An Inconvenient President

Reads: 221  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just something I wrote when I was bored last summer. And yes it's mostly guesswork and inaccurate.

Submitted: August 05, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 05, 2011

A A A

A A A


 

“…Welcome back to the highly contested 2000 presidential campaign. We have just received word that the Supreme Court has voted in favor of Al Gore in a 5-4 decision, allowing the recount in Florida to continue. The Supreme Court has spent the last several days debating whether or not to grant presidential nominee George W Bush’s request for an end to the recount in Florida. With the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Vice President Al Gore, the hotly contested recount taking place in Florida will continue. We are receiving word that Gore appears to have taken the lead over Governor Bush as the recount continues across Florida. Stay tuned as we continue our live coverage of the recount taking place in counties across the contested state…”

“I, Albert Arnold Gore Junior, do solemnly swear… that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States,… and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,… so help me God.” 

“Congratulations Mr. President”, the Chief Justice said shaking the newly elected Commander in Chief’s hand. President Al Gore tightly hugged his wife Mary and their children as patriotic music and applause swept over him in a deafening roar. Not even the overcast weather could dampen his mood on this day.

“You did it Al, you really did it”, Mary said with tears of joy in her eyes.

“Once the Supreme Court ruled in our favor I reckoned we would make it”, Gore replied. “When I started this campaign I had no idea it would be this close. Hopefully 2004 won’t be this exciting!”

“Look at you already worrying about the next election”, Mary said in a mock scolding tone of voice. Before Gore could reply, his running mate Joe Lieberman stepped up to him to shake his hand.

“Congratulations Mr. President. I should never have doubted you when you said we would this race yet, even after it looked like the court would rule in favor of Bush.”

“It’s alright Joe, we won and that’s all that matters. I’ve got big plans for this country and I’m right glad to have you as my Vice President.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself Mr. President, you’ve still got your speech to give before we can get to work”, and with that Joe stepped back under the protection of his umbrella. After another minute of hand shaking and accepting congratulations, President Gore turned to face the crowd stretching back hundreds of feet.

“Thank you all. I want to thank my many supporters across the country who made it possible for me to be here today. I want to also thank President Clinton for his service to this country. And I want to thank Governor Bush for a well fought campaign and graceful defeat. I am honored to stand here today where so many great men have stood before. I am confident that if our founding fathers were here today, they would be proud of what they saw. Proud of our nation for its commitment to furthering justice, freedom, and human rights around the world. Our nation has always been the forerunner in times of change, and the beginning of the 21st century is indeed a time of change.

We have a duty to provide our children with an education that will allow them to enter the workforce ready to succeed and make America the center of technological advancement once again. We also have a duty to provide our children with a world that is clean and unspoiled by pollutants. In recent years America has begun to slide behind other nations that have wisely invested in technologies that will reduce the human impact on the environment. As God is my witness we will make America the leader in technologies of the future that will provide thousands of jobs to our well educated workforce!” Al paused as thunderous applause filled the air before continuing on with his speech.

After 20 minutes he ended his speech with “God bless America!” and a jaunty wave to the crowd.

 

§

 

Eric Chapman strolled down the street, savoring the perfectly temperate weather. He mournfully felt on his shoulder where his long hair had once touched; now it barely made it past his cheeks. The price a man pays just so he can get a job to put food on his table he thought ruefully. He was of average height and build with brown hair that had, until recently, touched his shoulders. He wasn’t of too fair complexion that he would burn if he stayed out in the sunlight for too long, not that he had much skin exposed in a San Francisco winter.

Thanks to the recent warm spell he was comfortably wearing jeans and a t-shirt. At 20 years of age and his brief stint in college only one year behind him, he had spent most of his time on earth living a comfortable life in his parent’s house. He hadn’t had what you would call a lot of time to accrue street smarts. Baptism by fire was what they called it and he was quickly learning just how painful it was. He hadn’t believed his old man when he’d said he would throw Eric out on his ear if he quit college. Reality had a nasty way of biting you in the ass whether you chose to believe it or not, as Eric had quickly learned.  

He paused in front of a T.V. store on his way home. One of the major news stations was playing a bit of the president’s inaugural speech from earlier in the day. Eric could afford to stand on the sidewalk watching through the glass, what with the warm weather and the customary fog nowhere to be seen.

He hoped voting for Gore had been a good idea; he seemed smart enough but his personality left a lot to be desired. Now that Bush fellow from Texas, he gave you the feeling he would be a great guy to have a drink with. He didn’t seem to have a lot of grey matter in the head though. Eric shrugged. He figured he’d made the right choice voting for Gore. Now he would get to see how the new president handled things.

Still lost in thought about the inauguration and Gore, he almost walked past his apartment complex. Haven’t thought this hard about the government since high school he thought to himself feeling slightly foolish. His first election he could vote in was turning out to be what the news people were calling historic. Eric didn’t know much about how historic it had been, he’d voted for Gore simply because he could tell when someone wasn’t large on brains and Bush had fit the bill.

Not the best reason to vote, he knew that, but he couldn’t have lived with himself if Bush had been elected, and he hadn’t even taken the time to vote against him. He buzzed himself in and headed over towards the solitary elevator that would take him up to his flat. He didn’t live in the lap of luxury; far from it in fact he thought chuckling to himself. There was a good chance the elevator would be broken down; then he’d be looking at a pleasant hike up four stories.

Unless you were homeless, the cramped two room apartment wasn’t anything special. The bathroom had broken tiles and curling paint and a flickering bare bulb. The living room/bedroom/kitchen was small enough that you would have a hard time swinging a cat by the tail around in a circle and not hitting something.

Until he found a better job than the one he had working as a busboy at Pete’s Fishy Fine Dining, he was stuck living in the rat’s ass hovel he called home. The number of people who frequented the establishment never ceased to shock him. With a name like Pete’s Fishy Fine Dining, he would have thought more customers would have been wary about walking in and asking for a menu.

If it wasn’t for them though, he wouldn’t get paid. At least he had a job; he knew a couple of his friends were still out looking. He grabbed a soda from the mini fridge and sat down on the couch that also passed as his bed. He scrounged around for the remote to the T.V and finally found it. Like everything else in the apartment, the T.V was cheap and small.

“…And I’m Diane Miller. With me tonight is Dr. Howard Brown of UCLA with his take on what the next four years under President Gore will look like. Dr. Brown has been a political analysis for our station for the presidential elections of Bill Clinton and George Bush, as well as the most recent election campaign. Alright Dr. Brown, in your opinion what is President Gore going to do differently than Clinton?”

“Thank you Diane. To begin with, President Gore promised an end to our reliance on foreign oil during the campaign trail. He proposed achieving this goal by reducing taxes on green corporations and adding tax incentives that would encourage the growth of these companies. He has also said he will increase funding for the education system….”

Eric was fast asleep before the professor could finish his sentence.

 

 

§

 

Michael Parker hadn’t been this smashed since his girl had left him 6 months earlier. The same thought kept swirling through his head. How in Christ’s name could his country have elected that maniac Gore? What the hell was happening to America? He drowned that last thought with another shot of liquor.

“Get me another one will ya?” He said to the bartender.

“You sure Mike? It ain’t like you to drink like this,” the bartender, Joe, replied.

“Yea I’m pretty damn sure Joe. Four more years with those bastards in office? I mean Al Gore for chrissake. Could you get a more liberal asshole than he is?” He gulped down the drink as mechanically as the last one he’d had.

“Let me call a cab for you Mike. You ain’t fit to drive yourself home.”

“Sure Joe, I reckon you’ve got a point.” From the way the room swirled around him, he’d had a few too many. Goddammit he’d earned the right though. Just thinking about that bastard Gore in the White House made him want to beat the crap out of someone. A couple minutes later the cab Joe had called pulled up outside the bar.

“Night Mike. Take it easy you hear?” Joe turned to get a drink for another customer.

By the time Michael was dropped off at his apartment he could already feel the onset of a powerful hangover. His apartment building was on the East End of Richmond. He paid his fare and slowly walked up the steps to his unit, lest his head decide to fall off. He fell into bed, clothes still on, and passed out.

When he woke up Saturday morning he wished he hadn’t. His head felt like someone was pounding on it with a hammer. The taste in his mouth made him want to puke, but just the thought of sitting up made his head swim and his vision dance. Michael finally gave up and slipped back into blessed sleep.

The second time he woke up he managed to make it into the bathroom. After using the toilet and brushing his teeth he took a long look at himself in the mirror. Tall, with black hair cropped short. A face bronzed by long hours in the sun, currently screwed up into an expression of pain at the rays of sunlight poking through the window. His hand rasped against the stubble that had grown overnight. He considered picking up his razor, and then decided he would probably be safer just leaving it.

After leaving the bathroom, he made himself a cup of coffee that burned his throat on the way down. With a shower, a fresh set of clothes on, and the cup of coffee in him, he began to feel more human. He swallowed a couple of Advil and sat down in his favorite chair. He made the mistake of turning on the T.V. and instantly regretted it as the sound crashed into his ears. Finding the right volume that wouldn’t make his head ache anymore than it already was rewarded him with the afternoon news.

Michael didn’t pay much attention as the weatherman talked about the snowstorm that was expected to hit Richmond later that week. Then one of the reporters said something he very much wished she’d kept to herself. “President Gore is expected to outline his plans for a new high speed train system, among other major issues later this week. The President will address Congress with his proposals and attempt to clarify his position on several key areas of his administration. After only two weeks in office, President Gore is changing tradition with his speech. When asked about this change in procedure, the President told reporters that he was not attempting to give an early State of the Union address, he merely wishes to have an open dialogue with American citizens and their representatives.” 

Who does he think he is: Franklin Delano Roosevelt?  Mike laughed to himself. Next we’ll be having fireside chats. At that he laughed out loud.

 

 

§

 

 

“Hey Eric! Get a move on, Table Six needs to be cleaned before we can seat anymore customers.”

“Coming boss!” Eric hurried over to the table in question and began wiping it down. He’d been working at Pete’s Fishy Fine Dining for three months now and he’d never seen it this crowded before. He wasn’t about to complain though—more customers meant more tips. If the restaurant stayed this busy, he might be able to afford to move to better digs.

A man could dream couldn’t he? For the next four hours, Eric raced around the dining area cleaning up behind the throngs of customers. The last ten minutes of his shift passed by at a much more sedate pace as the restaurant neared closing time. “See you later Mr. Cook,” Eric said to the manager.

“Take care of yourself Eric. I’ll see you tomorrow bright and early as usual?” Mr. Cook said.

“You know I’ve never been late Mr. Cook,” Eric replied. “And I don’t intend on starting either.” He’d seen his fair share of deadbeats come through the doors looking for work. You had to hand it to Mr. Cook; he ran the restaurant as if it were his own. If you didn’t work out, you could guarantee that Rob Cook would waste little time throwing you out on your ass.

He was a fair boss though. He gave credit where it was due and would let you know if you did a good job. You couldn’t ask for much more from a boss than that.

Eric hurried out onto the street. The April air held a hint of summer. As he stood waiting for the bus, he overhead two men talking. They were having a heated conversation about the high speed public rail system proposal being fought over in Congress. Eric had heard bits and pieces about it on the news; it seemed like Gore wasn’t wasting any time getting down to business.

The larger of the two men was animatedly waving his arms about. “Do you have any idea the cost it will take to build that thing all over the country? I told you Bill, Gore isn’t wasting any time trying to tax the average citizen for a system that we don’t need!”

“And I’m telling you Steven, Gore knows what’s what. Europe and Japan are decades ahead of us when it comes to high speed rails. Do we really want to stay behind them? This is America for crying out loud, we shouldn’t be coming in second damnit!” Neither one of them seemed close to winning the argument when the bus rolled up.

Eric paid his fare and settled down for the half an hour ride to his unit. He spent the time musing about the fate of the proposed high speed rail bill. Granted, it didn’t sound like such a terrible idea. It would supposedly create thousands of jobs and at the same time help the environment by reducing the use of airplanes and cars. Of course things like that always cost money, and lots of it, and where else would you get that money but from the taxpayer?

He chuckled. Al Gore seemed to have an answer for everything. Most of the proposed cost was supposed to come from Gore’s environmental buddies. He’d even seen some of them on T.V., promising to pledge billions to save the environment and provide the future generation with clean air to breathe. Eric had his doubts. It was easy to talk about giving away a nice chunk of your fortune when the bill hadn’t even passed through the House yet.

His back gave a reproachful twinge when he got up at his stop. A good night’s sleep would fix that no problem. He would only have to worry about working on his feet for an eight hour shift when he got to be an old man, and he sure as hell didn’t plan on working at Pete’s for the rest of his life.

 

§

 

President Gore looked up from the stack of paperwork he had in front of him, and peered out the window at the fine August day. He took a deep breath as he looked out over the White House lawn. He turned back to face the crowd of reporters and officials crowding the Oval Office.

With a smile, he began. “Six months ago, the bill that sits before me was nothing but a thought. Today I am happy to say, I have never been more proud of my fellow countrymen. We could have easily fought each other to a standstill, but we didn’t. Instead, we worked together to make this bill happen and provide countless Americans with jobs and a clean, fast, and efficient means of travel. I strongly believe our bipartisanship can and will continue. This bill isn’t a victory for Democrat or Republican; it is a victory for all Americans! Thank you.”

He uncapped the pen that lay beside his hand and began scrawling his signature onto the papers in front of him. Applause flooded his office and flash bulbs did their best to blind him. On a day like this, what could go wrong?

Three hours later he received his answer. His secretary paged him. “Uh Mr. President, there’s a Mr. Lee from the FBI here to see you. He says it’s very urgent.”

“Alright Linda, send him in.” Slightly puzzled he turned to face the door. In walked a middle aged man dressed in a non-descript suit. “Please, sit down, Mr…. Lee I take it?”

“Ah yes Mr. President. We’ve never had the opportunity to talk before. Congratulations on the bill signing this morning.”

“Thank you. Now, if you’ll excuse me for appearing short with you, what is it you have for me that is so urgent it couldn’t wait?”

The man from the FBI showed he could quickly get down to business by laying a folder on Al’s desk. “Mr. President, you are aware of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda?” Gore acknowledged he did with a nod of the head. “Mr. President, we believe Al-Qaeda is preparing to attack the United States in the next several months. The details are in the folder on your desk sir.”

“Are you absolutely positive Mr. Lee?”

“Yes sir, Mr. President. Again, the full briefing is in the folder. I hate to break this news to you today of all days, but it was decided this information is too important to rest for even a day.”

“Thank you, Mr. Lee. You are correct, this is too important to let rest”, Gore replied, flicking through the pages of the folder. As the man from the FBI walked out through the door, Gore called his secretary inside. Linda, I need you to get me Secretary of Defense Kerry on the line immediately.”

“But sir, you’re supposed to have your appointment with the Secretary of State in ten minutes. Wouldn’t you like to wait until afterwards?”

“No Linda. I need to speak to John immediately. This is a matter of national security.”

 

 

§

 

Michael Parker woke up on September 11th like any other day. He woke up to the clanging of his alarm clock. He got dressed and took a shower. He hastily made a sandwich to take into work for lunch and left his apartment. On his walk to work he picked up a newspaper from a vendor while he bought his breakfast.

The front page headline screamed: Terrorist Cell in America Cracked Open! He got on the bus to work and turned to the headline story. A spokesperson for the FBI was calling the successful raids on several homes found to be harboring terrorists as “One of the greatest triumphs in anti-terror history ever.” The article went on to praise the speed and efficiency of several government agencies working together that led to the arrests of an, as of yet, unknown number of foreign persons believed to have planned a large terrorist action in the coming weeks or perhaps days. The suspect’s houses were raided late Monday night with police confirming multiple suspects were arrested on the scene.

Just as Michael finished reading the rest of the article, the bus pulled to a stop a block away from the construction site he worked at. He hopped off and fell into step with another construction worker. “You hear about the terrorist cell they got last night, Marty?”

“Sure I have Mike. I turned on the morning news and it was on every channel.”

 “Who the hell do they think they are, coming into our country and trying to kill American citizens?”  Mike went on to violently express his opinion of the terror suspects and where they came from. By the time he was finished, the two men had reached the construction site and Marty was loudly adding his voice to the myriad of curses.

Mike’s foreman, Roy, came up to them as they were donning their hard hats. “Y’all ready to work?”

“Yes sir”, both men chorused.

“Glad to hear it. We’re gonna try to get the walls up on this baby by the end of the day. We’ve got a lot of work to do. Carlos and Stanley you go to work on the northern end of the house. Mike, I want you and Mario working on the east side of the house.”

The rest of the day passed quickly. With so much work to get done, Mike almost completely forgot about the terror plot. He caught the bus home and made his way up to his apartment. When he flicked on the news, a young faced reporter was speaking excitedly.

“The terror cell operating here on the East Coast has been identified as belonging to the terrorist network Al-Qaeda. We still do not have confirmation on the number of suspects in the East Coast terror cell; however, a source inside the FBI has confirmed that all members of the cell have been arrested. We’ll continue our coverage of the East Coast terror cell right after the break.”


§

 

President Gore walked across the stage to the waiting podium. The crowd of reporters and members of the press immediately began to quiet down as Gore took his place behind the podium.

“Good evening my fellow Americans. Three days ago, agents from several law enforcement agencies working in concert brought down one of the largest terror cells in American history. For the past several months, we have been aware of a possible terror threat to this nation. Law enforcement agencies across the country have worked quickly and diligently to bring to justice those who would harm our country. But the fight against terrorism is not over. The terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda, hides behind the protection of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. We believe the mastermind behind these failed attacks is a man named Osama bin Laden. The government of Afghanistan willingly harbors and protects these men who would attempt to do our country harm. We will not rest until the government of Afghanistan turns Osama bin Laden and members of Al-Qaeda over to U.S. authority. Thank you, and God bless America.”

The reporters immediately began yelling questions as Al walked off the stage. One of the benefits to having the press conference in the White House was that he didn’t have to go very far to reach his office. Waiting for him inside was John Kerry, the Secretary of Defense. “Mr. President”, he said grasping Gore’s hand.

“Alright John. Where do we stand militarily?”

“We have begun mobilizing ground and air forces sir. I truly hope we do not have to use them.”

“So do I John. But we have to make sure the Taliban sees that we aren’t going to just forget about Osama bin Laden and where the real threat lies. A ground invasion of a foreign country is the last thing this country needs right now. I want to expend every other option we have before we commit to an invasion you understand?

“Yes sir I do. I hear the new drones can fire missiles with far greater accuracy than their previous models. I would suggest that we use predator drones as our primary tool in Afghanistan. I’ll let you know immediately if we get a lock on bin Laden’s whereabouts.”

“Thank you John. Linda will see you out.” Gore sighed unhappily. The Republicans were already raising hell and claiming that his administration wasn’t doing enough. He briefly wondered, what would the Bush administration have done in this situation? No point in thinking about what ifs, though, when he had to deal with this very real situation.

 

§

 

 

Eric Chapman glanced at the calendar on his way out the door. Gore had already been president for a year. He found it hard to believe. 2001 had seemed to fly by so quickly. As he got onto the bus to take him to work he fell into thought. When Gore had been elected, a lot of people had cried that he’d be too liberal and would ruin the country. Some people were still complaining about him. Even after the Gore administration foiled the September terror plot, even after the U.S. brought those responsible to justice, hell, even after that drone had got Osama bin Laden in late October.

The Afghanis had almost burst a gasket when Gore authorized the use of predator drones to take out the Al-Qaeda mastermind. Eric didn’t have any qualms about that. The Taliban had held out against demands to go after bin Laden for as long as they could; was it any wonder that when he had the opportunity to get bin Laden, Gore hadn’t wasted a second ordering the strike?

With bin Laden dead and Al-Qaeda reduced to making feeble speeches about the next Jihad, people had lost interest in Afghanistan. The President got the man responsible and avoided a war, but some Republicans still seemed to think the country would have been better off invading Afghanistan and replacing the Taliban. 

Fucking idiots, he thought to himself. It was a good thing Bush hadn’t been elected, who knew the state the country might have been in then. The bus arrived at his stop. He got off and walked the short distance from the bus station to Pete’s. He’d been promoted two months earlier to waiting tables. It still didn’t bring in a lot of money but it was better than what he’d had before.

He walked in through the small side door meant for the staff and waved a greeting to the manager. “Morning Mr. Cook.”

“Good morning Eric. Go on back to the kitchen and grab yourself some breakfast.”

One of the benefits to working at Pete’s was the free food the staff enjoyed. Today, Eric grabbed himself a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon with a glass of orange juice to wash it all down. Thus fortified, he went out to the front of the restaurant and began waiting tables.

After what seemed like only a couple of hours, but was in fact closer to four and a half, Eric stepped outside for his quick lunch break.  One of his coworkers--a tall man of obvious Irish descent—was already outside, a pack of smokes in hand. “You want one?” he said, offering the pack to Eric.

“Sure”, Eric said and took one from the offered pack. “Thanks Pat. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You mean you might actually have to go out and buy your own smokes instead of bumming ‘em off me?” Pat said and was rewarded when Eric let out a startled laugh. For the next several minutes they made small talk and enjoyed their tobacco.

The conversation eventually reached politics. “I was reading an article the other about ways to prevent any more terrorist cells, like the East Coast one, from forming again”, Pat said. “There were a couple of really wild suggestions made by some Conservative group down in Texas. Can you believe they want to allow the government to wire tap phone calls without a warrant, all in the name of protecting average Americans?”

Eric took a long, meditative drag on his cigarette before he spoke. “People do crazy things when they’re scared man. Can you imagine the panic there would have been if we hadn’t broken that cell before they could get away with their plan? Not much point to worrying about what might have been though, if you want my honest opinion. There’s too much happening right now to worry about what ifs.”

Pat shrugged. “Yea I guess you have a point. And anyways, it’s not like those people down in Texas are gonna be passing any bills like that any time soon.” He crushed the butt of his cigarette under his heel. “I’m gonna head back inside. I can’t wait to get back to serving loud, annoying tourists.”

Eric let out a laugh at the sarcasm dripping from Pat’s voice before he too went back inside.  

 

§

 

President Al Gore leaned back in his chair. The fan above him lazily moved the air around his office. Beams of sunlight fell across the floor through the open window. In the distance, was the sound of horns honking. An airplane flew slowly over the White House. With the high speed rail system stretching from coast to coast, airplanes were becoming a rare sight.

Every day, more and more hybrids and fully electric cars replaced gas guzzlers on the road. Gore’s two terms in office had seen the country transformed. With the thriving economy and demand for jobs, green industries had no trouble finding enough people to work for them. Analysts predicted it would be another five to ten years before the United States would finally be able to throw off its dependency on foreign oil. Gore didn’t mind. He’d known it wouldn’t happen overnight: his first four years in office had been spent dealing with the situation in the Middle East, among other things.

He reflected on his administration’s triumphs over the years: The prevention of the September terror plot and Osama bin Laden’s head on a plate (actually, after the missile hit his car there wasn’t much left intact), the construction of the high speed rail that rivaled Europe’s and Japan’s, the many small victories that paved the way for the explosion of green industry and technology, the repealing of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy (he chuckled, remembering the looks on the Conservative’s faces when it was taken off the books), and the ongoing fight against global warming.

He was startled out of his thoughts by the Secret Service agent who poked his head into the Oval Office. “Mr. President. Your motorcade has arrived.”

“Thank you. I’ll be out in a minute.” Al Gore stood up. He took one last look around the office he’d worked in for the last eight years. Then he put on his coat and walked out the door to where the waiting Secret Service agents stood. “We have an inauguration to catch gentleman. I’m sure she’ll do as good a job, if not better, as her husband.” 


© Copyright 2018 John Turteltaub. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Unknown

More Historical Fiction Short Stories

Booksie 2018 Poetry Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by John Turteltaub

An Inconvenient President

Short Story / Historical Fiction

A Day in the Life of a Mojave Courier

Short Story / Action and Adventure

Popular Tags