Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Broken News: Stray mule befuddles Senate Democrats, blocks passage of bill

The mule in question, hours after being returned to his farm.

WASHINGTON—Government ground to a halt today as the passage of the 2009 Care For Cute Orphans Bill was stalled and the Capitol thrown into gridlock when a stray mule wandered onto the Senate floor and proceeded to outduel the Senate Democratic Leadership with parliamentary procedures for over 12 hours. The scene finally ended when an exasperated Majority Leader Harry Reid gaveled the session into recess while the mule left the floor to eat a fern in the hallway.

“I have no idea what the hell just happened,” observed Democratic spokesman Chip Hires, who witnessed today’s events. “They were about to vote on a fairly uncontroversial bill, when suddenly a mule barged open the doors to the chamber, walked down the middle of the aisle, and brayed loudly into the lectern microphone. No one had any idea what was going on, but the majority leader for some unknown reason, decided to let him…her…it…speak and grant the beast the open floor. THIS MULE WASN’T EVEN ELECTED!”

It was at this point that the mule was able, through a number of hoof stomps, braying, and kicking motions, to open the motion back up for debate and for any amendments. Senate Republicans, wary of doing any real work for the day, tacked an amendment onto the bill that no vote would be taken until the mule relinquished the microphone. The measure inexplicably passed, 71-26, with three Senators abstaining.

Seeing this turn of events, the Senate Democratic leadership, eschewing the advice of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “Make a loud noise, wave fire in its face, just scare it, shoot it, or drag it the fuck out of the chamber and stop holding up the business of this country with your incompetent bullshit!”, decided to negotiate with the mule.

“They got taken to the cleaners. They kept trying to offer fruits and vegetables in an attempt to get the mule to agree to give the necessary long bray and two foot stomps that Robert’s Rules of Order says necessitates the official end-of-debate. But the mule just kept shaking his head and demanding a higher and higher food pile.” remarked Pablo Cezare, head of the kitchen staff at the Senate Building, who was tasked with bringing and endless supply of carrots and apples to the stubborn animal.

Using the system of "one stomp for agree, two stomps for disagree," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell began introducing bill riders in the mule’s name. The bill soon included such provisions as a 40% cut in rations for orphans, abolishing child labor regulations "as soon as the little gold brickin' bastards can walk," and a complete de-funding of all singing, dancing, and Cockney accent lessons. This procedure only stopped when Senate Republicans ran out of ways to make the bill worse.

After five more hours of the mule refusing to cede the floor and a particularly vicious kick to the solar plexus of Chris Dodd, the animal, either frightened by a marble statue, or having grown disillusioned by the ease with which federal government can be derailed by a single source, wandered out of the chamber to eat plants in the hallway.

Later inquiries revealed the mule, a mottled grey and white half Abyssinian donkey/half Mustang named Festus, had wandered into town from a farm twenty miles outside the city limits. The mule’s owner, farmer David Painter of Lake Ridge, Virginia had reported the animal missing the day before. When told what the beast had done Mr. Painter was said to have remarked to the authorities that it might have had something to do with the fact that they provided a C-SPAN feed on a TV in the barn for Festus, but that it was “…only to lull him to sleep and cut down on the incontinence. We never expected him to learn the intricacies of parliamentary procedure nor take up an interest in governance.”

Historically this marked the fifth time government had been distracted or otherwise sidetracked by a nearby animal, the most recent being when Strom Thurmond brought in a litter of adorable puppies to successfully divert the Senate from passing the Civil Rights Act, but this was the first time an animal had ever commandeered the floor. Observers note that the sheer surprise of the mule’s appearance combined with the litany of mental, ethical, political, instinctual, procedural, and spine-related deficiencies of the Democratic leadership provided the necessary vacuum in leadership for a particularly crafty beast of burden or great ape to exploit.

Spokesmen for the White House were unavailable for comment but according to insiders are positively irate over banking their electoral prospects and the fate of the nation on the possibility of two to four more years of this type of Senatorial performance.

As a result of the day’s activities the bill will most likely be scrapped and re-written. Additionally, Capitol security was given strict instructions to never again allow untended beasts to roam the halls of Congress unchecked, a task made simpler now that Ted Stevens is no longer around.

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