The crowd laughs. I smirk.
As depressing as it is, who has time for real news anymore? I need a little laugh with my reality. I think I’ve earned that much. Sure, my poll numbers are down, but this could be the defining moment. How this goes today could determine whether I get re-elected.
And I guess it’s also important for the world. Whatever.
“Okay,” says Anderson. “We have communications open.”
I ask if we got the video working.
“Unfortunately,” Anderson says, “We haven’t been able to get video up and running, but we have sound.”
I ask if I’m going to get cut off like a cell-phone going through a tunnel, stressing that I would rather we be sure that all goes smoothly than rush into this and risk an interplanetary incident. God, I love that. I have to be the first president to say “interplanetary incident.” What a great time to be an American.
“It’s clean, sir, clearer than a landline.”
I tell him I didn’t ask about the sound quality, I asked about the reliability of the connection.
“I told you before, it’s not a phone, so it can’t really hang up. We’re transmitting our signal to them and they’re transmitting their signal to us, and each is independent of the other. You can talk at the same time, and you can mute your mic. If anything, there may be intermittent and minor static.”
I tell him to dial up the aliens, and I sit down at the microphone.
“Hello,” I say. “This is the president of the United States. On behalf of America and the entire world, I want to say-”
I stop and look at Anderson. I feel like I missed part of what they said. I mouth the word “delay” and shrug to Anderson.
He shakes his head and sighs.
“Excuse me?” I ask.
“Carbon. You have carbon?”
I clear my throat. “Um, yeah. We… we, uh, we have carbon.”
“We want carbon.”
I push and hold the cough button. I tell Anderson I wasn’t ready for this.
“I’m sorry, sir, there was a memo about this, actually. It seems that the only thing they ever ask about is… carbon.”
How am I supposed to read every memo? I was at a fundraiser today, Jesus. I think for a minute, then release the cough button.
“Is carbon dioxide alright?”
“How much carbon do you need?”
“As much as you can give.”
Well, they’re not bullies. “And what will you give us for the carbon?”
“You may live.”
“Let me meet with some scientists and we’ll get back to you about how much carbon we can give you, sound good?”
“You have until the end of the day.”
Wow, I’m glad I got up early.
Well, fucking brilliant. What more can I say than that? My advisors and I agreed we could spin this so that it looks like I negotiated a solution to global warming. It’s not giving in to demands if they take something we never wanted. That’s just business. And we got a hell of a deal on the service: free. Maybe I’ll say there was a price and extort some foreign money...
We contacted some climatologists and got their estimates on how much carbon dioxide we can afford to shed. Apparently, there is a lot of carbon dioxide up there in the atmosphere, since we can spare literally tons of the stuff.
So, I get on the phone with the aliens and we discuss our donation to them, then they hit me with the kicker: they’ll be back. Terminator style, hasta la vista, baby. I told them we would have more in 50 years, and they said 10. They’ll be back in a decade… not that I’ll care, because I will have served my second term.
Approval rating? Through the roof. Donations? Cha-ching. I’m in talks to get a Nobel Peace Prize, if I grease the right Euro-palms. I’m also in the process of deciding which actor will play me in the movie. And best of all, my kid’s asthma is better than it’s ever been. Those stupid aliens sucked it right out of the air for us. We just sat back and breathed a sigh of relief.
Except, of course, for the buzzkills. Already there is whining about how this will just encourage the burning of fuels, which have more pollution than just carbon dioxide. Or the people worrying about what we’ll do when we run out of oil. Hello? It’s called biofuel. But you know what? Thanks to me, there is a tomorrow to even worry about. At least, for the next decade.
But I’m 67… what the hell do I care about ten years from now?