"Nice to meet you, Ron," said the jovial-looking angel behind the reception desk.
"Same here, St. Peter," said the latest arrival. "I can't wait to meet the Commander-in-Chief," he added with a wink.
we need to go over a few points," said St. Peter. "Can you tell me about your proudest accomplishment?"
"No problem. I turned the United States into a conservative country."
"Really? Was it hard?"
"Well," said Ron, "it took a bit of cleverness. Everybody thought I was a wonderful guy. Nobody suspected I was clever — not even Nancy. That helped."
"So I ran for office calling for a return to conservatism. We had to improve national defense, and cut those budget deficits."
"And you did win the election, and the country definitely turned more conservative."
" Yes, but there's more to it than that," said Ron. "Every president claims to be undoing the mistakes of the guy that was there before. But I went one better."
"Well, instead of eliminating the budget deficit, I doubled it."
"Doubled? The whole thing?" the angel asked incredulously.
"Yeah — all the debt since Washington. Even more than that. Maybe tripled."
"Didn't that make people mad?"
"Sure," said Ron. "But not at me. People liked me. And after all, I was the leader of the campaign for a balanced-budget amendment. No one could knock my credentials. Everyone thought the deficits were Carter's fault."
"Quite a trick!" laughed St. Peter. "Weren't you the president who cut taxes on the theory that it would raise more money for the federal government?"
"And didn't you radically escalate military spending?"
"...And launch a trillion-dollar program to put the cold war into outer space?"
"Yes, yes, that's me!" rejoined Ron. "And so, thanks to me, Americans have no choice but to go on electing conservative presidents indefinitely, to clean up the mess that I — I mean Carter — made."
"Brilliant!" St. Peter exclaimed. "And America will be paying for this forever?"
"Yes, absolutely. The only way to undo my administration is to do exactly what I was supposed to do. And that will take decades."
"You really pulled one over!" St. Peter said, wiping a tear of laughter from his eye. "Now why don't you just step into that express elevator."
"Great," said Ron. "I'm dying to meet Calvin Coolidge. Uh, the up button?"
"That elevator doesn't have one," St. Peter replied.
RICHARD MULLEN is a Bay Area Mensan who lives in San Francisco and runs a small public relations firm in Belmont.
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