Hillary Clinton: Boy, this room is dark. Hello? Anyone here? (Would someone find a f*%$&ing light switch before I trip and break a heel, please!)
An eerie, green glow appears at the far end of the dark, obsidian-walled chamber. It appears to be some sort of large, television-shaped apparition of a giant face.
KOS: Welcome, senator. Nice to see you. You look lovely in turquoise. Have you brought what we asked?
Hillary Clinton: Yes, my lord. I mean, I think so. And by the way, it's blue, not turquoise. I didn't spend $1,400 on turquoise. (Doyle, my bag!) Here you are, my lord. One "thank you" to your minions, one joke about the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, six live chickens, and one apology for my Iraq war vote. Wait. How'd that get in there? (Doyle, take this back, I told you, it's not time yet!)
KOS: Not good enough!
Hillary Clinton: Well, in all honesty, my lord, there is a general election to think about. I have to flirt with the moderates if I'm going to keep them interested. You won't find another candidate this committed to winning. I mean, I am showing my cleavage, after all.
KOS: You know the commandments, senator. You shall bow to no other gods before me! Be gone! But, you know, keep in touch. We need an alternative in case these other yahoos suddenly find they have spines, too. NEXT!
Bill Richardson: Hiya, there, Kossie. How's it hangin'?
KOS: Enough with your impudence! Your regular guy shtick doesn't work here, governor. If you know how to write code so that your blog can instantly be translated into Swahili, Esperanto, and Cerullian, that would impress us. Otherwise, put away that taco grande and show us what you brought.
Bill Richardson: Hey, no sweat, brother. Here you go. [A loud thud echoes off the futuristic black walls.] That's my resume. You can read it when you have an extra six hours. This baseball bat represents my former minor league career, which shows I can appeal to red-staters. [Wooden clattering as the bat falls to the hard, marble-like floor and rolls away.] This sombrero is a reminder that I'm the only Hispanic candidate in the race, and therefore the one best likely to win the growing Hispanic vote in states rich in Electoral College votes, like California, Florida, and Texas. Yes, I'll wear it if I have to. And here I have a pledge to end the Iraq war, appoint a union member as labor secretary, and hire Daily Kos bloggers to start the first ever official presidential blog. It'll be under my name, of course, but your guys can say pretty much whatever they want. I'm fine with that.
KOS: What about the pledge to raise taxes at least 300 percent in your first 100 days in office? You are the only candidate who has not signed it.
Bill Richardson: Well, uh, I meant to talk to you about that. You see, in New Mexico, I cut taxes, and, funny thing here, we actually saw state revenue grow. How about that, eh?
KOS: Silence! Guards! Toss this frat boy into the poli-sci grad students' room! Maybe they can convince him of the error of his ways.
Bill Richardson: Nooooooo!!
Barack Obama: Greetings, most exalted one. I want you to know how thrilled I am to be here and how deeply appreciative I am that you would take time away from changing the very fabric of our democracy to meet with me.
KOS: Your eloquence is...enticing. But let's get down to brass tacks. What have you brought us?
Barack Obama: Well, as you know, I am the only candidate in the race to have opposed the Iraq war from the very beginning...
KOS: You forget Dennis Kucinich?
Barack Obama: You're kidding, right? You actually consider him a candidate?
KOS: No. Just pulling your leg. Continue.
Barack Obama: Nice one, your eminence. You had me for a second there. Anyway, I bring you my firm and consistent opposition to the Iraq war, my willingness to invite anyone, and I mean anyone, over to brunch at the White House in my first year in office (and that includes your cyberness, of course), my uncanny ability to convince people that I actually know what I'm talking about on any subject, my charm, wit, good looks and 250,000 individual donors.
KOS: Excellent. Most excellent. But what about bombing Pakistan? Isn't that a little Bush-Doctriney?
Barack Obama: Well, they are harboring al Qaeda, possibly including bin Laden himself. I think it would be a justified attack if we had credible intelligence, there was no possibility of civilian casualties, and it came right before the 2012 election, preferably in September.
KOS: So you're saying they're either with us or against us?
Barack Obama: No, not at all. We can invade their air space and bomb their countryside and they can still be with us. Wait. Scratch that. I'm saying that if they're harboring terrorists, we'll have to take action, but if they're committing genocide, they can still be considered with us. In my administration, genocide won't be an automatic trigger for war. They'd have to kill a hell of a lot of people before I'd send U.S. forces into another war of choice. A hell of a lot. As long as the dead aren't Iraqis. They can kill as many of them as they want. I'm not going to intervene there. It's just morally wrong.
KOS: Whatever, dude. Next!
John Edwards: Hey, is that a mirror?
Dennis Kucinich: Wow! It's just like the holodeck on the Enterprise!
KOS: OK, I'm out for lunch! Someone get this guy into the New York underground bloggers' room. Maybe some of the cool will rub off.
Dennis Kucinich: Hey, who said that?! Is that you, Captain Picard?
Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
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