A Witless Wonderland

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A table is set in a forest with porcelain teapots filled with ginger tea, white tea, black tea and many others. The table is also filled with every kind of confection, from scones to butter cookies, not to mention, some scrumptious-looking finger sandwiches. At the table, sits our top leaders, discussing vital issues.

VP White Nationalist Rabbit: {pulls out a broken pocket watch} I’m terribly late for my meeting with an organization that shall remain nameless.

President Mad Asshatter: {takes his pocket watch and dunks it in the black tea}

White Nationalist Rabbit: Not the black tea!!!

Spokesperson Queens Reich: Sir, I need to discuss the proposal to weaken mercury standards and how it could negatively impact our anti-pollution laws.

Mad Asshatter: Nonsense, mercury is good for you. {snorts mercury from a thermometer}

Senior Advisor Jared Dorkmouse: {pokes his head out from an empty teacup}

Mad Asshatter: {turns tea cup upside down and traps Dorkmouse under it}

Treasury Secretary Creepy Cat: Sir, I’ve been doing the math on this border wall and …

Mad Asshatter: Stop right there. There’s no need to bring math into this.

Creepy Cat: But sir, we don’t have the money.

Mad Asshatter: Stop smiling like that. You’re making me lose my appetite. {shoves entire scone into his mouth}

Security Advisor March Hare Implants: A withdrawal from Syria is very unpopular among some of your base.

Creepy Cat: {Ears perk up at the mention of the word ‘withdrawal’ but go back down at the mention of a poor country}

Mad Asshatter: {picks up Dorkmouse by the tail and begins to spread butter on him}

Dorkmouse: {trying to escape} Squeak!!!

White Nationalist Rabbit: I am so very late. I hope they don’t start without me.

Queens Reich: Mr President, we should suspend our daily press briefings.

Mad Asshatter: {realizes he’s holding Dorkmouse and throws him up in the air, where he lands on a tree branch} Suspend them for how long?

Queens Reich: Until you learn how to construct sentences.

Mad Asshatter: Look, you can hold briefings, just blame everything on the Democrats.

Creepy Cat: {smiles so wide he catches a bee and several flies}

Mad Asshatter: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

March Hare Implants: {grooming mustache with a tea whisk and staring blankly}

Queens Reich: I don’t know, how is a raven like a writing desk?

Mad Asshatter: I don’t write. How the fuck should I know? {drinks tea from the pot}

White Nationalist Rabbit: That’s an excellent riddle.

{A hawk swoops down on the tree branch and flies away with Dorkmouse}

Mad Asshatter: Where is that bird going with my raspberry tart? Do something, March Hare Implants! You’re my National Security Advisor.

March Hare Implants: This is not in my job description, but okay. {Hurls a saucer like a frisbee and hits White Nationalist Rabbit, knocking him out of his chair}

Mad Asshatter: Goddamn it! It got away.

Creepy Cat: {Sees the White House cat}

Mad Asshatter: I need to get a new National Security Advisor. Queens Reich, find out who made these tarts and ask them if they want to be my National Security Advisor.

Queens Reich: You’ve already asked much of the kitchen staff already, for various cabinet positions, including for White House Spokesperson.

Mad Asshatter: Well, try some of the custodial workers.

Queens Reich: Sir, it’s time to call Sean Hannity. You need to find out what our economic, social and foreign polices are this week, because no one seems to know.

{The Mad Asshatter leaves with Queens Reich and March Hare Implants. He grabs a couple of tarts and shoves them inside his suit jacket. White Nationalist Rabbit is still on the ground, possibly dead. No one could tell before anyway. Creepy cat is left alone to sniff the butt of the White House cat}

 

Make Extinction Level Event Great Again

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It’s 66 million years ago in the Mesozoic Era. An asteroid is hurtling towards Earth and President Trumposaurus Rex is meeting with his top cabinet officials, to discuss what to do about it.

Trumposarus: {trying to pick up a brontosaurus egg with his tiny hands} I don’t understand what is going on. Something about an asseroid coming at us.

Penceadon: That’s asteroid sir.

Trumposarus: Isn’t there some way we can destroy it?

Monomattisteryx: We can’t; it’s too big.

Trumposarus: That’s what she said.

Sesslodocus: Nice one sir.

Trumposarus: Shut up Sesslodocus. I’m firing you right after this hemorrhoid hits the Earth.

Kushnaraptor: {shrieks in a high-pitched scream}

Pompeodromeus: What exactly do you do here again?

Sanderceratops: Sir, you need to tell the other dinnosaurs the bad news and to prepare themselves for something horrific.

Monomattisteryx: The asteroid is about 10 to 15 kilometers in diameter.

Trumposarus: You know I can’t count. Do you know how big a tyrannosaurs brain is?

Pompeodromeus: It will immediately cause climate disruption upon impact.

Trumposarus: Climate disruption is a hoax perpetrated by pterodactyls who want to rule the Earth.

Sesslodocus: {starts to speak but Trumposarus bites off his head}

Kushneraptor: {screeches again}

Penceadon: The impact will release dust, sulfur and carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere. The dust will block out the sun.

Trumposarus: Good, it’s too hot anyway.

Penceadon: No, that’s bad, because the plants won’t get any sun and about 75% of them will die.

Trumposarus: {finally gets the brontosaurs egg into his hands} So, who cares? I don’t eat plants.

Sanderceratops: Sir, a lot of dinosaurs, including me, only eat plants.

Trumposarus: Sucks to be you.

Monomattisteryx: I don’t think you understand. The dinosaurs and other animals that you eat, will die out, because they won’t have anything to eat.

Pompeodromeus: It’s a lot more than that. It’s hitting in water, so it is going to create a megatsunami, probably over 33 feet tall.

Trumposarus: See, I told you we should have built that wall.

Pompedromeus: A wall wouldn’t make a difference in this case. The impact will also cause wildfires to erupt and the shock waves  will trigger global earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Penceadon: What are you going to tell the other dinosaurs?

Trumposarus: I’m going to tell them it’s all fake news and that it’s going to a big beautiful asteroid, that’s going to do great things. Very great things. You’ve never seen an asteroid like this, believe me.

Sanderceratops: I’ll gather all the dinosaurs together, so you can address them.

Trumposarus: Can someone wrap up that head for me in a to-go box? I want to save that for later.

 

 

 

The Law of Diminishing Integrity

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Attorney-client privilege is so 2017. Michael Cohen recorded a conversation with his “client,” Donald Trump, regarding the payoff of an affair with a playboy playmate model. It has the sound quality of a 1978 sex ed film, played on a broken film projector, but it does expose the lies told during the Trump campaign. There are many more of these types of recordings and below is a complete (not yet heard by the public) transcript.

Trump: Are you recording me?

Cohen: What kind of scumbag lawyer would do that?

Trump: The kind I hire.

Cohen: Why would I need to record a conversation about a payoff? It’s not like I might have to turn it over to a special prosecutor one day, in order to save my ass from jail.

Trump: Uh huh.

Cohen: Listen, I’ve had a brilliant idea. I’m going to set up a shell corporation in order to make a hush money payment.

Trump: Who are we hushing up this time?

Cohen: Let me just check my files. I’ve filed them all alphabetically and we have worked our way down to the letter ‘K.’ It looks like her name is Kandy Kane.

Trump: I don’t know anyone called Kandy Kane.

Cohen: That’s just her stage name.

Trump: Whatever. Make sure you pay in cash though.

Cohen: No, no. You don’t want to pay in cash.

Trump: Jesus Mike! Where did you get your law degree, the University of Online?

Cohen: Yes.

Trump: Well, you can’t write a check.

Cohen: That’s why we are creating the shell corporation. I’m calling it Kandy Kane Kover-Up LLC.

Trump: Noice!

Cohen: I’ll just need you to get $50,000 for me.

Trump: Say what?

Cohen: You need to provide money to the LLC, so that I can make the hush payment.

Trump: I don’t have any money! I’ve been bankrupt five times! Why don’t you pay it; you’re a (says the word barely above a whisper) Jew.

Cohen: Did you just use a horribly insensitive antisemitic stereotype, perpetuated by years of being restricted by Christians, to the profession of moneylending?

Trump: I have no idea what you just said, but I am not a racist. Oh, remind me to prepare my speech later on building a wall to keep out Mexican rapists and criminals.

Cohen: You’re definitely going to win this presidential race.

Trump: You think so?

Cohen: Yes, just keep denying all the facts and you’ll be fine. People love a tough idiot.

Trump: Do they really?

Cohen: Yes, remember George W. Bush.

Trump: Er??

Cohen: He was the 43rd president.

Trump: Um?

Cohen: He was the son of George H. Bush.

Trump: {audibly drools}

Cohen: He was the cowboy hat President before Obama.

Trump: Oh yeah. Now get out there Mike. I’m not paying you to just sit around. I’m paying you to blur all moral and ethical lines.

{The last few minutes are crunching noises. Mike is eating a can of cheddar cheese Pringles}

 

 

 

 

Apocalypse Lame

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The year is 2018 and the Intergalactic Department of Giant Calamities, Annihilation and Fatalities, or most commonly referred by their acronym, I.D.G.A.F., lands its spacecraft, a refurbished 1988 Ford Fiesta, on what’s left of the planet Earth.

“So, their leader caused this devastation?” Alien 1 asked.

“One of their leaders, at any rate. A human named, Trump,” Alien 2 said.

They both break out into raucous laughter, because the word, “Trump” where they are from, means, “dick hat.”

“He was either their leader or someone called, ‘Starbucks Caramel Macchiato,'” Alien 2 said, picking up what was now the tenth discarded cup.

“How did it happen?”

“Apparently, he accidentally hit their nuclear button, whilst wearing a foam finger.”

“So sad. Did anyone survive the horrible destruction?”

“Just some cockroaches and a human called, ‘Gary Busey.'”

Alien 1, who literally had no words for such absurdity repeated, “So sad.” He kicked a, Time Magazine, with their man of the year on the cover, Gary Busey, holding a cockroach. “What was their world like?”

“It was like most planets; there were peaceful parts of the world and parts constantly at war. Then invariably, you get a leader like Dick Hat and the next thing you know, your planet is destroyed,” Alien 2 said.

Alien 1 remained silent, as the Earth belched out a cloud of black smog, filled with poisonous gases.

“You know, he never would have allowed us into his part of the world. He said, we are illegal and wanted to build a wall to keep us out,” Alien 2 said.

“He didn’t know, we could easily land our Ford Fiesta inside of his puny wall?”

“This leader obviously didn’t know things.”

“Should we document this as an official Article 5?” Alien 1 asked.

Article 5 is, “senseless destruction.”

“I think we should be more specific and document it as an Article 9,” Alien 2 said.

Article 9 is, “destruction by slow-witted farm animal.”

“Sounds good to me. Hey, do you want to go to the IHOP (Intergalactic House of Pancakes) in the Andromeda Galaxy? ”

“No, that place makes me bloated.”

 

 

 

 

The President Who Knew Too Little

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Trump: {spinning around in his chair in the Oval Office}

Pence: {whispers to Sessions} I would have thought, he’d be tired of doing that by now.

Sessions: Sir, there is an urgent matter that needs your attention.

Trump: {stops spinning} I can’t give you my attention right now. I used up my attention span for the day, for my early morning tweet on the toilet. It was brilliant. I typed out in all caps, NO COLLUSION!

Pence: {takes off human face to reveal a giant lizard head} Whew, that gets uncomfortable after a while.

Sessions: But sir–

Trump: Don’t bother me right now Keebler.

Sessions: {whispers to Pence} He just called me Keebler.

Pence: He always calls you that, only he forgot that he is supposed to say it behind your back.

Trump: Get out of my office. I’m still mad at you for refusing yourself from the Russia investigation.

Sessions: You mean recuse.

Trump: {stares blankly} Sure.

{Sessions leaves, carrying his newly made batch of Keebler Chips Deluxe Rainbow cookies}

Trump: The press is all over me about this, that and the other. I need that blonde woman, the one whose face ages right in front of you.

Pence: You mean Kellyanne Conway.

Trump: Who? For Christ sake Mike, put your human face back on. I don’t want the press to find out, that my Vice President is a lizard.

Pence: {puts on human face} You should really get Sarah Huckabee Sanders, if you want someone to speak to the press. That’s her job.

Trump: {drools}

Pence: She’s your Press Secretary.

Trump: My Press Secretary is Sean Bean.

Pence: His last name is Spicer and he resigned months ago.

Trump: Nonsense! He’s probably hiding in a bush somewhere. Run along and find that pasty loser.

{Pence leaves}

Trump: {picks up his phone and calls Sean Hannity} Hey Sean. I can’t decide on which tie to wear to dinner tonight, my blue tie that makes me irresistible to the ladies, or my red tie that makes me irresistible to the ladies.

Hannity: Always red Mr. President. Red is the color of the Republican party. Remember the two r’s we talked about?

Trump: Oh yes, what would I do without you. You are indispensable to me. {makes kissing noises}

Hannity: Now, excuse me Mr. President; I have to work on a flow chart, that shows how Robert Mueller killed Jack Kennedy and Henry Kissinger.

Trump: I thought Henry was still alive; he was at the White House last week.

Hannity: Exactly, it’s a deep state conspiracy. Good by sir. I’ll see you Friday, for our weekly moose hunt.

Conway: {enters the Oval Office} You wanted to see me Mr. President.

Trump: Not really, but I need you to hold a press conference and tell the press, I didn’t do, whatever it is I already screwed up today.

Conway: Can you be more specific?

Trump: No, I can’t be more specific. That’s why I pay you to be specific for me.

Conway: You don’t pay me sir; I work for water and discarded pizza crusts.

Trump: Damnit Julieanne, if you want to get paid, you’ll do as I ask.

{Conway leaves and bumps into Jared Kushner, who squeaks like a mouse}

Kushner: Hi dad.

Trump: I told you to stop calling me that. I’m already over my quota for dipshit sons.

{loud crack, as door gets kicked in and Bob Muller enters}

Kushner: {faints}

Trump: The door was open already.

Muller: {stares malevolently at Trump}

Trump: {tries to stare malevolently back, but winks instead}

Muller: It’s time to end this once and for all Trump.

Trump: It is on!

Muller: It is so on! {takes out lightsaber from inside his suit jacket}

Trump: Hold on; I’m not ready. I have to get my lightsaber; it’s in a very safe place. {moves picture of George Washington, that’s covering a combination safe}

Muller: {sighs, while Trump tries to remember the combination}

Trump: {opens the safe and grabs lightsaber}

Muller: Time to die Trump, or should I call you by your Sith name, Darth Imbecilus.

Kushner: {wakes up}

Muller: {thrusts lighsaber into Kushners heart}

Jared: {screams with a pitch so high, only nearby dogs can hear it}

Mueller: I just killed your young apprentice.

Trump: He wasn’t my apprentice.

{epic battle of mediocrity occurs, ending with Muller pointing his lightsaber at Trump’s head}

Muller: Did you collude with Russia?

Trump: {starts crying} I don’t know! I don’t know what the word means.

{Muller, disgusted, strikes a death blow at Trump, but his lightsaber is blocked by a shirtless Putin}

Putin: {In Russian} I’ll wear your skin like a coat. {translation could also be, I’d like to buy your goat}

Muller: Well, if it isn’t Count Gulag. I see you’ve come to save your puppet.

Putin: {puts a force choke on Muller}

Mueller: {sends bobbleheads flying from Trump’s desk of all the presidents, toward Putin}

{A Nixon bobblehead hits Putin in the face}

Mueller: You will never triumph over the force.

Putin: {In Russian} I eat the force for breakfast.

{They exchange blows, until the Oval Office is in shambles}

Putin: {looking at Trump} Get up you ridiculous man and strike him down.

Trump: I have no idea what you are saying. This is why all immigrants, who come to this country, need to learn to speak American.

{Secret Service Agent finally enters}

Agent: What is going on here? I heard loud noises and all the neighborhood dogs are barking. I would have come sooner, but I wanted to get a burrito from the food truck, before they left the White House.

{Putin, taking advantage of the distraction, grabs Trump and exits out a window}

Mueller: {shuts off lightsaber} We’ll meet again Trump! {to agent} Do you think the food truck is still here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Idiot President’s Men

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The etymology of words are interesting, but the etymology of political words are almost always born out of corruption. Here are five words to add to your political vocabulary.

Non-denial denial. The non-denial denial, has been around a long time; it’s been used by lawyers, politicians and clever children, when they want to avoid the truth, without directly lying. The phrase didn’t get coined until Ben Bradlee, of the Washington Post, used it to describe all the evasive statements they were receiving from Nixon’s staff during Watergate. A non-denial denial, is when you don’t deny something, but you carefully craft your words, so that it doesn’t seem untruthful, because it’s based on interpretation. A famous example is when Bill Clinton said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” because sexual relations can be defined differently. The non-denial denial, has been used frequently by this administration, not by Trump, because he’s not actually smart enough to use it. He is more of deny and then later tell the truth, because he forgot that he already denied it. Kellyanne Conway invented her own political term, “alternative facts” as a non-denial denial, at Sean Spicer’s blatant lie about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd. By all accounts, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions has perjured himself three times, but because of the non-denial denial, it would be hard to prove. Press Secretary, Sarah “I hate my life” Sanders, has probably used the non-denial denial the most on behalf of her boss. She has repeatedly dodged questions about Trump’s sexual harassment allegations, by saying the issue was put to rest during the election, because the voters already knew this information, but voted for him anyway. When asked about George Papadopoulos colluding with the Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, she responded, “he was a volunteer; he was not a senior member of the campaign.” She should take a page out of her predecessors book and just hide in a bush.

Ratfucking. Yes, this is a real political word and yes, it was hilarious in, All the President’s Men, when Deep Throat asked Robert Redford what the topic was for the night and he said, “ratfucking.” You should use that word next time someone asks you what your weekend plans are. I don’t know if the actual term is still used, but certainly the behavior is prevalent. Former Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon and Trump have parted ways (it’s always sad when celebrity couples break up) but that hasn’t stopped Steve from saying, “I don’t think Trump will even make it to a second term; he’s lost his stuff.” His, ‘stuff’ being barely coherent ramblings, boasting and hyperbole. Bannon also said, as noted in Fire and Fury, “Don Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower was treasonous.” According to Trump though, that is a fake book, perpetrated by the fake news media. Everything is fake, except for his hair and his love for himself. Let’s not forget former White House Director of Communications and Sopranos extra, Anthony Scaramucci’s rant, about Reince Priebus being a, “paranoid  schizophrenic” and saying he thinks Steve Bannon was the one leaking to the press. The biggest ratfucking, would have to be Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort. Who knows what the two of them told Mueller about Kushner or Trump, in order to try and save themselves. Everyone is ratfucking everyone else, in an attempt to not go down with a ship named the S.S. Trump.

Deep state. This term has been gaining traction again lately. It’s a form of cabal, that operates in the shadows, outside of democracy. I first remember hearing the term from, All the President’s Men. It was used about Watergate and that turned out to be true in that case. Howard Simon, who was managing editor of the Washington Post, jokingly called Woodward’s informant Deep Throat, because of his seemingly deep background. Deep state has been used a lot recently, especially on Fox News, to claim the FBI is conspiring to remove Trump from office. Deep state is a conspiracy and although there was one in Watergate, it’s definitely not the case now. The only reason the GOP is calling it a deep state, is because Trump is in deep shit. Human sock puppet, Sean Hannity, has lead the charge on the deep state, which is the FBI and DOJ. It’s a way to discredit Robert Mueller and his investigation. Lou Dobbs has also said that, “it’s time to call out the deep state.” Devin Nunes, the on-again, off-again, character from a soap opera, that you wish they would just kill off, is the head of the deep state revival. He has a memo that documents violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He claims the FBI, abused the FISA surveillance law, over its use of the dossier on Trump, to obtain a FISA warrant against Carter Page. Keeping in mind, it’s a memo on a warrant Nunes didn’t read. It’s like writing a book report on a book you didn’t read. It’s not like Devon Nunes recused himself, because he was getting information directly from the White House in defense of the White House or anything.

Bork.  Borking, not to be confused with porking, even though they achieve the same goal, means to assault a person’s background or personal character in order to discredit them. The word comes from Robert Bork, who tried to deep six the Watergate investigation. Let’s face it, Trump loves to bork people; he’s been doing it his entire life. He borked all of his political opponents, (lying Ted, little Marco, low-energy Jeb and Crooked Hillary), he’s borked everyone that he’s fired and most recently, he borked FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, into resigning (technically he borked McCabe’s wife). Not only is Trump personally borking Mueller, but the Republican majority is borking the entire FBI and DOJ. That’s a lot of borking! Now the Republican majority of the House Intelligence Committee, has launched an investigation into the FBI. It’s an investigation to investigate the investigators. It’s not a Saturday Night Massacre; it’s a Saturday Night Live skit.

Eleventh Commandment. Reagan used the term when running for governor of California. The eleventh commandment is, “thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” The GOP has officially adopted the eleventh commandment, when it comes to Trump and his actions. Nothing is ever his fault; it’s the fault of the media, the FBI, Hillary Clinton, Obama, Smurfs … everyone except Trump. Never has a party defended such a corrupt, inane, and vile demagogue. It doesn’t matter what he says or does and it’s gotten to the point, that he’s said so many horrible things, when he does something like read from a teleprompter and stay on script, Fox News throws him a parade. Just because bats aren’t flying out of his ass, doesn’t mean that everything is normal. Trump’s behavior is far from normal and yet the GOP make excuses for him. Everyone surrounding Trump is a sycophant, they tell him what he wants to hear. They distract him with flattery and by dangling shiny objects in front of him. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who carries around Atlas Shrugged in his back pocket, has most recently used the eleventh commandment and defended the Nunes’ memo saying, “that that the public deserves full transparency into the potentially wrong-doing of the FBI.” This is all an attempt to create a narrative, that the FBI is corrupt, so Trump will be justified when he fires Mueller. The GOP is currently working on a twelfth commandment, “thou shall not help poor people.”

Do Republicans Dream of Electric Sheeple?

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Sci-Fi fans might remember that the Voight Kampff test, was a test that was administered in Philip K. Dicks’ novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and also in the movie, Blade Runner. The test was designed, to determine if a person was real or a replicant, by eliciting empathetic responses, which a human would give and detect replicants, because they were supposed to be incapable of discerning emotions. The Voight Kampff test has now been redesigned, but instead of detecting replicants, it can now detect Republican officials. Here are a list of sample questions taken from the new test.

A poor person comes to you, explaining she is a single mom working two jobs. She can barely make ends meet and relies on food stamps to feed her family. She begs you, not to cut the food stamps program from the Federal budget. What do you say to her?

  • Don’t worry, I won’t cut the funding for the program.
  • Food stamps? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • Offer her an Arby’s coupon for a free curly fry.

A man’s son was just killed in a mass shooting. He asks you what you are going to do about assault weapons. What do you say to the man?

  • Pull out a gun and shoot him.
  • I’m going to propose legislation to ban assault weapons.
  • Give everyone a gun, including monkeys and babies.

A teenage boy comes to you and tells you that his parents are illegal immigrants and are about to be deported. How do you respond to the teenager?

  • Invite the parents to work in your sweat shop for below minimum wage.
  • Propose an immigration reform bill that, would allow his parents to stay.
  • Start to offer him an Arby’s coupon, but then don’t, because you remember that you wanted to use it later.

A gay couple invite you to the bakery they own, where they make wedding cakes. What do you say to the couple?

  • I would love too!
  • Ask them if they have a minute to talk about Jesus.
  • Pretend to be dead.

A family has lost everything they own, because of a hurricane.  They want to know what you will do to help them and others like them. How do you respond to this family in need?

  • Give no fucks.
  • Give them food and water and tell them about the emergency services that are available.
  • Assault them with a paper towel roll.

An actual flaming turd, is a Republican candidate running for the Senate. It eats kittens, sells crack to kids in your neighborhood and judo chops old people. Do you give your support to this candidate?

  • Absolutely not!
  • If these allegations are true, then you might think about reconsidering.
  • Give money to its Super PAC.

The results of this test are supposed to be kept confidential, but I will share them anyway. Mitch McConnell’s results were inconclusive, because he passed out during the first question, at the mention of, “poor person.” Steve Mnuchin’s results were also inclusive, because he had to stop midway through, to count his bars of gold. However, two-thirds of our government have now been retired.