Adventures of the Washington Rat

I was working in the lab late one night when an idea for a great experiment occurred to me.  You see, I’ve always wondered why it is that you can send a perfectly good elected official to Washington, and six months later, he comes back totally changed.  

So I selected a perfectly normal, seemingly healthy laboratory rat and inserted a chip into his brain to make him think he was a conservative member of Congress.  Then, I sent the Rat to Washington to breathe the air, drink the water, and attend as many committee meetings as he could.  Six months later, I picked him up at the airport.

So what did you learn?” I asked while driving him back to the lab.

“We need to end this war,” replied the Rat.  “There is no military solution…”

“Never mind that,” I said.   “I want to know what you think about spending taxpayer money.”

“Well,” said the Rat, “There are a lot of uninsured children out there.”

“So their parents should get them insurance?” I asked.

“That hardly seems fair,” the Rat shot back.  “People who earn up to 400 percent of the poverty level have enough trouble affording digital cable.”

As soon as we got back to the lab, I checked the Rat’s brain-chip.  Sure enough, I had programmed him as a Republican.  “All right,” I said, resuming the grilling, “You’re saying that all Americans have a basic right to health insurance provided by the government?”

“You’re not paying attention,” said the Rat.  “This is a program for CHILDREN.  The American people will always support a program that is for the children.   It’s very popular.”

The Rat got a bit tongue-tied when I asked him to define “children,” but essentially agreed that the term now refers to anyone not covered by Medicare.  Exasperated, I challenged the Rat to explain where an additional $60 billion dollars for the program will come from.

“Easy question,” said the Rat.  “In fact I’m glad you asked it.”  Almost as an afterthought, he added, “We’ll actually SAVE money because kids who aren’t sick can go to the doctor more.”

“But isn’t this the first step toward socialized healthcare?” I asked.   “You’re a REPUBLICAN Rat, not a Hillary Clinton liberal.”

“Oh, I’m VERY conservative,” said the Rat.  “I’m right in line with my party.  It’s just that we cannot let children go without healthcare.  And if we play our cards right we can get everyone insured through SCHIP and avoid a big government program.”

“You mean like we did with the new Pharmaceutical Benefit?”

“That’s right,” replied the Rat.  “It’s not Big Government if Republicans do it.”

“What about pork?” I asked.

“Great with Pinot Noir or a perfectly aged Zinfandel,” said the Rat avoiding the question.

“But are you wasting taxpayers’ money on a lot of silly earmarks?”

“Well, not in MY district, but there is some wasteful spending going on up north,” said the Rat.  “If you’ll look at my latest press release, you’ll see that I have just sponsored a bill to build a $500 million bridge from Smallburg to Nowhere Island.  This is needed by…”

“Yeah, I know,” I chimed in.  “By 34 nature lovers who have no patience with the ferry.”  

The Rat gave me a dirty look and I backed off.  But evidence was mounting that the Rat had been altered.  Before he went to Washington, he hadn’t even supported farm subsidies.  Now he was all in favor of expanding the Department of Education.

What could I do but suggest that I remove the chip from the Rat’s brain? — assuming I could still FIND his brain.

But the Rat protested, still believing that he was a member of Congress.  “There’s an election coming up,” he said.  “Could I interest you in a hike and bike trail?”