(With apologies to Ian Fleming, Cyril Connolly, and Leslie Bricusse.)
A David Axelrod Film
False Priorities USA
(A Chicago Values Company)
Piers Morgan as James Bond
Chris Rock as President Obama
Christian Bale as Mitt Romney
Steve Carrel as Paul Ryan
George Soros as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
And introducing Sandra Fluke as Frenchie Galore
As the credits roll, we hear Nancy Pelosi singing her hit version of “You Only Vote Twice”
You only vote twice,
Or so it seems –
One vote for yourself
And one for his Dreams.
You work through the years,
And life seems fine.
The One then appears,
And Hope is his line.
But Hope is a danger
That beckons you forth.
Don’t vote for the stranger
Or your dreams go not North.
This vote is for you –
Don’t pay his price.
Make your dreams come true.
You only vote twice.
From the credits we go straight to the opening scene:
Scene: Penthouse suite of the Underwater Four Seasons Hotel in the Maldives
Time: The present
Bond pretended to be studying the agenda, but his multi-faceted contact lenses, modeled by Q on the eye of the common house-fly, enabled him to identify all the participants at SPECTRE’s weekend summer school.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld, his old adversary, occupied his customary place at the head of the table. Frenchie Galore, drawing on her poison-tipped cigarette holder, sat opposite Bond, gazing in a puzzled way at his recently shaved legs. Putin was there too. Also Mugabe, Chávez, Khamenei, and whoever the Chinese were saying was their ruler that month. The first item on the agenda was a plan to steal the U.S. election.
Bond cursed his luck. Only 48 hours before, he had been on leave, driving his supercharged Rolodex XJ7 through the picturesque Akond of Swat when the call came from M to get to the Oval Office the next day at noon. There was no explanation except this: “We’ve neutralized a top SPECTRE operative for 72 hours. You’ll go to its secret meeting instead. The disguise is not ideal, but it’s the best we could do on short notice.”
That was M all over.
Bond commandeered one of the new Vermin P45 aquajets and made it with ten minutes to spare. He was ushered in to see the president right away.
“They tell me you’re the best, Commander Bond,” said the president wearily. “You’ll need to be. The man I want you to stop is a threat to the prosperity and very existence of the United States and the Great Kingdom of Britain. He is posing as the presidential candidate of the Republican party. His name is Mitt Romney.”
“The Mormon from Massachusetts?” asked Bond innocently.
“Mormon? He knows no religion,” replied the president, and he shuddered.
“But he’s not secular or agnostic either,” the president added hurriedly. “He’s bitter, that’s it. And twisted. They say that when he offered to sell his soul to the Devil, it was the Devil who asked, ‘What’s the catch?’ That should tell you something.”
Bond felt dirty, as he always did when getting enmeshed in politics. He wished he could be doing something decent like entrapping homosexuals. But the president had worse tales to impart.
“Nor is he from Massachusetts. He stole that identity. He’s a Bulgarian Nazi who fled Berlin with secret drugs for rejuvenation and advanced techniques of plastic surgery developed by German scientists in the last ten days of the Reich. Though he is in fact 104, he looks an astoundingly youthful 45 — the same age that the poor Mormon missionary kid would be if he had not . . . ”
The president’s voice trailed off disconsolately.
Bond was puzzled. If the White House knew all this, what was preventing them from putting a stop to this fake Romney? In the good old days, the plumbers would simply have followed him late one night — a tap on the head with a mallet, a fall from some convenient bridge, a splash in the Potomac, and hey presto! World War III averted. But we were going soft. It was all subpoenas, evidence, proof, and telephone calls to a lawyer these days. Sometimes Bond admired the Romneys of this world, who knew what they wanted and went for it. Still, surely there is something we can do?
The president seemed to read his mind.
“There’s nothing we can do,” he said. “He’s too darned clever for us. We were on the verge of getting him, within days of tracking down his Bulgarian birth certificate. He must have found out, because his agents fanned out over America alleging that my birth certificate in Hawaii was fake and I wasn’t a U.S. citizen eligible to hold high office. Everyone mocked them, of course. Our own people trashed them more than anyone. So it was impossible for us to make the same allegation about Romney. He’d closed off that option.”
Bond almost whistled. It was the most brilliant “spoiler” operation he had ever come across. M himself could hardly have done better. But he was brought back to earth by the sight of the president sinking into the chair behind his desk, anguish and fear written on his features.
“I’m desperate, Commander Bond, desperate,” he said, head in hands. “You must help me. You must find Romney and render him inoperative. Of course, I’m not suggesting anything violent or illegal or likely to offend people of a sensitive disposition. But, please, do something, anything. Don’t let him take it all away from me. Once I was cool. I want to be cool again.”
“And so you shall, Mr. President,” said Bond, turning away to hide his feelings. He hated to see a president cry. He left the White House at once and, with Felix Leiter as his guide, set off to Georgetown wondering where in this desert of small-town puritans he might find a Victoria’s Secret peephole bra, an Agent Provocateur basque, and a pair of black fishnet stockings from Frederick’s of Hollywood.
Twenty-four hours later, Bond was feeling distinctly uncomfortable at the underwater annual general meeting. He had never been enthusiastic about infiltrating SPECTRE disguised as Lady Gaga. Her costume left almost no room for Q’s gadgets. He couldn’t sing — well, that wasn’t such a problem. He had to share a room with Frenchie Galore and, though he believed he had finessed them quite well, there had been some tricky moments in the shower. Now she was gazing at his legs again. Was there tell-tale stubble on his calves?
Fortunately, Blofeld called the meeting to order and everyone turned towards him. He stroked his white cat impatiently and pointed. There was still no sign of Number Two, who was to report on agenda item one. Blofeld was notoriously short-tempered, and the average lifespan of a SPECTRE Number Two was numbered in weeks rather than years. Bond was still uncertain about Number Two’s identity, but he was also beginning to feel that it didn’t really matter. If it was Romney, Blofeld would probably do the world a favor before the hour was out.
Two minutes later Mitt Romney entered the room, followed by an eager young intern, and took Number Two’s seat.
“You’re late, Number Two,” said Blofeld.
“No,” replied Romney curtly. “You were early.”
With an effort, Blofeld controlled himself and gestured an instruction for Romney to make his report. Romney began an impressive PowerPoint presentation on “How to Profit from the Coming Apocalypse.” He had arrived at a key point about how changes in Medicare and Social Security would yield billions in profits for SPECTRE by 2016 when Blofeld interrupted with a malicious smile.
“And how exactly?”
“Cigarettes,” replied Romney smoothly.
Blofeld was not the only one around the table to react with incredulity. Putin, Mugabe, Khamenei, Blofeld, and even Frenchie, terrorizing the monsters around her as she excitedly waved her poison-tipped cigarette holder, all shouted back, “Cigarettes?” at an imperturbable Romney.
“Yes,” he responded. “Cigarettes. Gaspers, fags, coffin-nails, stomps, smokes — call them what you will. We cut the price by reducing the tax to the optimal level at which it yields the greatest revenue by increasing cigarettes’ share of the drug market, watch the proceeds roll in, count the falling costs of Medicare and Social Security, and bank the proceeds in, ahem, the Cayman Islands.”
Blofeld looked incredulous still, but also strangely joyful. He could see his rival had made a fatal blunder. Almost sweetly, he asked exactly how the figures all added up.
“Ryan,” said Romney, “the abacus.”
The young intern stepped from the shadows carrying an instrument with a wooden frame housing several iron rods on which a series of colored beards rested. Remembering how Le Chiffre had tortured him with the bottomless chair, Bond involuntarily shuddered. How many poor devils had died racked with pain on this instrument of torment? And he couldn’t help noticing that as Ryan took the abacus into his hands, his deceptively boyish smile was transformed into a look of cold, merciless calculation. He said:
“The underlying social truth that we are exploiting in this plan was well expressed by Professor W. Kip Viscusi of Harvard Law School and Vanderbilt as follows: “At least from a societal standpoint, smokers actually save us money because they die sooner, and if you have a pension plan, they’re a bargain. It’s a morbid thought, but that’s the way it plays out.””
“Professor Viscusi is not on our payroll, unfortunately. And he said this in public. So we have to act quickly before others act on his work. Suffice it to say that the billions lost in lung cancer and other health costs are massively outweighed by the trillions saved in costs foregone on pensions and geriatric health costs. Tobacco is a fiscal life-saver. ”
Ryan, smiling again, backed into the shadows. There was thoughtful silence throughout the room. Romney resumed his stance at the podium.
“May I now be permitted to continue without constant interruptions,” he said tersely and looked around. Meeting no objections, he continued: “Our second step in resolving the Medicare and Social Security problem is the promotion of obesity. I need hardly tell the people around this table that this promotion is extremely successful.”
Bond sucked in his stomach and thanked God that the Basque actually seemed to do something for his waistline. Maybe Turnbull and Asser could run up something less frilly for him in their Jermyn Street hideout. They worked with Q from time to time, didn’t they?
But Romney was proceeding.
“Our e-coli promotion was too bold and had to be discontinued. It is essential that no one should suspect that SPECTRE is behind food epidemics. The people must seem to choose obesity voluntarily. Here I must congratulate Ryan for his ingenuity in provoking the gay community into boycotting Chick-Fil-A. He saw that this boycott would in turn provoke a mass Middle American eat-in at this chain of restaurants. He proved correct. Some credit must also be given to our double agent, Rahm Emannuel, who ratcheted up the public’s indignation by his seemingly clumsy interventions. This was an unqualified success. Obesity has rolled a large step forward.”
The room was still quiet but also rife with tension. Seemingly oblivious to the charged atmosphere, Romney went on: “Our third step is to stimulate consumption of illegal narcotics throughout the U.S. and so . For that we propose to build an impenetrable fence along all our land borders.”
Blofeld intervened gently: “But don’t we import narcotics over the border?”
“Yes,” replied Romney as if talking to a child. “And so do our competitors. Porous borders allow anyone to bring narcotics into America. We want the U.S. government to control the borders because we intend to control the U.S. government. When we do, SPECTRE will be the only narcotics import-export business in the Americas. And our business will be perfectly legal even if it’s illegal.”
Blofeld sneered. “You call those master-plans, Number Two? Cigarettes? Fast-food outlets? Border fences? Where are the death rays from outer space? The colonies on the moon? The climate-change accelerators? I insist that you be more realistic. Do not try our patience any further.”
Bond watched Romney’s face. It remained quite expressionless. But his fingers tapped out a curious tattoo like a Morse code on the priceless Liberty rhinoceros-horn coffee table by his side.
Even as he tapped, the white cat on Blofeld’s lap jumped at his master’s neck and savagely tore off a chunk of the tender flesh. Blofeld fell soundlessly forward onto the floor, blood gushing from his severed artery, life ebbing quickly from his body, his Anderson & Cooper Savile Row jacket ruined beyond repair. The white cat stepped delicately over the pool of his blood, trotted across the bridge over the fish pond, and consented to be picked up by Romney and fed some smoked piranha.
“Gentlemen,” Romney said, covering up the awkward silence.
“Ladies,” he nodded to Frenchie and Bond.
“Let’s not waste time on a eulogy. We’ll go straight to item two on the agenda — our policy on nuclear proliferation. Who handles that? Oh yes, Osama, welcome back. May I offer condolences to the family of your double, and also congratulations on your own plastic surgery? Not even Hillary could tell the difference.”
The others applauded. Bond glanced around, looking for an exit strategy. But he knew he would never get the knack of these high heels. And the ballot boxes, piled high on all sides, blocked every escape route.
An excerpt from the forthcoming You Only Vote Twice.
— John O’Sullivan is editor-at-large of National Review.