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Rip Empson

Rip Empson

Posted: December 12, 2008 12:53 PM

Wherein I Imagine Obama's Transition Team Vetting Head Speechwriter Jon Favreau


Background: If you haven't seen the picture of Jon Favreau (Obama's head speechwriter) that emerged on Facebook of him and a friend groping a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton, see it here and read about the incident here.

Setting: Chicago, Obama's Basement, empty, dark, and threatening -- made to look like an interrogation room. Transition Team assembled therein, everybody wearing official "Team Vetting" hats and drinking Vitamin Water (Team's latest sponsor).
Time: 2 AM
Temperature: Cold

Scene: Vetter #1 (let's say John Podesta, 59, former White House Chief of Staff, currently Head of Transition Team) is seated in uncomfortable metal chair, addressing Jon Favreau (Obama's current 27-year-old speechwriter, rhetorical magician) seated across from him, who is also shifting uncomfortably in a foldable, metal chair.

John Podesta: "Hello Jon, thanks for coming."

Jon Favreau: "Sure, absolutely, not that I really had a choice... and was that blindfold really necessary? (He pans the room with a confused expression) Are we underground?"

John Podesta: "No, not underground, Jon. But let's not worry about our location, okay? We are nowhere, Jon, and everywhere. We are an Idea, we are a Belief... ha, I'm just pulling your leg, Jon, I've been reading your speech from the Convention again. Marvelous stuff, truly marvelous. Bobby would be proud."

Jon Favreau: "Right, thanks. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. (Still searching the room with his eyes) Hey, wait a second, isn't this Barack's basement with all the furniture pushed into the boiler room?"

Podesta: "No, no, no, ha, no. Don't be silly, Jon. This is for your safety. Standard Op for these things. Now, Jon, I assume you know why you're here. Barack has chosen you to be the Director of Speechwriting for his administration, Chief Wordsmith if you will. As I said before, we love the speeches you've been writing for him, terrific rhetoric, Jon, but seeing as this job carries great weight and responsibility, we need to make sure that there's nothing you've been hiding from us in your personal life that might come up at a later time to embarrass Barack and the White House. So we need you to be totally honest with us. No spinning, can you do that for us, Jon?"

Favreau, (squinting his eyes from the new set of lights that are now shining in his face, squirming in his seat): "Uh, yes ... yes I can, sure..." (he mumbles)

Podesta: "I'm sorry? Can't quite hear you..."

Favreau: "I mean yes, yes we can... sir..."

Podesta: "a Ha! Very funny Jon, very funny. Good, well, let's jump right in then... I'm sure you are familiar, Jon, with 'The Facebook' ... well, we'd like to know how you would say you spend your time on The Facebook, Jon... that is your real name, 'John'? ... Would you say you're a serious user, Jon? Use it to check up on old pals? Stalk ex-girlfriends? For the sake of full disclosure, please answer as thoroughly as possible, and look into the camera, it's a webcam Jon, straight to YouTubes..."

Favreau (knowing smile emerging): "Uh, wow, are you serious? Am I getting Punk'd? Did Ashton put you up to this? (Seeing that Podesta is soberly taking notes, quickly continues) Yes, of course that's my real name... uh, and as for Facebook, I've been known to dabble, not a big user, not one of those 'has-to-get-my-three-hours-a-day-of-pantsless-Facebook-type-people,' but I have played quite a few games of Scrabulous -- that's a game on Facebook, the word "Scrabble" combined with the word "fabulous" -- I believe that's what we call a 'portmanteau,' sir..."

Rahm Emanuel, (bursting out of darkness, clad in full camouflage, rushes up to Favreau, tilts his chair back until it's about to fall, holds him there, shaking his shoulders, yelling): "We know what a 'portmanteau' is, Jon, why are you hiding the truth from us, Jon? How many people have you 'poked', Jon? How many have been 'tagged?' How many walls have been 'graffiti-ed,' Jon, how many of those little yellow smiley-face-thingies have you put out there?!"

Favreau (shocked, worried): "Uh... uh... uh, well, I'd say I've poked three, tagged 20, never graffiti, that's for the heavy users, sir, and never employed any emoticons, sir, never, I swear. I don't think you can even find those on Facebook..."

Podesta: "God, I hate those cheery little yellow faces, my grand-daughter is always signing her emails with one. So very cloying, almost terrifying. Like Lego People faces...notice there were never any African-American Lego People..."

Favreau: "Emoticon, I believe that's another portmanteau, sir..."

Rahm Emanuel: "You hold your tongue, Word Boy, you hold your tongue."

Favreau: "Word boy? Hey, aren't we on the same Team here? Doesn't Facebook work for us...?"

Podesta: "Jon, let's skip the 'he-said, she-said' claptrap. Brass tacks: We know about the photo... the one posted to Facebook... the one of you dressed in Islamic garb... or was it with a bunch of college girls with a bong at Denny's...?"

Emanuel (cutting Podesta with his eyes, before saying under his breath): "No, Podesta, that was Barry."

Podesta: "Oh right, excuse me. Wrong folder. A ha! Of course, how could I forget? Yes, yes, the one with you and Senator Clinton, ahem, Secretary of State Clinton. You seemed to be 'cupping her mammary' if memory serves. (Suppressing a chuckle, quickly looking at Emanuel who is fuming, collecting himself.) Disgraceful, Jon, idiotic. How could you be so crude, so unaware? Were you in a frat, Jon? Do you have no sense of decency? And where in God's name did you find a cutout like that? The likeness is uncanny... Is that from Kinko's?"

(At this point, Emanuel thrusts the actual picture of Favreau forward...)

Favreau: "Oh, that picture. Well, uh, hmmm... (blushing)... I just thought that the Senator's brassiere looked, well, defective, so I was simply offering reinforcements. Ahem, yes, I dunno, it was like Justin Timberlake during the Half Time show with Janet Jackson. (Looks at Emanuel and Podesta, who are both stone-faced.) No? Doesn't ring a bell?

Yes ... we ... can ... ?"

Podesta: "Don't mock us young man, we've heard the faulty bra one before."

Favreau: "Look guys, I'm really embarrassed, totally at fault here. But you have to understand, I was at an Obama Team party, had been working non-stop, was just exhausted. And some Teammate started passing around the Mike's Hard Lemonade and these life-sized cardboard cutouts... you know how these things go... You have a few drinks, are hangin' with the bros, someone has a camera, and you start fondling a cardboard cutout of the future Secretary of State. I'm positive there were cutouts of Oprah and Olbermann circulating as well. Really, just bad luck that my buddy Beetle happened to capture me with Hillary. If it's any consolation, I treated every cutout the same, regardless of sex or ethnic background. You should see the pic of me cupping Michael Moore's knockers!...Hilarious..."

Emanuel: "Unbelievable. If you weren't Barack's 'go-to-guy,' I would suplex you right here, right now. You realize that some are calling on Barack to fire you for what you've done? What do you suggest we do?"

Favreau: "I know, I know. And I completely understand if Barack needs to pursue that course of action. But I trust that people will understand that I meant no harm, no disrespect... I was simply being ironic. I'm young and naive, new to this whole 'life under scrutiny' thing. It's hard for we young people in the world today, Rahm. We are so past each other's differences, want so badly to be united... from the jagged peaks of Colorado to the oil fields of Texas to the wrinkly coupon-clippers of Florida, I believe whole-heartedly in this nation and the latent capacity for unity that I believe to be intrinsic to its DNA. It was my mother who taught me when I was a little boy to..."

Podesta: "Wow, look at how he just turns it on like that..."

Emanuel: "Shut up, both of you."

Favreau: "Look, fellas, I just love the ladies and have infinite respect for Senator Clinton. I had no idea employers used Facebook to check up on potential employees. And I had no idea you guys would be on Facebook, I mean Barack, sure, but, wow. You guys have really gone all out here; I'm impressed. I'll have those pictures taken down right away. And hey, maybe we could out a few spies or something, have someone call Barack a 'Muslim'... give this a chance to blow over..."

Podesta: "Maybe he's right, Rahm. Do you know anyone in Illinois who might be able to stir up a distraction, a bit of a media circus...?"

Emanuel: "I'll see what I can do."

Favreau: "Look guys, no hard feelings. I will write a 30-minute apology-address to Hillary right now. And to clear the air, I'd like to share a joke I just made up...
Why did Ted Stevens lose his Senate race in Alaska?"

Podesta: "Hmmm... ethical laziness? ... Old age?"

Favreau: "No, no, no, he lost because...

'that's not change you can be-Steve-ens!'"

Podesta: "OMG, that's hilarious..."

Emanuel: "Wow, you are so fired. Get the @#$%! out. "