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HOW TO BRIBE—OR RATHER, *INFLUENCE*—OR BETTER YET, *SUPPLANT* AMERICA'S POLITICIANS by the Coke Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus


by Smiley McGrouchpants


               Dapper as ever, Charles Coke™ strode up to the podium.  This wasn't one of his more, uh, reclusive moments.
               "Heidi — ho!" he said, cryptically, like that character on South Park (people dressed to the nines in clothes that could fund the NEA for 5 years, per outfit, turned to each other and shrugged Who knows? Maybe he likes it!).  He then added "America!" after leaning back for a bit, as though he honestly forgot, and then whipped out his handkerchief and mopped his brow, as though to say: Whew! Close one!
               "You will have no regrets . . . "  His voice booming around the amphitheater, in Dolby SR Surround-Sound (THX would have cost a smidge more, and put them out of "business expense" into "luxury."  So, fuck it, no tax write-off, why bother?  It wasn't even the money — really, it wasn't, who cares? — it was that sense of victory that was lacking . . . it just felt like you were folding your cards, and . . . ).
               Drifting off, Charles caught himself.
               "Wait, was that . . . OUT LOUD?"
               Everyone froze.
               Poker faces times twelve.
               Everybody held their breath . . . nobody wanted to tell him . . . 

                                                                     THE END

POSTCRIPT: After about an hour, King Coke left the podium without apology, without breaking the silence, and taxed all the attendees 1% of their year's income for "not showing sufficient spirit."  There were no dissents, no redress available to them.  Just doom.
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