHUT UP! IF I WANT YOUR OPINION I WILL GRANT YOU THE RIGHT TO HAVE ONE!.   (Cardinal flinches)  I WILL RIP OFF YOUR HEAD AND CRAP DOWN YOUR THROAT.  DO YOU READ ME?  (Cardinal nods, meekly)

HATCH: Yes, sir, five thousand-odd Renoirs to close the budget gap…

DOOHER: Er, that’s gonna be six thousand.

HATCH: Six thousand Renoirs to close the gap.

DAYTON: (Nods, twirling the nut on the bolt)

HATCH: Sooooo, we need a political solution.  Marty! (John Marty snaps to attention) Throw a party for the GOP caucuses in both chambers.  Open bar!  And then have the Highway Patrol waiting for them!  We’ll catch ’em all driving drunk!  Hah!

SWANSON: Already tried that, sir.  Didn’t work.

DAYTON: (idly spins nut on the bolt as head bobbles idly back and forth)

HATCH: (pounds hand on Dayton’s desk) DAMMIT! Maybe we should get photoshopped pictures of all of them in a bathroom stall at the airport.

KAHN: Seems a bit implausible, sir.

DAYTON: (puts bare right foot up on the desk)  My toenail needs painting.  Esme?

MURPHY: No, sir, not now…

DAYTON: Oooh.  Then I’ll get Keri Miller to do it.

MURPHY: (sighs). I’ll put in a call, sir. But we have to figure out this eleven-billion dollar gap…

DOOHER: Thirteen billion dollars.

MURPHY: …this thirteen billion dollar gap first, sir.

DAYTON: (nut falls off bolt).

(Room falls silent)

DAYTON: Close the office.  I’m going to Vail.

HATCH: “Governor” (makes scare quotes with fingers), we can’t “close the office” (makes scare quotes with fingers).  You have to “Make a decision” (makes scare quotes with fingers).

DAYTON:  (Puts head down on desk)

HATCH:  Oh, christ.  OK, get him outta here.  (Marty and Kahn carry Dayton from room as Hatch continues with scarcely a pause). OK, Murphy?  Start the new ad campaign; “Minnesota – where everybody’s rich!”  Bill it to Alita. Again.  And Tom? (Rukavina snaps to attention)  Submit a bill that’ll increase taxes on “the rich” to 15%.   Lori?  Put out a release saying we’re investigating – er, you’re investigating Majority Leader Zellers for witchcraft.  Let’s move, people!

(Group exits, leaving Richie face-down on the floor, whimpering)

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Now, I believe, as I have since May, that Tom Emmer is going to win by three.  But just in case people are undecided, the above qualifies as “fiction” only because it hasn’t happened yet.

16 thoughts on “Dateline: March 26, 2011

  1. Very good. You have to wonder….did future Mitch build a time machine, and come back from March 2011 to Oct 2010 to tell a true story of what will happen unless we change the future? This story seems just a little tooooo realistic.

  2. Patiently awaiting a stern rebuke from Flash

    That and Penigma’s inevitable “if you can’t provide a tape of that conversation, then you are a liar”…

  3. That and Penigma’s inevitable “if you can’t provide a tape of that conversation, then you are a liar”…

    And/or a 3,762-word DG treatise concerning something she read about James O’Keefe.

  4. It’s encouraging, Mitch, to see your literary license is still valid. The sarcasm and imagery is a little too vivid for me. It’s existentialist, yet unsatisfying to my cloying palette. It really reminds me of the Blazing Saddles scene where the governor hands out paddles in lieu of pay.

    The only thing missing is having them say “Harumph!”

  5. And the other parents at my daughter’s cheerleading class are looking at me wondering what is causing me to giggle so much.

  6. Maybe you can give Mark some ball bearings to roll, like Captain Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny.”

  7. They are all witches, Disco Stooj.
    “What happened to our future? It was in my pocket a minute ago . . .”

  8. “leaving Richie face-down on the floor, whimpering”

    Love the thought, sounds like cause for celebration to me!

  9. HATCH: Assume the position.

    (Richie falls limply to his knees)


    Oh, man. That had every opportunity to go terribly wrong, but you pulled it off.

    For a minute there I thought you were channeling Senator* Scumbag.

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