Dubya’s afterlife

Decisions, decisions!

An email that’s going around:

George W. Bush has a second Segway accident, this one fatal.

His soul arrives in heaven and he is met by St. Peter at the Pearly gates.

“Welcome to Heaven,” says St. Peter.

“Glad I made it,” says the President.

“There’s no question of ‘making it,’ ” says the Keeper of the Keys. “We gave up that ‘sheep and goats’ stuff aeons ago. Now it’s a matter of choice. Each soul spends one day in Hell and one day in Heaven, and then chooses where to exist for eternity.” ‘

“But, I’ve already made up my mind,” says GWB. I want to be in Heaven.”

“Perhaps you should learn to make decisions after gathering information rather than before,” says St. Peter. “In any case, those are the rules.” And with that, St. Peter escorts him to an elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a lush golf course; the sun is shining in a cloudless sky, the temperature a perfect 72 degrees, with a gentle breeze. In the distance is a beautiful clubhouse. Standing in front of it he sees all the people who helped him out over the years — Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, Jerry Falwell, Ken Lay — everyone laughing, happy, casually but expensively dressed.

They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had getting rich at expense of all the “suckers and peasants”. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar.

During dinner, a big banner drops from the ceiling, bearing the words “Welcome, 43! Mission accomplished.” His friends kid him, asking him whether he intends to search Hell for the weapons of mass destruction he never found in Iraq.

The Devil himself comes up to Bush with a frosty drink, “Have a Margarita and relax, Dubya!”

“Uh, I can’t drink no more, I took a pledge,” says Junior, dejectedly. Satan replies, “Why, this is Hell, son: we believe in laissz-faire and supply-side economics. This is the place where no choice has any consequence. You can drink and eat all you want and not worry! “

Dubya takes the drink and finds himself liking the Devil, who he thinks is a really very friendly guy, who tells funny jokes and pulls hilarious nasty pranks worthy of a Bonesman. Dubya gives Lucifer a some nicknames, calling him “Lucy” and “Your Lowness,” and the Devil loves it. They are having such a great time that, before W realizes it, it’s time to go.

Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Bush steps on the elevator and heads upward.

When the elevator door reopens, he is in Heaven again and St. Peter is waiting for him. “Now it’s time to visit Heaven,” says the Apostle, opening the gate.

So for 24 hours Bush is made to hang out with a bunch of honest, good-natured people who enjoy each other’s company, talk about things other than money, and treat each other decently. Not a nasty prank or frat boy joke among them. There aren’t any fancy country clubs. The food tastes great, but it’s rather plain; no caviar or lobster.

Naturally — what with the camel-and-needle’s-eye problem and all — most of the people are poor; Dubya doesn’t see anybody he knows, and he isn’t even treated like someone special! Worst of all, to Dubya, Jesus turns out to be some kind of Jewish hippie, ranting endlessly about ‘peace’ and ‘do unto others’ and ‘turn the other cheek’ and suchlike liberal nonsense.

“Whoa,” he says uncomfortably to himself, “Pat Robertson never prepared me for this!”

The day done, St. Peter returns and says, “Well, then, you’ve spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now choose where you want to live for eternity.”

With the Jeopardy theme playing softly in the background, Dubya reflects for a minute, thinking much harder than he did while signing all those death warrants. Then he answers: “Well, I would never have thought I’d say this — I mean, Heaven has been delightful and all — but I really think I belong

in Hell with my friends.”

Saint Peter smiles rather sadly and escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell.

The doors of the elevator open and Bush is in the middle of a barren scorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial waste, the air foul with pollution, kind of like Houston. He is horrified to see all of his friends, dressed in rags and chained together, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags under the eyes of horrible-looking demons with pitchforks and whips. They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime and shiny with burns.

He starts asking about why things are so terrible, but his fellow inmates warn him not to complain, lest he face extraordinary rendition.

(He is informed that the Devil’s Office of Legal Counsel is run by Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, and that they have issued an opinion holding that tossing someone into a lake of fire isn’t actually known to be painful, because the only testimony to that effect comes from people who have been through it themselves, and are therefore interested parties and unreliable witnesses and who no doubt deserved it anyway. Moreover, it is the position of the DOLC that that voluntary damnation renders the Geneva conventions inapplicable as well as quaint. Dubya is also told that a recent opinion in the Low Court dismissing an unlawful-conditions-of-eternal-punishment case (Justice Thomas writing for the majority) cited the legal maxim Volenti non fit injuria in support of this point.)

The Devil comes over to the President with a mean smirk and puts an arm around his shoulder. “Why, if it isn’t my old friend and faithful servant Dubya!”, he says, as the heat from his hand inflicts second-degree burns. “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you again. We have so much to talk about.”

“But — but — I don’t understand,” stammers a shocked Dubya between shrieks of pain. “Yesterday –“

Satan interrupts with an evil laugh: “Yesterday? Yesterday was the campaign.”

Yes, I’ve heard versions of this before: Bill Gates is told that yesterday was the demo. The managing partner of a law firm is told that it was the summer associate program. The advertising exec is told that it was the commercial. The stock promoter is told that it was the pro forma. The professor is told, “Yesterday you were a distinguished visitor; today you’re a colleague.”

Still, we have a long three-and-a-half years to go, and I have a feeling we’re going to need all the laughs we can get.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com