"Cope! Did you get that thing I sent you?"
"So, uh, gee, Bob ... do you mean that box of chocolates on Valentine's Day or that Internet link to salon.com?"
"I didn't send you no chocolates, Cope. I'm talking about the link to salon.com. You know what I'm talking about ... that article by Glenn Greenwald. The one titled 'Billionaire Romney Donor Uses Threats to Silence Critics.'"
"Why, yes. I do believe I got that link you're talking about. The one that says 'salon.com/billionaire romney donor uses threats to silence critics,' right? Yes, I certainly did get it. Uh-huh."
"And did you read it?"
"You mean, uh, did I read the article at salon.com? The one about how Idaho billionaire Frank VanderSloot threatens to litigate the bejesus out of anyone who questions the way he does things?"
"Yes, dips**t. That's the article I mean. Did you read it or not?"
"Uh, well, yes, Bob. I read it. I mean, the article at salon.com, about how Idaho's richest man uses his billions to intimidate reporters and publications and even small-time bloggers into silence if they dare publish stuff about him that's not favorable. I most certainly did read that article, yes."
"So what are you gonna do about it? You're going to write a column about it, right? Tell me you're going to write a column about it."
"Now, uh, are you asking if I'm going to write a column on that article at salon.com? The one where it does such a great job of explaining how Frank VanderSloot's lawyer goon squad has been able to get all sorts of reporting on VanderSloot or his Melaleuca pyramid outfit to just disappear? All because he's got so much money that no one can afford to fight his lawsuits? Is that what you're asking? If I'm going to write a column about that?"
"Yes, you tedious moron. That's what I'm asking. So are you?"
"Well, uh, no. I don't believe so, Bob. I'm not going to do any column on that salon.com article about Frank VanderSloot. I don't even believe I'll do a column where I mention that VanderSloot is, among other things, Mitt Romney's national finance co-chair."
"Cope, you can't let this pass! This VanderSloot is kicking the holy crap out of freedom of the press. He even tried to destroy an Idaho Falls reporter for doing a story on pedophiles active in the eastern Idaho Boy Scouts because it made the Mormon scouting officials look bad. God only knows how much clout he's able to buy in Idaho. Along with the Koch brothers and that Santorum backing Foster Friess d**k, VanderSloot's the kind of billionaire a**h*** who's making a shambles of democracy. I'm telling you, Cope, you simply can not let this pass."
"But Baaawwb, gosh. What am I supposed to do? I can't afford to get sued. Not even by a millionaire, let alone a billionaire. And I'm pretty sure Boise Weekly can't afford to get sued either. That VanderSloot has lawyers running out his cheeks, and not the good kind, either. Holy mackerel, Bob, if they can get publications like Mother Jones and Forbes to chicken out even if everything they said about VanderSloot is true ... as it explains so well in that article at salon.com ... then what do you expect they can do to a small-timer like me? The deal is, Bob, I only have so much money and it's got to last me 'til I croak. I can't be out hiring lawyers to represent me, no matter how easy it would be to prove VanderSloot is a vicious predatory plutocrat who buys influence like you and me buy socks. Bob, did you even read that article at salon.com yourself?"
"You know I did. Remember, I'm the one who told you to read it? Everyone in this state should read it, that article at salon.com. But I sure as hell thought you'd do something with it, Cope. You have a f***ing platform here, but you don't have the guts to use it!"
"Sure I do! I got guts! I got guts galore, Bob. You don't know how many guts I got. I got more guts than I know what to do with. It's just that, uh, you know, I don't want to get sued."
"Guts ain't guts unless you use them, Cope. You could learn a thing or two from that local blogger, Jody May-Chang, who ... as it explains so well in that article at salon.com ... is standing up against VanderSloot and his f***ing legal thugs."
"I agree with that, for sure. She's a superhero ... as it explains so well in the article at salon.com. But there's another thing I have to consider, Bob. What with VanderSloot's relationship with Romney and all, there's a part of this thing that says to me how much VanderSloot really, really, really, really, really wants a brother Mormon to be president. You probably heard how he's put at least 1 million bucks into Romney's campaign. And the last thing I need is a column on how ... the way a lot of people see it ... Mormons have a tendency to ... how shall I put this? ... be inordinately chummy with other Mormons when it comes to business arrangements. See what I mean? If I put everything I'm thinking about VanderSloot and Romney into a column, geemanee, I could have Idaho's richest bully and the Mormon horde mad at me. All at once."
"Then, dammit, let me write your column this week. I don't care who's mad at me, and I have nothing to lose in a lawsuit."
"But if he sued you, Bob, he might sue me too for allowing you access to my column space."
"Tell you what, Cope. I'll swear I snuck up and stole it from you while you were quivering like a hamster under your covers because you thought you heard a lawyer coming."
"Uh ... well ... yeah, OK. That oughta work."