Well, it’s been two years since the last US national election, and, as the Constitution prescribes, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate stood for re-election or replacement by the American voters. And since the Constitution also says the President gets elected every four years, we’re still stuck with Donald J. Trump, and I might add, also still stuck with an increasingly divided and querulous American public. It’s pretty clear now, that despite the passage of one hundred and fifty-three years and a complete reversal of the respective positions of the Republican and Democratic parties on racial and civil rights issues, the Civil War never actually ended. No, instead, like a case of herpes, it has come and gone, receding during times of relative calm and flaring up in response to stress, and right now, it covers the American body politic with a huge rash of fulminating sores. Our divisions now encompass not only skin color and states’ rights, but have grown, like a burgeoning fungal infestation, to include creed, culture, religion, class, economic status, foreign trade, sexual orientation, the status of the world climate, immigration, and the right to possession of various firearms.
Earlier this month, the people of the United States went to the polls and showed the world what two solid years of trolling, whataboutism and denigration of that sacred concept of free press mandated by the First Amendment can do to a couple hundred million fatuous, stupid, slap-happy ignoramuses wandering around like zombies staring at their cell phones. In this election it became clear that we Americans have met the enemy, and he is us. And so, once again, the moment has arrived for an inevitable biennial event. As always, new members of Congress have been calling me for the sort of advice and information not found in the traditional freshman briefings offered on Capitol Hill. And again, as I have every two years for quite some time now, I cry “enough!” Stop calling my home! Stop trying to shoehorn yourselves or your top banana into the appointment schedule at my office! You all ask the same questions, anyway, so here’s the Advice to Congressional Newbies post that I have taken to writing, like clockwork, following every national election. What you want to know about those “confidential issues,” the answers to your “discreet questions,” and the solutions to your “special problems” are all here. So read it. Okay, okay – if you’re a quasi-literate moron, say, a sniveling Trump sycophant or loudmouth radical Democrat rabble-rouser, for instance, have one of your flunkies read it to you and explain the big words. In any case, quit bothering me!
First, newly-elected senator or representative, you must fully comprehend that you are the one in the position of power. Lobbyists have no power, but that which they can purchase or suborn from you. Therefore, you should deal from a position of power. The lobbyist has but one objective, and that is to obtain a portion of your power for the use of their clients. Remember that to sell or barter your power away to others is to betray your hallowed trust to the American people, who elected you, and consequently to expose yourself to a great deal of risk.
It follows that you must sell the power that you are stealing from the American people at the dearest price you can possibly command. After all, if you do get caught, the amounts of payment and objects of barter for your power will be exposed. In short, the public will hear exactly for what you abdicated your sacred responsibilities to them, and they will weigh it carefully in their minds. Bear well in your own mind, then, that should they learn you betrayed them for a dozen six hundred dollar lunches, four tickets to the Masters golf tournament, seven Redskins box seats, a few trysts with ordinary sex workers available through advertisements in the DC newspapers, a couple of eightballs of cocaine and ten thousand dollars, they will consider you nothing but a sleazy, disgusting, reprehensible, amoral, low-life criminal hypocrite. And they will be right! On the other hand, if they hear it breathlessly reported by handsome and beautiful news anchors on every channel that you sold out for an extended series of five-star repasts in the far-flung capitals of Europe taken during a “fact finding mission” approved beforehand by your committee chairman, a three week great white shark hunt on the Barrier Reef while “researching” Australian trade agreements, twenty VIP passes to the Super Bowl while “investigating” repeated head trauma syndrome in the NFL, fifty trysts with known supermodels, all of which can be certified, in advance, as consensual, a kilo of cocaine found on your property, but not in your house, and twenty million dollars in Cayman Island bank accounts belonging to someone, but not necessarily to you, they will suspect that you have done wrong, but – and this “but” is a very important conjunction – they will realize that they, themselves, would have done just about anything in exchange for what you presumably got, and, at the polls, they will forgive you, even if the Attorney General of the United States has you running for re-election from a prison cell.
Because here is my point, newbie representative or senator: any lobbyist worth selling your public office to should be able to guarantee arrangement of all the qualifying conditions mentioned above. They should have enough established influence with Congress to ensure that your committee chairman signs off on your European junket without hesitation; enough clout with the USDA and Department of Commerce to make you an expert on Australian trade; enough pull with the Department of Justice and the DHHS to have them write letters actually demanding that you go to the Super Bowl to observe first hand the head bashing that turns pro football players’ brains to mush; enough contacts in New York, Paris, Milan and Hollywood to lay droves of willing, compliant supermodels at your feet; enough sources in the drug cartels and operatives in the private detective companies to assure delivery of heavy weight, pure Bolivian flake in a plausibly deniable scenario; and, enough moxie with the international financial machine to put at least twenty million dollars under your control without you having to admit to a single dime of it. If they can’t, to hell with them, because, obviously, they are more pathetic, bush-league stumble-bums at the lobbyist game than even you are at being a member of Congress.
A necessary corollary to that conclusion is an accurate recognition of your constituents’ perception of your role in Washington, which is to bring them federal money. Never make a deal with a lobbyist that affects one red cent of the funds you carve out of the national pork barrel for the folks at home. To do so will lose your next primary. Never mind worrying about losing your next election, because you will never get that far. This will be true even if you take the precaution of selling out for the highest price. So, rape your esteemed colleagues’ constituents instead. This is a time-honored Washington tradition, and it is an eternal verity that nobody ever got anywhere shoveling sand against the tide.
Now we must consider the correct etiquette for accepting bribes from lobbyists. You must bear in mind that they, theoretically at least, could get into a lot of trouble bribing you. Respect that. Use the perquisites of your high office to obscure the purpose of meetings, or, better yet, to define them positively as “outreach,” “background study” or “legislative analysis.” In addition, make sure that official records exist which present these excuses, which are legally protected by your Congressional privileges, in a believable fashion. Furthermore, come to accept the fact that lobbyists are not only very well funded by their clients, but also more worldly, and, by the very nature of their profession, more knowledgeable concerning bribery than you are. If you desire a good-looking female, male, she-male, trannie, he-girl or barnyard animal for an evening of perverse entertainment, don’t worry – any half-decent Washington lobbyist knows where to get them. For your part, it is incumbent upon you, the incumbent, to make sure they supply the best physical examples of those forms of erotic prostitution in return for your acts of political whoredom. While experiencing what you think will fulfill you, however, it is also your responsibility not to end up on the front page of the Washington Post afterwards. So, do not, as Congressman Wilbur Mills so legendarily did, take a dip with your Foxie Fanny in the Tidal Basin. Washington has more kinds of cops than Baskin-Robbins has flavors of ice cream, and if any of them spot you behaving like that, they will be professionally obligated to do something about it and, subsequently, file a written report. Cops hate to write reports, so give them a break, okay? If you think the residual guilt of having sex with someone (or some thing) provided by a lobbyist will make you behave like a gibbering lunatic, then do so in the basement of a private hunt club in Loudoun County, not downtown on the Mall. Also, note that lobbyists themselves will sometimes offer to perform sexual favors. You must always politely refuse and insist on something better. Otherwise, absolutely nobody will respect you in the morning.
Now, we come to the subject which truly lies at the heart of the matter, that, of course, being the issue of cash bribes. These should, ideally, be handled through an arcane, labyrinthine transfer of funds through offshore shell corporations, foreign private partnerships, anonymously-owned holding companies and Luxembourg law firms, resulting in clandestine foreign bank accounts to which only you have access. This is the way the Fortune 500 do it when they bribe foreign officials in order to get overseas business, and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for a member of the United States Congress. Ideally, you will wait until after you have left office, then quietly withdraw wheelbarrows of money. I know, however, it’s simply a fact of life that few, if any, senators or representatives can actually exert such patience, but never trust a lobbyist who does not first propose this method to bribe you. I am, of course, also aware that, for the new senator or representative, life in Washington can occasionally require large amounts of cash on an immediate basis. If that circumstance develops, here are some important DOs and DON’Ts.
DO ask for twenties. Fifties and hundreds arouse suspicion. DON’T drive to the bag drop in a car with Congressional license plates, dummy. If you are smart, you will own – or at least have access to – multiple automobiles, and while one will, of course, be a grand, ostentatious number with Congressional license plates, please recognize that at least one of others should be a cheap white Toyota Corolla or other such-like nonentity ride equipped with ordinary DC-issued plates. And while you aren’t required to have DC plates that say “Taxation Without Representation” on them, you should know that having those on your second car will definitely make you appear to be nothing more than an ordinary Washingtonian and therefore pretty much guarantee that you will be essentially invisible everywhere in the DC Metro area.
DO drive to the bag drop in your car with the ordinary civilian DC plates. And all right, if you are the dummy I was referring to (and there are plenty in Congress, believe me) who doesn’t already have access to, or own, at least one car like that, you have a choice. You can either (a) buy the second car described; or, (b) you can drive to Hagerstown, Maryland or Front Royal, Virginia, where none of the locals give a hoot about Washington and will never recognize your name as a member of Congress, and rent a car. Yes, there is a paper trail on a rental car, but if you get called on it, which isn’t likely, you can say that you had a flat during an excursion to a dinner theater, community arts center function or something, then suddenly realized you were right down the road from the car rental place and didn’t want arrive before the festivities ended, so you rented a car and then came back the next day and changed the tire yourself after returning the rental. No way they can ever prove you didn’t change the tire yourself, out there in the boonies, provided you make a nasty hole in one of your tires later at home and change it yourself. Just make sure that, after you pick up the money, you also show up at that Front Royal or Hagerstown dinner theater or arts center before the shindig is over and strike up a conversation with somebody who can alibi you in the future. Check the pressure in your spare first, of course, unless you feel like pumping it up manually in your garage. Obviously, strategy (b) doesn’t work if your name is a household word, like “Paul Ryan.” But he’s an experienced member of Congress and knows how to handle sticky situations involving anecdotes about automobiles, whereas you don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be bothering me for advice on how to get away with being bribed.
DO check the bills for marks. If you don’t know how banks and law enforcement mark bills, go to Red Hot Johnson’s in Anacostia after 11:00 p.m. any Friday or Saturday night. (Since first posting this advice, I have received a number of e-mails and other inquiries about Red Hot Johnson’s. And yes, the many folks who wrote me to point this out are quite correct. There is no night club in Anacostia called “Red Hot Johnson’s.” And BTW – don’t bother emailing me anymore, the volume got so great, I had to cancel the Quarterly Mailbag review. Sorry about that. Anyway, in actual fact, Red Hot Johnson’s is registered with the city as a private fraternal organization under another name. Nevertheless, everybody in Anacostia knows where it is. To find the location, just go to Anacostia, stop anyone you see on the street there, cordially address them in their quaint Anacostian Ebonic dialect and offer them the traditional Washington street-smart remuneration which is customarily exchanged for directions to a private nightclub. In local Ebonics, the honorific “Bee-atch,” derived from the Yoruba Creole phrase meaning “noble gentleman” or “gracious lady,” as the case may be, serves as the traditional friendly salutation to strangers, while the usual tip for directions to a private nightclub is twenty dollars. So, upon approaching the Anacostian, first say, “Yo, Bee-atch, what up?” Then, grasping a twenty dollar bill at each end with the thumb and forefinger of your right and left hands, indicate your familiarity with local social customs by snapping the bill smartly three times directly in front of your interlocutor, upside down with the White House facing them, about two inches from the tip of their nose, and continue with, “I be [Senator / Congressman / Congresswoman] [Your Name] from up on de Capitol Hill. Where da Red Hot Johnson at?” Occasionally, your entreaty will be snubbed. This is usually because the native Anacostian with whom you are speaking disapproves of your Ebonics. It’s rather like the behavior which some residents of Paris exhibit when American tourists try to ask where the Louvre is while using their rusty high school French. Fortunately, not all Anacostians are that particular, so if you fail, simply continue to approach people on the street with this routine until you experience other results.) When you get to Red Hot Johnson’s, ask for Big Dick, the back doorman. Tell him, “Shizzle ma dizzle, yo’ momma so stupid, she go in for jury duty and get convicted.” That’s the sign. He will countersign with, “What you talkin’ ‘bout my momma?” You counter-countersign with, “Just that she so fat, she got backup lights on her bedonkedonk.” (That’s “bee-DONK-uh-donk” by the way – I’ve gotten a lot of questions on how to pronounce it.) Then give him $100 and ask for “a markup job.” If you find any marked bills in your bribe, burn the whole pile thoroughly in your fireplace when nobody else is home and flush the ashes down the toilet, followed by two quart bottles of Drano Brand Max Gel and six bowls of water. Then avoid the lobbyist who gave you the marked lettuce like Breitbart avoids reality and simply tap another one for a pile of clean currency.
DON’T store the cash in your home freezer, your office safe, your intern love monkey’s apartment or your car. I mean really, come on. Think how stupid you will look if you get caught. DO arrange to receive the cash exactly at sunset, so it will be dark when you drive away. It’s the license plates, stupid. DON’T bring a paper sack for the money. The cash will be delivered in a brief case, a gym bag, or, if it’s a really big bribe, in a suitcase. The bag man will just hand you the damn thing. Don’t let him see you standing there with a paper sack – people talk, word will get around, and standing there with a brown bag like a pimply teenager loading groceries on the checkout line at the Safeway is guaranteed to make you look like a complete yokel. It will ruin your reputation with the other members of Congress, and they will snicker and roll their eyes when you walk by.
DO take advantage of the Washington area’s extensive park system. Know the official times for sunset on the days of your bribe drops. All the parks in the Metro area close at sunset, and the ideal drop occurs five minutes before. That’s because every park system in the area has at least a ten minute grace period following sunset, after which the responsible variety of park police – depending on which type of park it is – start searching for night activity. By the time they finish their doughnuts and coffee, you’ll be halfway back to your impressive downtown apartment – or whatever. DON’T use the overlooks or rest stops on the George Washington Parkway. Richard Nixon’s Watergate gang used them, and every single one has had surveillance cameras trained on it since 1977.
DO extend courtesy to Washington’s extensive foreign diplomatic and espionage community. Scout every prospective bribe drop point at least three times before using it, and do so at the time of day you intend to use it (i.e., five minutes before sunset). If you see other well-dressed, middle aged, nervous people showing up, giving you the hairy eyeball, then, by golly, that spot is taken already, and you should find another one. Don’t worry, there are plenty of places to go around. Just keep looking until you find one that isn’t already being used. Few things are more embarrassing in this town than expecting an attaché case full of cool, unmarked Jacksons and getting a choice selection of Top Secret Air Force orbital kinetic weapon design thumbdrives, a matched set of Russian nuclear bomb triggers, or a DVD with the authentication keys to access CIA plans for a clandestine biological weapons attack on artificial islands in the South China Sea. Plus, who knows, if they realize at the last minute you are member of Congress, you might get kidnapped or shot – while attempting to be bribed. Not good.
DON’T delegate the setup or the drop to anyone, least of all a member of your staff. In general, if you do, they will be able to make ten times as much money as your cash bribe by selling the story of how they slavishly served you, yes, admired you, idolized you, and selflessly sacrificed for you – you charismatic, scheming demon – until, at last, your evil finally got out of control, setting off a patriotic epiphany precipitated by a seemingly trivial but somehow revealingly sinister act on your part, transforming their souls, after which they saw, in a single bright, shining flash, that finking on you would make them rich and famous, yakking about their book on television while you rot in stir, and so prompted them to contact the FBI.
DO turn that cash around within 36 hours. Presumably, you need that wad to retire massive debts incurred by your secret, uncontrollable gambling habit; to pay hush money on your sordid past with people you would rather the public not know about; or to do something similar that requires complete confidentiality coupled with immediate and highly liquid funding. So get that unpleasantness taken care of immediately and get that pile of dead presidents out of your life before you see them staring back at you from inside a pile of big clear plastic baggies marked “EVIDENCE.”
DON’T take real estate instead of cash. Don’t take cars, jewelry, furniture, 3D UHDTVs, stereos, or any other merchandise instead of cash, either. Such items are highly traceable and by no means a suitable substitute for cash. Any lobbyist who offers you these things is most likely an FBI undercover agent or, more improbably, has less experience at their job than you do with yours. Either way, avoid them like the plague.
DO make random checks of your cash bribe for counterfeits. At the very least, get a counterfeit-detecting marker and swipe it on the bills. An hour scrutinizing your swag for other obvious signs of funny money is a good investment against your cash payoff backfiring on you, whatever the reason for it. If you don’t know how to spot counterfeit cash, look it up on the Internet, using the computers at a public library in Baltimore, Maryland, in Richmond, Virginia or some other place equally removed from Washington, DC (but not in your home state or district! You know your opponents have you followed around when you come home, don’t you?). If you find any counterfeit bills in your bribe, burn the whole pile thoroughly in your fireplace when nobody else is home and flush the ashes down the toilet, followed by two quart bottles of Drano Brand Max Gel and six bowls of water. Then avoid the lobbyist who gave you the fake simoleons like Mitch McConnell avoids truth, justice and the American way, then lean on another one for a pile of real money.
DON’T deposit cash bribes in a bank, even in a separate account, even under a pseudonym. No kidding, you might as well just turn yourself in. Look, you’re a member of Congress, not a scumbag pimp, inner-city meth dealer or some shady stolen-goods fence. No, those people have connections to launder suitcases full of dirty twenty dollar bills. You don’t. And you don’t need them, either, because the lobbyists who want to bribe you are supposed to provide illicit funds laundering services for members of Congress. If you find yourself holding a huge sum of small, unmarked bills from a lobbyist, it should be because you asked for that and have an immediate use for it. Otherwise, have your lobbyist launder the money for you. If they can’t, then find another lobbyist who can and sell out to them instead.
Finally, in conclusion, may I advise every new member of the House or Senate, that if you can’t eat the lobbyists’ fancy food, swill their expensive drinks, travel on their extravagant junkets, get totally blasted off their illegal drugs, screw the “escorts” they procure for you, take their bags of money; and then vote any way you damn well please afterwards, you don’t deserve to be a member of Congress.