"Tells me sum't'in', Cope. Was yew seer-yus 'bout Hil'ry Clindun bein' pres'dent? 'R was you juzz lookin' f'r anudder way t' git outa egg-gnaw-leegin' Jerge Bush's glur-yus vick'ry in Eye-rack?"
"What are you talking about, Red?"
"See'ns hows y'r last few calm-numbs was such silly stuff ... hows dat one was the six-hunert and sixty-six t'in' what you dun wrote, 'n b'fore dat, how yews was startin' up a club what'd makes folks b'have better, 'n den t' top it all off, yews claim we gots t' elect Bill Clindun's ol' lady f'r pres'dent ... wull, ahs figger it were all a ways t' avoid writin' 'bout how Jerge Bush's big soldier surge dun won d' wahr an' now yews Dem'crats ain't got nuttin' t' bitch 'bout!"
I could kick myself. This time, Red hadn't come to me. I'd gone looking for him, so I had no one to blame but myself. The deal is, I was reading over some of my old columns—like from 10 ... 12 years back—trying to make sure I wasn't writing the same crap over and over again. It's something I have to do, increasingly, because I can't always remember what I said 500 or 600 columns ago. See, my worst nightmare is to end up sounding like some geez who forgets that a mere five minutes earlier, he'd already told you about (for instance) how he used to be able to fill the tank of his Studebaker, go see a Gene Autry movie, and buy him and his date a grilled cheese sandwich and a Dr. Pepper on the way home, all for under a buck. I mean, eventually, that's what I'll be sounding like, sure. But not in print, by God! Not if I can help it!
Anyway, as I was re-reading some of Red's columns from over the years, I couldn't help but notice how much his speech has deteriorated. Why, even five or six years ago, Red could say something like, "That George Bush fella is the best thing to happen to America since the atom bomb!" without it coming out, "Dat Jerge Bush fellerz d'bestus t'in' whats hap'nin' t' 'Merica since d' 'tomicist balm!"
I became quite alarmed, actually, thinking it possible that Red was suffering from some progressive affliction that slowly impairs whatever part of the brain it is that controls language. He had never in his life sounded like the captain of the Harvard debate team, that's for damn sure, but he had not always sounded like the town drunk of Hillbillyville, either. So I drove out to his llama shed in Melba to try to coax him into having his neural network checked out, and to be entirely honest, it wasn't only for his sake that I made the effort. I fear that if his enunciation gets much worse, I may soon be unable to translate onto paper anything he says—which would leave me without my go-to guy when it comes to presenting the conservative angle on controversial issues.
"Red, do you even remember why we went to war with Iraq in the first place?"
"Hells yup, ah 'member! Deys were blowin' 'r boys up t'ree a day wit' dem der roadside IUDs, an' Jerge Bush's dun whittled it down t' a cupla dozen a mont'. If'n dat ain't a vick-ry, ahs don' know what's be!"
"No, Red. I mean before that."
"Yews mean 'bout how we had t' stop dem Gee-had Muslino-Factist Al-Canadians from kickin' up a civic wahr?"
"Yews mean 'bout the freesdom an' such what we brung t' d' Eye-rackians, what wit' dem purple votin' fingers an' such?"
"No. Before that."
"Yews mean how we haz t' fight 'em der so's we ain't gotta fight 'em here?
"Yew's mean how we had t' stop ol' Sadman Huzzy-ane from invadiatin' d' U.S. wit' dat yeller cake uranuses what 'e had tucked away in dem mow-bile laberdories?"
"Even before that, Red."
"Yews mean ... wull ... er ... uh ... whatjew tryin' t' get me at, Cope? Ain't nuttin' come afore dat!"
"Nine-eleven came before that, Red. We went to war in Iraq because of what happened on 9-11. Even though we know now that Bush knew then that Iraq had jack-squat to do with 9-11 ... even though we know now that Bush knew then that Saddam was no threat to the U.S. ... even though we know now that Bush knew then there was absolutely no strategy for getting us out once we went in ... we went to war in Iraq for no other reason than Bush wanted to show everyone that nobody could stop him from going to war in Iraq, just because he wanted to. And now we know, Democrats and Republicans alike, what Bush probably knew then but was too stupid to grasp ... that there is no way out. That we are stuck like a spider in boiling honey. And as we sit there, pouring money in like there's no tomorrow ... as we farm out the booty to Haliburton looters and Blackwater pirates ... as the impotent saps we put in power twiddle their thumbs ... Iraq is sinking deeper and deeper into hard-core Islamic fundamentalism. Have you heard? ... now they're finding women's bodies, murdered just for violating religious codes, and dead barbers, murdered just for giving men a shave. The Shia militias are gearing up to take over the country and the al-Qaida goons have moved on to Pakistan. We haven't won anything, Red. All the surge did was slow down the carnage some. Glorious victory, my ass. I'll bet you a dollar to dog poop we end up installing ourselves another brutal thug who keeps Iraq in one piece by slaughtering anyone and everyone who questions his authority. Our military is ruined, our treasury is empty, our good name is in shambles, our civil liberties are crumbling ... and you expect us Democrats to forget all that and congratulate Bush for the success of his piddly surge?"
"Cope, yew have a ten'ecy t' spout d' same crap o'er an' o'er, yew know dat?"
"Yeah. I worry about that some. But I guess as long as there's idiots around who don't get it yet, somebody has to spout it over and over. Which reminds me of why I came over here, buddy. You need to have your brain checked out. I'm a little worried about you. Seriously, Red, you're sounding more and more like something that shuffled out of a swamp."
"T'anks f'r y'r concernation, Cope. But ah's do it on purpuzz, ya' sees? Ahs figgerd' if'n more folks tawks like dis, Jerge Bush wo'n't sound so ... er ... whad's dat word?"
"Yuh! Dat's it! 'Incarticulacing.'"