Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS! Yes, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS! A mild-mannered, chisel-jawed congressman; raised by a secret Chamber on a nearby planet and returned to mid-Michigan as a young child; afforded earthly protection by Gannett and nurtured by the Press-Argus; self-styled super-hero to the working family! He’s faster than a sleight-of-hand magician with ADD, able to change colors so fast as to make a chameleon blush, more powerful than a corporate PAC, able to control the press with a single release! Yes, it’s CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, the unabashed symbol for spin, injustice and the multi-national corporate way!
And now on to our hero’s latest adventure….
It was a somber Tuesday morning deep below the White House in the Situation Room. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Pentagon military brass predicted that between 300,000 and 400,000 troops would be needed to control the aftermath of removing Saddam Hussein. The president and vice-president, with cheerleader Don Rumsfield completing the unparalleled circle of arrogance, ignored the professionals and decided to invade on the cheap. Now, some four years later, with the “not really a civil war” raging in Iraq and the recent Democratic takeover of Congress, the White House inner circle was in trouble.
They couldn’t announce any kind of withdrawal, since it would be perceived as an admission of error and everyone in the administration knew that they were never wrong. The war was increasingly unpopular; even the old GOP warhorses in Congress were turning against the President. The mood in the Situation Room was dark indeed. The Administration was nearing rock bottom. What to do? Sighing, the President knew he could no longer rely on Dick Cheney for guidance. The ongoing trial of Cheney’s friend and confidante Scooter Libby had brought the Veep close to the breaking point. Clearly off his medication, Cheney sat near the large television screens in the corner repeating, “I am the Vice-President of the United States and I don’t have to answer your question. Would you like to go hunting?”
“Dick,” the President said, “we have no choice. It’s time to make the call.” He reached for the hotline and heard a calm, confident voice with a gee-whiz accent saying, “You can always count on me, Mr. President. I’ll be right over.”
Hanging up the shiny red phone, The Captain felt a swell of pride at being called to serve again. He rushed out of his congressional office and arrived unnoticed at the loading docks. Slipping into a small janitorial closet, he emerged seconds later, red cape waving, red and white Joe Boxers adorning his ample midsection. He’d had to give up the tighty-whities a few years back, since he, like most middle-aged K Street beneficiaries, had to contend with the spreading waistline that resulted from the pounds of filet, lobster and other lobbyist-sponsored treats. Gosh, he thought sadly, why can’t all those free lunches be calorie-free, too?
The Captain had sensed the president’s fear, and knew just what to do. After all, The Captain was an Expert in All Things. It was his special gift, the result of his upbringing on the secret planet. The Chamber had spent years honing his ability to respond instantly, with a confident tone and a small-town grin, as an expert on any topic at all. Defense policy, football, currency manipulation, medicine, agriculture, chemistry – it didn’t matter what the subject was. The Captain knew that with his special skill, his fact-free statements would be reported without any pesky questions.
The uninitiated, especially the media, saw him only as being “a great politician,” but he and The Chamber knew better. How could it be explained otherwise? The press and all the media were not capable of understanding. Their attention span lasted only as long as the last edition or yesterday’s news. It was actually easier this way. Keep it simple. They could always be relied on to not ask the real questions. And they could certainly be relied upon not to ask how he came to be an expert in so many, even very complex areas.
Back in the Situation Room, the president’s tension began to ease. He knew that he could rely on The Captain. A few years ago, as the situation in Iraq was just beginning to deteriorate, The Captain helpfully declared that the streets of Bagdad were as safe as those in any major American city! And that Iraq was going to be a virtual “gold rush” for American business! Neither statement was true, but the press didn’t notice. And they certainly didn’t remember it when reality later contradicted The Captain. The president smiled, remembering The Captain’s quick responses during the recent mid-term elections, when the party was in trouble. The Captain had proclaimed for all to hear that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq was going very well, and the media nay-sayers could safely be ignored. After all, The Captain was a military expert.
The president’s smile grew into his trademark smirk as he recalled a report on The Captain’s daring triple-expert morph. At a local Chamber of Commerce meeting in mid-Michigan, The Captain first transformed himself from an aw-shucks local boy to an ambassador-at-large, bravely wading into the complex conflicts of the Afghan-Pakistan border to negotiate agreements with local tribes. Then he became a secret agent, carrying a secret message from a CIA officer secretly working in Afghanistan back to the officer’s family in the U.S. He rounded off this dazzling display by becoming a world historian with a map of Europe and Asia illustrating al-Qaeda’s dastardly plan to take over a third of the known world. The audience shivered with fear as he described how the world’s supply of Chianti would be drastically affected with al-Qaeda’s takeover of Italy. They nodded somberly as he told them how their Riviera vacations would be disrupted by radical mullahs swarming into France. Mesmerized, the audience ate it up. The Captain is an expert, they told themselves, so it must be true! Of course, the basic facts he’d presented wouldn’t have survived the scrutiny of an eighth-grade geography student, but once again The Captain’s expertise left no room for doubt. No one asked how a CIA officer could conceivably not be in direct communication with Washington. No one asked how al-Qaeda would unite Islam and take over the world, even though it was plain that Sunnis and Shias were increasingly killing one another. All were under the spell of The Captain and his expertise.
Nodding to himself, the president realized that he really didn’t know how The Captain could so convincingly transform himself into an ambassador, secret agent, or world historian. All he knew was that it worked. And more importantly, he needed The Captain once again.
Cape and boxers swirling in the breeze, The Captain arrived in the Situation Room. He found the leader of the free world seated at the head of a large table, wearing his usual smirk. The President could relax, knowing that all would soon be well.
“So Captain, you know where we’re at. What do we do?” “Gee, Mr. President, it’s pretty darn simple” replied The Captain, completing his instantaneous transformation into an expert military tactician. “We need to rearrange the troops. Just move 4,000 of our troops from Bagdad out to Anbar province and turn the security situation in Bagdad over to the Iraqi army. That will eliminate the need for any escalation, um, I mean ‘surge’.”
The president looked puzzled. “But didn’t you say the streets of Bagdad were as safe as any of our major cities? Won’t it look like we are merely ‘rearranging the deck chairs’ on the Titanic?” “Mr. President,” replied The Captain soothingly, “that’s not how it will go. Look. The public is increasingly opposed to escalation, sorry, I mean ‘surge.’ We can’t afford to be seen screwing this up and not supporting the troops, so we can’t withdraw. And we can’t answer any real questions, so we just attack the questioner. Call them unpatriotic. Talk about how we have to all work together. Drop the shrill politics. The election is over. Work together for a solution. I mean, come on, sir -- has it ever NOT worked before? I’ll have my ventriloquist, um, assistant issue a press release and they’ll eat it up. No questions asked. And most importantly, they’ll look the other way and we’re off the hook. ”
And so it was done. Captain Underpants issued his press release and thereby saved the President. He was immediately lauded by the media for his insightfulness and military expertise, and the people once again proudly proclaimed throughout the land what a fine representative they had in Washington, D.C.
STAY TUNED FOR ADDITIONAL ADVENTURES OF