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Off the Table: A Farce in One Act

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By David Swanson

Stage set: a dining room at left, an office at right

A woman enters the office where the phone is ringing. She answers it.

NP: Hello? Why do you ask? Yes, I'm sure. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Impeachment is off the table. Now let me tell you about some new legislative proposals that I think you're really going to like. I'll give you what we're going to pass in the first hundred seconds and in the first hundred months. Which one do you want first? Let's start with...

The woman's voice lowers but continues as lights go up in the dining room, where we see a cat jump off the table and wander into the office where the woman is hanging up the phone.

NP: Where were you sweetie? Was I ignoring you? Come here kitty kitty. I didn't mean to ignore you.

The phone rings. The cat leaves.

NP: Hello? Yes, this is Nancy Pelosi. Yes, I know, but an investigation investigates. It doesn't impeach. I've said it before and I'll say it again Will you excuse me a second?

Nancy gets up and walks to door of dining room, where cat is sprawled on the table.

NP: Impeachment! Get off the table! Now!

The cat flees.

NP: I'm sorry. No. No. It was some, um. There were some stem cells, I mean a doctor about some stem Dennis Hastert? Why would anyone want to clone Dennis Hastert? I don't follow. Listen, impeachment is off the table. I assure you. Because we've been given a mandate to effect change and...

Nancy's voice lowers and drones on as a bloody corpse enters the dining room and collapses on the table with a groan. Blood drips audibly onto the floor.

NP: ...so those children will be covered with a low adjustible deductible payment during the first three years without illnesses. Can you excuse me a moment?

Nancy looks into dining room. Unfazed, she returns to phone, just as someone knocks at her office door.

NP: Hello? Yes, I'm going to need to call you back. Yes, off the table. That's a pledge. That's a blood oath, a pledge. Yes.

Nancy opens the door to greet two men with a television camera and a microphone.

Media: Are we on time?

NP: Yes, yes, come on in. Let me just get some notes. Have a seat.

Nancy goes into the office and closes the door behind her. She drags the corpse off the table, thumping its head on a chair and the floor, splattering blood everywhere, and shuts the corpse in a closet where we see that there are already several others. Nancy returns to the office.

NP: I'm sorry to keep you waiting. Why don't we go into the other room where there's more room? Let me get my papers. These are just a few of the bills we're going to pass in the first hundred legislative minutes...

Nancy picks up a three-foot-high stack of papers and carries it into the dining room with the camera crew behind her. Nancy lays the papers out on the table, especially where the blood is. She puts some on the chairs and floor where the blood is. The paper soaks up the blood.

Media: May we begin filming?

NP: Yes, of course.

Media: Congresswoman Pelosi, on November 7th your home town of San Francisco was one of the cities where voters approved resolutions calling on Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney. There are those here in Washington concerned that, being from San Francisco, you might support gay marriage, thereby lowering the supply of unmarried young men in need of drudge work to build their political resumes, which... I mean, let me rephrase that to be more clear. There are concerns that you might be influenced by the people who live in your district who want impeachment.

NP: That's absurd. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Impeachment is off the table. And when I say off the table...

A naked man of Arab descent walks in and climbs onto the table on hands and knees.

NP:...I mean that we will be conducting investigations into a number of issue and policy areas, but an investigation is not an impeachment commission.

Six more naked men follow and they form a pyramid atop the table.

Media: With all due respect, I know that you've stated that position, but given the abundant, I mean the almost unavoidable fact that you are from San Francisco and do have the voting record of a terrorist-loving America-hating liberal radical, can you assure us that you will never ever pusure impeachment, for example around the sort of issues addressed by the Military Commissions Act?

Three men in dark suits, sunglasses, and ear microphones enter the office and begin setting up small cameras, searching through computers and drawers and a purse, planting recording devices on the phones, etc...

NP: I can promise you no articles of impeachment, no investigation into impeachment, and no reprieve for the enemies of freedom.

Media: Yes, but if you have an investigation and if for some reason that investigation is allowed to proceed to the point of, say...

The men in suits come into the dining room where they attach electronic devices to the naked men on the table.

Media: ...of, say, questioning the President's authority in time of war to create terrorism surveillance programs that don't comply with a 30-year-old law...

The men in suits administer electric shocks to the naked men who scream in agony. The men in suits leave.

Media: I mean, in a sense, with Secretary Rumsfeld already having resigned isn't it the Democrats' turn to make a concession in the interests of the sort of bipartisan civility and cooperation that the voters showed they wanted last week?

NP: Yes, of course.

The naked men continue to scream and to fall off the table, dead.

Media: For some reason I continue to have the impression that you will not be able to avoid impeachment. Can you assure us that it is off the table?

NP: I've said it before and I'll say it again. Impeachment is off the table.

Cameramen leave. Nancy begins dragging new corpses to the closet.
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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)

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