The trees in my Great Falls, Virginia neighborhood offered more evidence (admittedly anecdotal) this week that global warming is real. When they turn color in the fall depends on both the light cycle and temperature, naturally, and while the decreasing length of the daylight periods at this latitude during the fall season hasn’t changed in many millennia, the average fall temperature certainly has, and recently enough that anyone who cares to notice can see that peak autumn color is occurring later and later in the year. It was just last Tuesday, for example, that the native maples finally blazed out, towering bright yellow harbingers of winter. That used to happen around here in mid October; not anymore, though.
There’s something else I sense in the autumn zeitgeist, too – the deer are considerably more shy than in the past. While in the autumns of previous years, they strode nonchalantly out of the woods bordering my back yard to lie down on the grass and bask in the sun like large, elegant lawn ornaments, this year, they linger in the shadows, peeking out warily from the forest, apparently reluctant to venture into the open, into the light. Did they somehow find out that idiot humans who wouldn’t wear masks or get vaccinated have succeeded in giving white-tail deer COVID-19, and then figure out that means other humans, morbidly obsessed with wearing masks and vaccination, are now terrified of them? No, I guess not – how could they? More likely, they can sense that, for some reason incomprehensible to their innocent cervid minds, humans now fear them, as they no doubt have observed how the humans around here fear the raccoons, foxes and coyotes that occasionally stroll out of the woods onto their decks, driveways and streets. Those animals have the undeserved stigma of rabies about them, of course – now the deer have their own mark of plague that sends the humans scurrying away in fright, calling for Animal Control to send somebody to come and murder them, and quickly, please. Or perhaps the county bow hunters have already begun the slaughter, and the deer, having witnessed their kin’s eradication, are newly terrified of humans. More proof, I suppose, as if any were needed, that the most common things in the universe are dark energy, dark matter, hydrogen, stupidity, ignorance, greed, lust for power, dishonesty, cruelty, hypocrisy and helium. All the rest is just a rounding error.
These were the ruminations from which I was aroused this idyllic fall Sunday when my land line rang and Caller ID showed a number I recognized as one associated with Representative Paul Gosar, D.D.S. (R – Arizona).
Gosar: Tom Collins?
Tom: Affirmative, Representative Gosar.
Gosar: Look, um, I got your number from Rand Paul, and he said…
Tom: Yes, sir, you may have an initial consultation free of charge, and, as I am alone at home with nothing pressing to do on this lovely afternoon, we can have it now.
Gosar: Oh, okay, that’s great, because frankly, your rates…
Tom: My regular clients must be getting what they pay for, sir, or they wouldn’t come back. And frankly, I find my free initial consultations to be very amusing.
Tom: Invariably. What’s your problem?
Gosar: Well, uh, okay then… is this line… secure?
Tom: It’s a land line and I have it swept for taps once a week.
Gosar: So… it’s clean?
Tom: As of Friday, anyway.
Gosar: And our conversation?
Tom: As secure as any of my other consultations.
Gosar: Okay, great.
Tom: So what’s your problem?
Gosar: I’m being persecuted for having a sense of humor.
Tom: Really? How so?
Gosar: You mean, you don’t know?
Tom: In that case, then, I suppose you’re referring to the recent incident where you sent out a tweet with an anime that depicted you killing your colleague, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Representative of the fourteenth congressional district of New York, and then attacking President Biden, which resulted in you becoming the first member of the House to be censured in half a century, and only the twenty-fourth to be censured in the entire history of the United States.
Gosar: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about – these left-wing socialist Democrats like AOC and Nancy Pelosi can’t take a joke!
Tom: Well, sir, I seriously doubt that President Biden could be described as a left-wing socialist, and by most accounts, he wasn’t very amused, either.
Gosar: Is that my fault? Geezy-Peezy, gimme a break! That video was just a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy!
Tom: So why does it depict you decapitating Ms. Ocasio-Cortez?
Gosar: It was like, a metaphor, you know? In the anime, she represents the plague of illegal immigration and stuff like that. The whole thing is totally unfair! Look in the papers – there’s plenty of political cartoons showing people getting run over by opponents’ steamroller campaigns and crushed by falling polls and buried under landslide election results and so forth.
Tom: Maybe, but those cartoons aren’t drawn by members of Congress. You are, I presume, aware of the fact that there have been previous incidents of actual violence in Congress, such as when Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina attacked Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the floor of the Senate and nearly killed him.
Gosar: An isolated incident, wouldn’t you say?
Tom: Hardly. There have been many others, including an out-and-out brawl in the House during debate of the Kansas territorial constitution. Between 1830 and 1860, there were more than eighty acts of physical violence among members of Congress.
Gosar: So what? Like you just said, that happened a long time ago, before the Civil War!
Tom: Sir, in order to correctly understand the last two hundred years of United States history, it is, first of all, necessary to realize that the Civil War neither began in 1861 nor did it end in 1865.
Gosar: Oh, yeah?
Tom: Yeah. The US Civil War started with the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and it has, in fact, never ended. The physical violence has ebbed and flowed for the last two centuries, but it has always been there. Which, in my estimation, is why your colleagues in the House were so concerned about your depictions of the murder of another Representative and a threat to the life of the President.
Gosar: But it was just a joke! It was… uh… an allegory, yeah, that’s it… that’s the ticket… it was a humorous political allegory!
Tom: If that’s your explanation, can you tell me what’s so funny about decapitations?
Gosar: Well, they’re certainly nothing to lose your head over! Hey, look, I don’t espouse violence toward anyone! It was just a cartoon! And there is no threat in that cartoon, other than the threat that immigration poses to our country! And no threat was intended by my staff or me! It’s no secret that I love anime! I even speak Japanese! And I like cartoons! So what? Lots of people like cartoons! Do you like cartoons?
Tom: Sir, in response, I would note that, until 1970, in the Commonwealth of Virginia expressing an affinity for, or approval of cartoons was considered an element to be considered toward commitment to the state as a feeble-minded person.
Gosar: Look, I’m not sure why anyone is freaking out. I’ll say this: there are millions of conservatives. They believe in America First. We will not let the left dictate our strategy, and if they can’t take a joke, that’s their problem! I won my district in 2018 with sixty-eight percent of the vote, and I’m not going anywhere! The whole thing is based on a false narrative. In reality, I’m right up there with Alexander Hamilton, the first person to be censured by the House!
Tom: In reality, Alexander Hamilton was not censured by the House. In reality, sir, the vote to do so failed.
Gosar: Technicalities! Tell me how I can spin this situation so I get my committee appointments back!
Tom: So you want your seats back on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee?
Gosar: Well, uh… because… because they were taken away from me unfairly! How about that for a reason?
Tom: Not because you are getting money from interests that want to continue and expand spam robotexting of unsuspecting consumers?
Gosar: No, no, of course not!
Tom: And certainly not because you’re getting under-the-table kickbacks from Russian mafia ransomware operators?
Gosar: No! No way, Jose!
Tom: And most definitely not because you’re in the pocket of big coal and oil interests who use politicians like you to thwart desperately needed efforts to fight the disastrous consequences of climate change due to global warming cause by burning fossil fuels?
Gosar: Absolutely not!
Tom: And there’s not even the slightest possibility that you’re in cahoots with big money conservatives who want to reverse the Biden administration’s progressive policies concerning public lands in the West, is there?
Gosar: Not just no – hell no! What are you getting at, anyhow?
Tom: I’m just joking, sir.
Gosar: Joking! You think the suggestion that the reason I wanted to be on those committees in the first place was do the bidding of criminals, scam artists and big special interests in return for money is… funny?
Gosar: Well, I don’t!
Tom: What’s the matter, Congressman, can’t you take a joke?
Gosar: Hmph! Alright, maybe I can. Enough levity, then. Can you tell me how to get my committee appointments back?
Tom: I’ll do better than that. I’ll tell you how to not only be re-appointed to those two committees, but how to get appointed chairman of both. Plus get appointed chairman of any other congressional committees you want. Maybe even… more.
Gosar: Really? How?
Tom: Go visit Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach and tell him that you will lead the effort to get him elected Speaker of the House after the Republicans take it back from the Democrats in 2022.
Gosar: What? And stab Kevin McCarthy in the back? In an allegorical sense, I mean.
Tom: Yes. Stab Kevin McCarthy in the back like he is Julius Caesar and you are Brutus – metaphorically speaking. The one thing Trump likes even better than obsequious displays of lick-spittle loyalty is watching someone betray somebody else for his benefit.
Gosar: So, you’re saying, no obsequious lick-spittle displays of loyalty? ‘Cause he loves that when I do that, you know.
Tom: Oh, no, no, no… lay on the obsequious lick-spittle display of loyalty as thick as usual, if not more. Just follow up with a pledge to stab Kevin McCarthy in the back – as a perhaps catachrestic simile, naturally, and, it goes without saying, by no means in any conceivable, literal sense whatsoever – and take my word for it, you will win Donald Trump’s dark, cold and evil heart. And when he becomes Speaker of the House, Congress will be your oyster. He could even endorse your run for Kyrsten Sinema’s Senate seat in 2026. As a matter of fact, if you act now, and show him you’re working diligently to make sure he’s the next Speaker, Trump might even endorse you to run against Mark Kelly for his Arizona Senate seat, which would mean that by January 2023, you’d be Senator Gosar.
Gosar: But… what about McCarthy? He’s not likely to take this lying down, you know.
Tom: Well, as the Romans used to say, fortis fortuna adiuvat.
Tom: “Fortune favors the brave.” And you’re a big, brave patriot aren’t you?
Gosar: You bet! And I have a sense of humor!
Tom: And you can take a joke.
Gosar: I sure can! ‘Cause I’m a real man, not some woke, whiny, wussy communist from New York City!
Tom: Very well then, sir. Do your duty to the American people!
Gosar: I’ll have to give it some thought, of course.
Tom: As you should. Have a nice day.
Gosar: Maybe I will! Good bye!