Welcome, everyone, to the unprecedented and highly-anticipated fourth presidential debate. This is being televised all over the world from a studio lot in Hollywood, and I am your host, Michael. From now on I will simply be known as The Super Moderator, or Supermod for short.
Why Hollywood as the site of this gimungous event? It's a different setting for a different type of debate. We'll be relying on props from movies (Princess Bride) and TV Shows (Fear Factor) to introduce higher stakes for this discussion. It's time for the candidates to put some skin in the game.
I will be asking serious questions of our candidates. If they hem, haw, fudge, doublespeak, lie, or just give me an answer I find unsatisfactory, they will pay a price. The price goes up as the offenses are repeated. Let us begin.
Supermod: Senator Obama, Senator McCain. Glad to have you here. It's about time we get some real answers. Let's start on the economy, as that seems to be the hottest issue in this election right now.
McCain: People are hurting and they're angry, and I don't blame them.
Supermod: Did I ask you a question?
Supermod: Then shuttie.
Supermod: Laugh now, while you can. Here comes the first question. Senator Obama, you've regularly stated that your economic training and background exceed that of your opponent. You claim to be the better choice for economic leadership. Yet your proposed budget adds more than $250 billion to the deficit in 2009, and that's before the recent bailout bills. Why more deficits?
Obama: Well, first I'd like to thank Hollywood for hosting us...
Supermod: Zap him.
(Senator Obama receives an electric shock. A mild one.)
Supermod: In the future I suggest you get right to answering the question. You lose your turn. Senator McCain, you've been drilling (haha) your opponent in the media and at rallies for "spreading the wealth", and saying that his progressive tax plan is socialist at heart, is that correct? Again, I suggest you stick to clear and simple answers.
McCain: Yes, that's correct.
Supermod: Do you realize our tax system has been progressive since 1913, under both Republicans and Democrats? And that 40% of Americans today pay no income taxes? And that the top 5% of American earners pay half the income tax in this country, under Republican-generated tax plans? It's already as socialist as anything your opponent would like to propose. So I ask you, is it time for the flat sales tax, so that everybody pays according to consumption and we can eliminate the IRS for good?
McCain: No that wouldn't be fair.
Supermod: Ah I see. This year 40% of Americans aren't paying income taxes, yet they receive benefits from other taxpayers. Isn't that "spreading the wealth"?
McCain: No, this is different. I...
Supermod (interrupting): Bull. Fezzik, jog his memory.
(Andre the Giant returns from the dead and gently nudges McCain's skull, sending him to the floor, unconscious)
Supermod: Well, then... Senator Obama, I guess it's your turn again. How about we switch topics?
Obama (twitching): I'm agreeable to that.
Supermod: Let's talk campaign financing. I heard you raised $150 million in September -- congratulations. Why did you go against your earlier promise to use public financing, with its $85 million total limit? I remind you that the electric shock was merely the beginning... it gets worse from here.
Obama: Well... I changed my mind once I realized how much more money we could raise privately.
Supermod: Honesty! Thank you, Senator. This is an epic moment. Now let's take it a step further. You're the candidate for middle-class America, right?
Obama: That is correct.
Supermod: You care most about the average family in need, right? Not those big corporations and lobbyists?
Obama: Absolutely. I want to help the foundation of our great country -- our families.
Supermod: Excellent. So how much of your $150 million will you be donating to food banks, job placement centers and The Salvation Army? $20 million? $50 million? You could give away $100 million and still outspend your opponent over the next three weeks.
Obama: That's an incredible question, and one I'm honored to answer. It's a complex issue, and there are at least two ways to address it. To begin, I'd like to point out that the notion that somehow my campaign does not care...
Supermod (interrupting): The notion that somehow you'll give away a single dollar of this money strikes me as unlikely. The notion that you personally gave less than 3% of you annual earnings to charity until two years ago when your candidacy became more than dream... well, that's not a notion. That's just fact. Roaches.
Obama: Excuse me?
Supermod: I wasn't talking to you. Lackeys! Bring the roaches. The hissing ones.
(A bucketfull of Madagascar hissing cockroaches is dumped on Senator Obama's head)
Supermod: McCain, you awake yet?
Supermod: Close enough. You ready to talk about energy policy?
McCain: Nothing but straight talk here.
Supermod: Yeah, so far it's been as straight as Richard Simmons on disco night. We'll try anyway. "Drill, baby, drill" continues to be a chant at many of your rallies. Yet even the most optimistic forecasts calculate that we can only add 25% to our current production by tapping all available oil discoveries on our soil. And this extra 25% goes to the world market, where it only makes a 3% impact. So at most our gas prices drop 3%, right?
McCain (angry): Maybe.
Supermod: (raises eyebrows)
McCain: Yes. But you're still not accounting for shale oil.
Supermod: Shale oil?
McCain: Yes, shale oil! We have the biggest deposits on the entire planet! Have you heard about that!
Supermod: Of course I have. I didn't ask "shale oil?" because I didn't know about it. I asked because it's a dumb idea and I hoped you'd do better than this.
Supermod: It's devastating to the environment, it's extremely messy, the resulting oil product is often high in arsenic content, and at the end of the day we're still burning fossil fuels and filling the air with crap. We can spend a few hundred billion in building a shale oil economy to complement our crude oil economy, or we can spend a few hundred billion and get close to moving off oil altogether. Which do you want to do?
McCain: It's a false choice. We can do it all, and at the same time too -- we're Americans!
Supermod: That's enough. Back to you later. Senator Obama, how you doing with those roaches?
Obama: I come from a humble background; I'm no elitist. I can handle roaches.
Supermod: Oh, so you're the guy to connect with lower-income America?
Obama: Certainly. That's my heritage.
Supermod: Excellent. That's going to come in handy for you tonight. We're going to get you up in an airplane, strap a parachute to you, and let you jump down into one of the most pro-Obama regions in the nation. It will be a good example of how you can identify with our soldiers, even though you have no military experience.
Obama: (Sweating). Very well. But what does that have to do with lower-income America?
Supermod: We'll be dropping you into downtown Detroit. Good luck.
Obama: WAIT! I...
(Senator Obama is secured by Jerry Springer bouncers and loaded into a waiting SUV for his adventure)
McCain: (Nervously) ...So I can go?
Supermod: You betcha. In fact, we're going to drop you at one of your own rallies in a solid "Pro-America" small town. Just your type of crowd. Heh. Hehe.
McCain: C'mon... what's the catch?
Supermod: You'll be going there as a black man.
(More bouncers grab Senator McCain and begin the skin transformation process)
Supermod: Thank you, America, for tuning in. Both of our candidates will get to spend the next several hours learning some empathy for the other side, as they experience the darker sides of their own constituents. You see, we all have problems. Republican, Democrat, Libertarian... there's no perfect party, no perfect solution. So whichever side you're on in this election, remember that neither your candidates nor your policy ideas are all good. And the opponents aren't all bad.
In four years, your life may be slightly different due to which candidate gets elected. Either man may be able to shape laws and policies to impact your day-to-day existence. But those impacts pale in comparison to what you do to shape your life over the next four years.
You hope for change? You hope for better days? You hope for enriched family life?
Don't hope. Choose.