Environmentalism in action:
    A recycled joke

I’ve heard versions of this about lawyers, software designers, and academics, but I thought this latest variation was pretty good.

Your mileage may vary.

While walking down the street one day, GWB encounters someone who believes in exercising his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The next thing he knows, he’s at the Pearly Gates, facing St. Peter.

“Well,” says W. a little nervously — he’s thinking about the South Carolina primary and Harken Oil, among other things — “did I make it?” He gives that sick smirk we all know and love. “After all, I’m a believer.”

St. Peter smiles kindly. “Oh, there’s no question of ‘making it.’ All that sheep-and-goats stuff is just poetry. Whether you spend eternity in Heaven or in Hell is entirely up to your choice.”

“Great!” says W., with not a little relief. “I’ll take Heaven.”

“Not so fast,” says St. Peter. “After all, this is the most important decision of your — well, I can’t say ‘Of your life,’ anymore, now can I? — let’s just say the most important decision you will ever make. How can you know whether Heaven or Hell suits you better until you’ve spent a day in each?”

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

“I’m sorry, but we have our rules. Don’t worry: I don’t think you’ll find a day in Hell nearly as bad as you’ve heard.” 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 at the first green of a perfectly manicured golf course. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky, the temperature a perfect 72 degrees. In the distance is a beautiful clubhouse. Standing in front of it his dad…and thousands of other people who had helped him out over the years: Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Jerry Falwell, friends from Yale, friends from the oil business, …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 the “suckers and peasants”. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar.

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

“Uh, I’d better not,” says W.

“This is Hell, son: you can drink and eat all you want and not worry, and it just gets better from there!” 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, kind of like a Skull and Bones brother with real horns. Satan explains his policy of “compassionate damnation,” and GWB has had enough Margaritas so it sounds as if it makes sense.

They are having such a great time that, before he realizes it, it’s time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as W. 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 try the other option,” says the Keeper of the Keys, 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 power and money, and treat each other decently.

Not a nasty prank or frat boy joke among them; no fancy country clubs and, while the food tastes great, it’s not caviar or lobster. And these people are all poor, he doesn’t see anybody he knows, and he isn’t even treated like someone special!

Worst of all, Jesus turns out to be some kind of Jewish hippie with his endless ‘peace’ and ‘do unto others’ jive. And the prophets! They sound a lot like Paul Krugman, always yammering on about “truth” and “justice” and stuff.

“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, then 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.”

“Are you sure?” says Peter sadly.

“I think so,” says W.

“But thinking never was your strong suit, now was it, son? Don’t you think you want to do a little praying first?”

“Hey! You said it was my choice, didn’t you? Well, I’ve made my choice.”

“So you have,” says Peter with a sigh. So he takes out the Keys, escorts W.to the elevator, and sends him on his way to Hell.

The doors of the elevator open and W. finds himself in the middle of a barren scorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial waste.. kind of like


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. They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime. The Devil comes over to Dubya and puts an arm around his shoulder, burning him horribly.

When W. finishes screaming, he manages to ask the question that is now tormenting him almost as much as the pain and the stench. “I don’t understand. Yesterday I was here and it wasn’t … it wasn’t like this at all.”

The Devil looks at him, smiles, and says: “That? Why, that was the campaign.”

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