...in a bar in NYC and found myself listening in to someone’s conversation. As it so happened, I was sitting next to Satan and he was on his cellphone. He seemed upset and was repeating what he heard. Apparently, there was a train full of managed care and health insurance executives, politicians, lawyers and doctors all on their way to Washington D.C. for a congressional hearing on healthcare reform when there was a terrible accident. All were killed, and their souls were on their way “down” for processing. Satan dropped the phone on the bar, threw his hands up in disgust, and cried out: “What did I do to deserve this?!”
Interested, I said: “Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you, and don’t take my intrusion to mean I want to spend my afterlife down south, but…”
“Don't worry,” he responded ominously “it won't change a thing.”
“Okay, so you’re unhappy with the crowd coming down. Then what was the deal with healthcare reform? Tens of millions of uninsured Americans, outrageous costs growing exorbitantly, and yet you derailed it in 1994.”
“No, that was the Republicans. I can't be everywhere at once. I’m not God, you know!” He started to laugh. “Contract with America, contract, get it? That had me written all over it, didn't it? Besides, what are you complaining about?” Satan demanded. I gave you Medicare part D drug coverage”
”Like I needed you to tell me where that came from!” I said. “Surely you couldn’t have made it any worse!”
“No, that was the Bush administration. I was just going to have it drive up the deficit and inflation, not that anyone would have noticed these days! Oh, and I was going to leave Viagra out of the formulary. Heh heh. It was the Bush administration that came up with including the healthcare industry in a meaningless role that only serves to drive up costs, complexity and headaches. I tip my horns to them, it was a master stroke of chaos and disorder. They could have a real future with my organization, if you know what I mean.”
“That's not very nice, considering they claim to be one of the most religious and moral administrations," I retorted in a hollow patriotic timbre.
“And I claim to just be misunderstood.” The devil laughed. “But maybe when one of your cities is being wiped out in a hurricane and flood, you should move your butt! ‘Heckuva job Brownie.’” Satan was really laughing now. “I swear, I have political advisers and speechwriters dating back to Grant and Garfield and Nixon, as well as any number of Hollywood screenwriters, and a future option on Karl Rove, and I still can't make this stuff up.” We were both laughing now.
“An administration that wouldn’t release information about its secret policy discussions with energy producers, placed stumbling blocks in the way of the 9/11 commission, and refuses to release documents about its response to hurricane Katrina, yet insists it’s okay to spy on Americans with wiretaps without getting warrants and following the law. I usually don’t have it this good in the U.S. of A. I usually have to go to Central America or the Middle East for everything to come together like this!” Satan howled.
“Let me remind you,” I began, “one of the things that makes this country great is the democratic process. When national election time rolls around we get to throw out the misfits and try again with a new crew. The next Congress might be the beginning of straightening these things out!”
Satan put his arm over my shoulder, leaned in close until I could smell a mix of sulfur, brimstone and single malt Scotch, and said: “Really? Great! Let's meet right here on election night November 2006 at 9 p.m. and see how much things change.”
“Okay.” I said.
“In fact,” he smiled: “How about a little wager?”
While thinking over his offer, we agreed to meet on Election Day 2006.