Republicans across the country abruptly left the campaign trail yesterday and descended on Duke University after news broke that researchers there had developed a device that would make objects disappear.
"Where could I find the scientists?" House Speaker Dennis Hastert asked a passerby, as he stood outside the historic Duke Chapel in a crumpled trenchcoat and sporting several days growth of beard. On the campus green, Karl Rove was seen stopping students at random, demanding directions to the research facility, which seemed to have itself become invisible.
Bereft of ideas and hoisted on the petard of their own actions and inaction since they came to Congressional power in 1994 and had their president installed by the Supreme Court in 2000, the GOP heavies came to Durham looking for the ultimate October Surprise; a Hail Mary pass of historic proportions. If only they could make people, evidence of disasters and history itself disappear, they may stand a chance to avoid the trouncing at the polls, currently scheduled and guaranteed to occur on November 7th.
While Hastert, Rove and others scoured the Duke campus for answers, key staffers back in Washington and around the country made priority lists of possible immediate uses of the technology. High on the list of those the GOP would just as soon not be seen were Donald Rumsfeld and (unbeknownst to him as he trolled the Duke campus) Hastert himself. Republican embarrassments that had already gone into hiding, such as Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff and Mark Foley, were considered less of a priority.
Of keen interest to the desperate leaders was whether the technology could be applied to vast areas of cities or countries. Rove and Hastert came to Duke armed with millions of dollars in cash, hoping to leave with a cloak sufficient to quickly cover Iraq, or, at least, Baghdad. Contingency plans were also developed to put a shroud of invisibility around parts of New Orleans, although, with the passing of the first anniversary, media indifference made such an application of the device unnecessary.
At the Department of Homeland Security, top government sleuths and scientists explored the possibility of disappearing history itself, which would really be the ultimate boon to Republican hopes in November. Although made more difficult with the expansion of information on computers and the internet, it is believed that whole shelves of library books could be emptied – or at least they would appear that way – and thousands of downloaded-but-blank web pages could result in gains for the GOP in historically-forgetful districts. Who needs to burn the books when you can’t find them?
One of the first to return from the mission to Durham yesterday was Dick Cheney, who made a quick visit to the White House before retiring to his undisclosed location for the night. This morning, the White House announced that President Bush was "busy" and might not be seen in public this weekend, next week or beyond. "He’s here in the White House," said Tony Snow. "You just can’t see him right now."
Back in the Vice President’s residence, Cheney was seen, smiling broadly.