Monday, August 21, 2006

"Mr. President, we cannot allow a spaceport gap!"


Governor Bush
(muffled)
I keep telling you, General Turgidson, I'm not the President.

Gen. Turgidson
I'm sorry, sir, it's just that you exude so much authority I keep forgetting you're his kid brother.

Governor Bush
(muffled)
Stop trying to kiss up and get to the point.

Gen. Turgidson
Well, Governor, it looks like the Ruskies aren't the ones we have to worry about getting civilians into space first on regularly scheduled commercial flights.

Governor Bush pauses and turns to Turgidson with a sigh.

Gen. Turgidson
It's New Mexico!

Governor Bush
(yanks the inhaler away)
What?!

Gen. Turgidson
I know. I found it hard to believe myself. They got that Limey, you know, the guy that owns Virgin Airlines. What's his name?

Governor Bush
Branson.

Gen. Turgidson
Yeah, that guy. What is he, a lord or something?

Governor Bush
A knight.

Gen. Turgidson
Yeah, whatever. Seems he made a deal with New Mexico to build the first spaceport for his Virgin Galatic. Talk about gall. Hell, Florida should be the first place to do that! Not New Mexico, for crisesakes! When was the last time they ever launched somebody into outer space?

Governor Bush
Where is New Mexico?

Gen. Turgidson
Hell, Mr. President-- I'm sorry-- Governor, I had to look it up. It's next to Texas!

Governor Bush
I thought I heard of it.

Gen. Turgidson
Yeah, but that ain't the half of it. Texas is building a spaceport too!

Governor Bush
What?!

Gen. Turgidson
That's right, sir. They're building it on some guy's ranch.

Governor Bush
My brother's?

Gen. Turgidson
No, some guy named...
(whips out a notepad and starts reading from it)
Bezos. Jeff Bezos. He co-founded Amazon.com.

Governor Bush
You gotta be freaking kidding me?

Gen. Turgidson
I wish I was, Mr.-- Governor. But it gets worse.

Governor Bush
Should I be sitting down?

Gen. Turgidson
You already are, sir.

Governor Bush
(sighs)
Then go ahead. Let me have it.

Gen. Turgidson
Oklahoma is building one too.

Governor Bush
Oh, lord.

Gen. Turgidson
Do you know where that is, sir?

Governor Bush
(wearily waving his hand)
Yes, yes, it's somewhere out west.

Gen. Turgidson
(checking his notes)
So is New Jersey, Nova Scotia, Scotland, and some place called Manus Island.

Governor Bush
Where the hell is that?

Gen. Turgidson
Somewhere off of Papua New Guinea.

Governor Bush
You mean to tell me headhunters got the jump on us?!

Governor Bush grabs his inhaler, puts it over his nose and mouth, and takes a really deep breath.

Governor Bush
WHAWE STA-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-AND?

Gen. Turgidson
Excuse me, sir. I didn't quite catch that.

Governor Bush
(pulls the inhaler away)
I said WHERE DO WE STAND?

Gen. Turgidson
Well, sir, to put it bluntly, we have a spaceport gap. We're working on it, but nothing is locked down yet. Mr. President, if I may say so--

Governor Bush
(stopping in mid breath)
What did you just call me?

Gen. Turgidson
I'm sorry, sir-- Oh, why don't you just run for President, sir, and get it over with. Your brother even says you'd make a great president.

Governor Bush
(slowly, patiently)
And what have I been telling everybody including the press?

Gen. Turgidson
(sweating, looking sheepisly at the floor)
That you don't want the job, sir.

Governor Bush
That's right, and if I hear you call me that one more time, I'm going to demote you-- no, I'm going to kick you out of the Florida National Guard and then you'll have to get a real job and won't get anybody to salute you. Do you understand?

Gen. Turgidson
(loosens tie)
I do, sir, and I promise you that won't be necessary.

Governor Bush
Good, now please tell me how big this spaceport gap is?

Gen. Turgidson
(removing jacket)
Well, from what I can tell, sir, we still have a chance. New Mexico is putting up $200 million to build theirs from scratch in some godforsaken desert or something. Seems these things need a lot of space which kinda caught me by surprise. I mean, it's not like we're going to be launching them like rockets at Canaveral. Hell, they take off and land on a runway. I don't know, maybe those eggheads know something I don't but if it's supposed to be so safe and regular, what the hell do they need all that space for? I thought they'd be sharing runways with MIA.

Governor Bush
Get to the point, General Turgidson, before those New Mexicans finish building the damn thing.

Gen. Turgidson
Sorry, sir. Anyway, despite everything I've said, it ain't as bad as it looks.

Governor Bush rolls his eyes, shakes his head, and sighs.


Gen. Turgidson
We already got a runway! 10,500 feet of poured concrete right out in the middle of the goddamn f***ing Everglades!

Governor Bush
General Turgidson, must I remind you? This is not the White House!

Gen. Turgidson
I'm sorry, sir. I'll keep that in mind. I'm just so gaw...darn excited about what I discovered. The damn thing's been sitting there since the 1970's. Seems Miami was going to build a Jetport to accomodate the new SSTs that were coming. Because they were supposed to be so fu--freaking loud, they built it way out in the Everglades so no one could hear 'em take off and land. It's 36-miles west of Miami, man-- I mean, sir! They got as far as one single two-mile long runway before Congress killed the SST and a bunch of tree huggers killed the plan. They still use it, Mr.-- Sir. For emergencies and pilot training, you know, touch-and-goes.


Governor Bush
Are you trying to tell me in your own simple minded way that I don't have to ask for money to build a runway?

Gen. Turgidson
Well, I'm not sayin' it won't cost something-- maybe a few million dollars, ten tops. It doesn't have any lights and its got a critter problem.

Governor Bush
A "critter problem"?

Gen. Turgidson
Gators and the occasional deer get on the runway, but that can be rectified at little or no cost, sir, when you compare it to what those New Mexicans are going to have to shell out. Hell, Governor, with a little TLC, we can be launching civies in no time. Beat those New Mexicans at their own game.

Governor Bush
(pausing, staring into space)
I wonder how many mules it would take to get me and Columba's luggage out to their launch pad?

General Turgidson is taken back. His eyes blink uncomprehendingly as Governor Bush turns his chair slowly toward him.

Governor Bush
I'm joking.

General Turgidson
Oh, hey, and a very good one too, sir.

Governor Bush
General, before I leave office in January, I want that spaceport gap closed! Florida isn't going to get bushwhacked by a bunch of New Mexican Johnny-come-lately rocket jockies. Kennedy had nine years to get to the moon. I'm giving you five months. I want Columba and me to leave office with a bang, on the first regularly scheduled civilian rocket flight in the world-- from Florida. Do I make myself perfectly clear?

General Turgidson
(snapping to a salute)
Yes, sir!

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