Washington, D.C., April 30, 2001In an unprecedented hearing
before the Supreme Court at 2 a.m. this morning, the U.S. government
declared bankruptcy and shut down.
U. S. Attorney General John Ashcroft told the nine justices that
"the IRS money just didn't come in this year," that total IRS receipts two
weeks after the April 15 filing deadline came to $38.67.
"And the President," Ashcroft said, "spent that on a bottle of
non-alcoholic scotch to celebrate the success of his efforts to convince
Americans that their tax money belongs to them, not to government. I
mean, like, duh. If it's your money why send it to us?"
In a dramatic break from Supreme Court protocol, Justices Scalia,
Kennedy, O'Connor, Thomas, and Rehnquist high-fived one another.
Justice Ginsberg responded by saying "OK, bozos, who's going to
pay us now? You five adjudicated us out of a job."
As word of the shut-down spread, taxpayers were in a holiday mood.
"Is this great or whut?" said Lemuel Pangloss of Amarillo, Tex.
"When I tell my dumb wife our tax money belongs to us and we can do what
we damned well want to with it, she says we have to pay taxes so we can
have good roads to drive on. And guess whut? The roads this morning are
as just as good as they was last night. Do we have the best of all
possible presidents or whut?"
Pap Finn, a sometime resident of Hannibal, Mo., was lyrical in his
praise of the administration.
"This is what I call a govment," he said. "I'm gonna take that
money I was gonna pay taxes with and I'm gonna git me a jug. And better
not nobody mess with me this time. I got the president hisself on my
Flem Snopes of rural Yoknapatawpha County, Miss., was quietly
reflective when he heard that taxes really belong to taxpayers.
"Not that I ever paid my taxes anyhow," Mr. Snopes said, smiling
crookedly and spitting tobacco juice on a reporter's shoes, "but I reckon
now I don't have to lie about it. Although I got nothin' against lyin'.
Or stealin'. Or cheatin'. You know?"
Rep. Dick Armey (R-Tex), a longtime critic of what he termed "the
dirty, rotten commie belief that taxes are the price we pay for a
civilized society," was jubilant.
"I'm a professional economist," he said, "so I know what I'm
talking about. I've always said a taxpayer should keep his own taxes
because it's his money. Now we've got a President smart enough to
understand that and it's morning in America again."
In Washington, as the sun rose on a tax-free nation, citizens
celebrated by throwing stones through the windows of the Capitol. They
were unrestrained by police officers, 95 percent of whom stayed home when
they heard they could no longer be paid.
The Truth, Mainly
"That's just fine with me," said a happy vandal. "The cops have
been at the public trough long enough."
By mid-morning, the merry-making had grown so boisterous that most
government officials had fled Washington. Beyond the beltway, outgoing
traffic was tied up as far north as Philadelphia, as far south as
No commercial flights were taking off from Ronald Reagan National
Airport because air traffic controllers went on strike when they heard
they'd been defunded.
President Bush remained in high spirits and held an impromptu news
conference just before boarding Air Force One. The complete transcript:
"My fellow Americans. The area of big government is truly over.
Hell's bells, the area of government is over. And get this in your
stories: That is my legacy to the American people. We are no longer held
hostile by our taxes.
"I'm just tickled pink that the nation is following my leadership.
That's what presidents are-leadership. And I'm proud of the leadership
I've been getting as a great nationleadership our children can be proud
to grow up inside the boundaries of. The question foremost in my
presidential mind has always been 'Is the children learning?' And I think
after today we can all say that they is.
"Now I'm going to get out of Washington and go out to the
heartland. I call it the heartland because it's the land where people
have good hearts. Out where the real people love and enjoy their
admiration of an administration that lets them keep their own tax money.
Don't never forget: it's your money, not Washington's.
"And God bless America, stand inside her and guide her through the
light with the night from above."
Then the President saluted smartly and led his entourage up the
ramp to board Air Force One.
But it wouldn't take off. Air Force One, mover of Presidents,
embodiment of the nation's grandeur, symbol of power and dignity, was
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail