Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Episode 2

Political Satire:  Having trouble surviving these times?  You’re not alone.  Join us in columnist John F. Di Leo’s exploration of an alternate universe, where we imagine the impossible:

An aging, corrupt old fool somehow becomes president in his basement, and every night, an aide has to bring him his soup and discuss the events of the day as he prepares to receive his nightly meds…

Dateline, January 23. Begin Transcript:

“Okay, sir, it’s time for your morning briefing.”

“Nope, I think I’m wearing boxers today. Or maybe not. I’ll check. Gimme a minute…”

“No, sir, please, there’s no need. It’s not that kind of brief.”

“Huh? Oh, okay then.”

“So, today we have to talk about energy, sir.”

“Oh, good, I’ve been feeling kinda tired. Do they have some more vitamins for me? I like vitamins.”

“Vitamins, sir?”

“Yup, all day long, they give me little pills and say ‘Time for your vitamin!’ When I was a boy, they had one big pill with all the vitamins in it, but not anymore. Now it’s just dozens of pills. A and C and E and B-6 and B-12 and B-52… they were a good band. I liked the Love Shack…”

“Uhh, yes, sir, well, those might not all be vitamins… anyway, about that energy briefing…”


“It’s not about your energy, sir, it’s about the country’s energy. Your EO on Keystone isn’t going over nearly as well as they expected it to.”

“I still think it would be better if they’d combine them all into one pill. Maybe the E and the O only work together in the context of a great big pill…”


“Come on, man!”

“I’m sorry sir, it’s just… this is about energy, sir. You signed an EO the other day that put tens of thousands of people out of jobs.”

“People? What people?”

“People who work on – or with – the Keystone Pipeline, sir.”

“Never heard of it.”

“That won’t fly, sir, you’ve talked about it too much, and you signed the EO yourself.”

“Must’ve slipped my mind. What is it again?”

“The Keystone Pipeline, sir. You banned it. You shut it down even though most of the work has already been done. Land acquired, pipe installed, more pipe ordered, employees hired to install it, tons of federal contracts in place. Work still ongoing at several points. And you shut it down with the stroke of a pen.”

“Hey, don’t say that!”

“What, sir?”

“Stroke! Don’t say ‘stroke’ to a 78 year old man! Are you trying to kill me?”

“It’s an idiom, sir.”

“Don’t you call ME an idiot, boy! I could have you hanged! …or, fired, or something…”

“No, sir, i didn’t say ‘idiot.’ I said ‘idiom,’ sir. I was referring to the stroke of a pen as an idiom. You know, sir, from high school English?

“Oh. Can I have my waffles now?”

“I’m sure they’re on their way, sir. Now, to get back to Keystone.”

“What’s that?”

“The Keystone Pipeline. That you closed down. With all the thousands of people who are now unemployed.”

“Did they vote for me?”

“Umm, well, I don’t know. Maybe some of them. Probably not most of them, sir.”

“Aha. And where is it again? If I’ve never heard of it, I’ll bet nobody’s ever heard of it.”

“It’s in the west, sir. The Keystone Pipeline goes from Alberta to Texas, traveling through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. The Keystone Pipeline, sir.”

“Don’t be silly. Pennsylvania is the Keystone State. I’m from Pennsylvania! I should know who the Keystone state is! Did you know I grew up in Scranton? Boy, I loved growing up in Scranton. Having waffles for breakfast. All the time. Waffles with butter and syrup. Those were the days. Before the Doctor started taking away my butter…”

“This is about a pipeline, not about the state, sir. We’re concerned, sir, that this Keystone EO might reflect badly on you, sir. It’s already causing fuel prices to go up. The price of gas at the pump has gone up over twenty cents, since the election, in some areas, more than forty cents.”

“Hmm…. Do I drive a car? I don’t remember, Do I drive a car?”

“No sir, you don’t.”

“Okay then, if I don’t drive a car, what do I care about gas prices? Let ’em go up, what’s the difference?”

“Well, sir, I drive a car, and most of your constituents drive a car. Practically all 80 million of your voters drive a car, remember?”

“80 million? Don’t be silly. 80 million people didn’t vote for me. Where are my waffles?”

“I don’t know, sir. Look, you’ll have some campaign aides come in soon to talk about what to do about the Keystone Pipeline. Hmmm… maybe we could show that you care about regular folks by taking a picture of you at home, eating waffles, with a jug of some local maple syrup… I wonder…”

“The best maple syrup is from Canada. Can we get some of that?”

“Well, it would eliminate the whole point of trying to reach out to regular American voters by having an American breakfast with American butter and American maple syrup…”

“I don’t care if you take pictures of it, I just want to eat! Gimme something to eat. I’m so bored all the time, and I can’t get any sleep. People are always sitting around me, talking and talking around a table when it’s nap time…”

“That’s not nap time, sir, those are meetings. You’re supposed to stay awake for them. You’re supposed to participate.”

“Oh. Why didn’t someone tell me?”

“Well, sir, we don’t actually tell you every, single… umm… never mind. Look, sir, we have to find a way to show that we care about all the people you put out of work by shutting down that pipeline.”

“Cake? We could give them cake. Or bread? Maybe we could give them bread. Oh, and circuses. Maybe they’d like some tickets to the circus? People like bread, and circuses, and cake…””

“The circuses have shut down, sir.”

“Oh. So what do you recommend?”

“Well, sir, I was thinking you could propose a job retraining program, that might take some of the edge off it…”

“No, no, no. Not about that boring stuff. What do you recommend about breakfast! Should I have waffles or cake?”

“Excuse me, sir, I have to go.”

“Go? Why?”

” Well, sir… I just don’t have the energy for this.”

copyright 2021 John F Di Leo


Excerpted with permission from “Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volume One,” from Free State West Publishing, available in paperback or eBook exclusively on Amazon.

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based international transportation and trade compliance professional and consultant.  A onetime Milwaukee County Republican Party chairman, he has been writing a regular column for Illinois Review since 2009.  His book on vote fraud (The Tales of Little Pavel) and his political satires on the current administration (Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes I and II) are available only on Amazon

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