Casting the President’s Cabinet

The United States has had a president, Donald Trump, who hosted his own reality TV show, The Apprentice. Ronald Reagan, who was both an ex-president and former California governor, was a movie star in the 1940s and ’50s. California had another governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, prior to serving, also was a Hollywood film star. Al Franken went from comedian and Saturday Night Live cast member to the US Senate. Show biz personalities, all. Minnesota even elected a pro-wrestler, Jesse Ventura, as its governor. And what exemplifies show biz more than pro-wrestling?

What, I wonder, would a presidential cabinet or gubernatorial advisory board look like if it were made up of show biz personalities, albeit fictitious ones, characters from the silver screen or TV? And what would their meetings sound like?

The President: The issue with China continues unresolved. We must find a solution before we leave. Secretary of Agriculture Lisa Douglas of Green Acres, where do you stand on Red China?

Secretary Douglas: Vel, dahlink, I am oppost to red china. I vill not sit down at a table vit red china. Eet must be a neutral shade. Off-white, maybe. Vot do you tink, Mr. Kotter?

Secretary of Education Gabe Kotter: I disagree. As my student Barbarino says, ‘Up your nose with a rubber hose!’ Neutral tones are boring. Red china is fine with me. Or another strong color, like—

Secretary of Commerce Gordon Gecko: Green! Green is good. It’s the color of money. You can’t have too much money. Greed is good. What do you think, Secretary Potter? You come from Bedford Falls where that red is so popular.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs Potter: I hate Bedford Falls red. It’s everywhere. In the bricks. In the chairs at Bailey’s Building and Loan. Even the ornaments on George Bailey’s Christmas tree are that damn color. But green? Yes. Green. It’s a wonderful color.

Secretary of Defense Mr. T: I pity da fool who wants green. I’d go for a neutral color. Maybe a light gray. Yeah. I’m on the gray team.

Secretary Douglas: I steel don’t tink red china vud be gud. Vat do you tink, Madame Secretary of State? Didn’t you bake dat vunderful sheet cake all Mississippi vas talking about? Even the help.

Secretary of State Minny Jackson: No, Secretary Douglas, it wasn’t a sheet cake. It was a shit-pie. They thought it was a normal chocolate pie, but—

The President: And that is why she is the Secretary of State.

Secretary of Homeland Security Barney Fife: (Impatiently, nervously) What’s it gonna be? Red? Or green. Or neutral. Hmm?Hmm? Chop chop. I don’t have all day. I have a country to keep secure. Right Andy?

Secretary of Health & Human Services Doogie Houser, MD: (His voice cracks) Who’s Andy? Oh, damn. My voice is changing.

Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Radar O’Reilly: Has anyone considered camouflage pattern dishes?

Attorney General Atticus Finch: Wait. Are we talking about Red China or red china? Because if it is the former, the dishes must be neutral, like eggshell or ivory. We must appear neutral, unbiased. But if we are discussing plates, we can’t be choosing between colored and white. It can’t be an either/or situation. We must be inclusive. Finch pauses and taps his pipe on the table. I’m curious what do you think, Mr. Secretary of Labor? Your work in Modern Times certainly qualifies you to lead the Department of Labor, but I don’t know what to call you, sir. Charlie Chaplain? Or the Little Tramp?

The Secretary of Labor shrugs his shoulders, shuffles his feet under his chair, and looks bewildered.

Attorney General Finch: And why are we still calling it Red China? Didn’t we stop doing that decades ago?

The members of the Cabinet gaze around the room with “I don’t know” faces.

Secretary of the Interior Alvy Singer: (Breaking the awkward silence) My ex-girlfriend Annie Hall and I had lobster once. Yeah. Annie Hall and me. Lobster. Oy, was that an ordeal! The pot. The bibs. The boiling. My shrieking. Anyway, I’m sure she served it on gray Chinet. And my mother used Chinet. She served gefilte fish, latkes, kreplach, everything on it. She would only use the red china for the Passover seder. As if we didn’t deserve the good china every day. And you wonder why I’m so insecure, such a nebbish. You have no idea the mother-baggage I carry. It could fill an airport carousel. Secretary Singer pounds the table with a fist. He startles himself. Secretary of Labor Chaplin/Little Tramp tumbles from his chair. So, if Chinet is good enough for my mother and Annie Hall, it should be good enough for our visitors from Red China. I mean China.

The President: OK, then. I’ve listened to your input and I’ve made a decision. Chinet it will be. Some red. Some green. Some off-white. Maybe a few gray. Now, what about the wine? Red?

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