Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Episode 3

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 25. Begin Transcript:

“Hey! Staff! Get Down Here Now!”

“Right here, boss. What can I do for you, sir?”

“There’s no remote!”

“I’m sorry, sir… pardon?”

“There’s no remote for this TV!”

“Ah. Yes. Well…. That’s not actually a TV, sir. It’s a monitor.”

“Monitor, TV, what’s the difference? I wanna watch my cartoons. I want the remote.”

“Well sir, the thing is, a TV can be controlled by a remote, but that monitor is controlled by the computer. If you just fire up this laptop here, sir, it will activate the monitor. And then you can pull up your browser and go to youtube and watch your cartoons, sir.

Oh, but first, there are a few things we need to rehearse.”

“Rehearse? What’s that?”

“Rehearse. It’s when you say something again and again until you’re really comfortable saying it. But that’s not important right now…”

“Oh, all right. What is it this time?”

“Well, someone asked you a question today…”

“Take it up with my lawyer.”

“I beg your pardon, sir?”

“Oh, isn’t that what I’m supposed to say?”

“Certainly not, sir. Now, someone approached you today and asked you a question.”

“Wait, wait, I know this one… ‘It wasn’t me!’ That’s it, right? It wasn’t me!”

“No sir. Maybe you should wait for the question, sir. You were asked how you felt about the thousands of people who lost their jobs in the Keystone Pipeline, sir.”

“Oh, who cares about that… it’s closed.”

“Well, sir, that’s the point. You’re the one who closed it, sir.”

“Oh. Why the hell would I do a thing like that?”

“Climate change, I think, sir… or maybe pollution… or was it big business? I must confess, I don’t remember why you wanted to close it.”

“Well, if I don’t remember, and you don’t remember, why the hell are we talking about it? I’d rather talk about sports. Who’s in the Super Bowl, anyway? Heck, when IS the Super Bowl?

“We really need to talk about the Keystone employees, sir.”

“There aren’t any. Heh heh heh.”

“Uhhh, that’s not funny, sir.”

“Sure it is.”

“Well, it won’t seem funny to them, sir.”

“What do they care?”

“Well, sir, the people who worked there, until you fired them all, DO care about it, sir. It’s an issue for them. WE’RE supposed to be the party of compassion, sir… of empathy. It didn’t help when you said today that, and I quote, ‘they could just go get another job,’ sir.”

“Well, they can, can’t they? McDonald’s is always hiring. And Amazon. And uh, who’s that big electric car maker… Tesla. Why don’t they work there?”

“Every job pays differently, sir. Every job requires different talents, sir. Every job is located in different places, sir. You can’t just tell a pipeline installer or a truck driver to get a job flipping burgers or running logistics or manufacturing cars, sir. It looks like you don’t care, sir. Or, it looks like you’re… forgive the term, sir… out of touch.”

“Oh, I’ve touched plenty.”

“Clueless, sir. I meant it seems clueless for someone to propose that a pipeline engineer in Montana can just just snap up a job making cars in Nevada. Every job is different, sir. It’s the diversity of the economy.”

“I never whined about it. When I needed a job I ran for senator and stayed put for 35 years. I didn’t give up a perfectly good job.”

“Neither did they, sir. They didn’t give up their jobs. They expected to keep their jobs. YOU fired them, remember? You closed down their employers. You cancelled their contracts and permits.”

“Oh. Say, did I get any soup tonight?”

“Yes sir, you did…. Now, we have a PR problem. We need to get you a better response when people ask about this, than just saying, ‘they can get another job.'”

“But they can. And they should. Damn freeloaders. Lazybones. They should be working. They should get a job.”

“They HAD a job, sir. You’re the one who took it away. You have GOT to remember this. Your whole presidency could rest on how you handle this PR disaster.”

“Oh, it’s not that big a deal. Nobody remembers these things. Couple of people lose their jobs. So what. In the grand scheme of things…”

“We’re talking about tens of thousands of jobs wiped out at once, sir. TEXAS is suing you. CANADA is suing you. Do you realize how long we’ve been trying to flip Texas? We thought we might have it with that Beto guy.”

“Interesting fact. Did you know he was born the year I was elected to the US Senate?”

“Umm… yes, I suppose so. Anyway, Canada is suing us for this.

And Texas is suing the Biden administration. Can you imagine what that can do to our chances in the midterms down there? We need to save what seats we have. They’ll flip ’em all back if we can’t come up with something on this.”

“Oh. Okay, how about barbecue?”

“What about barbecue, sir?”

“Those southerners love their barbecue. Let’s just throw ’em a barbecue and I’m sure they’ll all calm down just fine.”

“You think you can make up for tens of thousands of people losing their jobs from Canada to Texas by throwing a party, sir?”

“Not just any party, son… a barbecue! They LIVE for that down there. we’ll just take a couple a steers… One of our boys can just shoot one from the window of the limo on the way down, and we’ll cook it up. Everything’ll be just fine.”

“Excuse me, sir… I must’ve heard wrong. One of our boys will ‘just shoot one?’ What do you mean?”

“On the way down. Whenever you drive around Texas, there are thousands of cattle all over the place. Hundreds right by the fences. Both sides of the highway. You don’t even have to be a good shot. There are so many in those herds, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”

“But… sir… umm… sir… you just CAN’T shoot cattle on the side of the road, sir. Those are ranchers’ cattle. They’re not wild animals, they’re other people’s property, sir!”

“Oh, property, schmoperty. Old fashioned ideas…”

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation…. Look, sir, I’m sorry, but I’ve got to put my foot down. I was sent down here to try out some new answers with you, and we have GOT to do it, sir. PLEASE.”

“Oh, all right. Can I have some soup first?”

“You’ve had your soup, sir.”

“Oh, well then, do I get fruit cup?”

“I suppose so sir. I’ll go ask upstairs for fruit cup for you when we’re done, sir.”

“Oh, goody!”

“Okay. Now, if someone asks you, What do you have to say about the thousands who lost their jobs when you shut down Keystone…”

“Tens of thousands.”


“Tens of thousands. You said so yourself, it was tens of thousands. And they claim I don’t pay attention…”

“Uh, yes sir, um, right… but that’s not the point right now. Let’s focus on the answer. When they say, what do you have to say about the tens of thousands who were thrown out of work when you closed Keystone,…”

“They should learn to code.”


“They should learn to code. That’s what you do nowadays. You learn to code. So we don’t have to hire all those Gunga Dins from India. THEY know how to code. If they can do it, so can American boys.”

“You Can’t Say That, Sir!!!”

“… so can American boys and girls, then. Is that better?”

“No, sir, it’s not! You Can’t Say That!”

“Oh? Why not?”

“It’s just… you can’t… you can’t say ANY of that!”

“You’re not helping.”

“Look, sir, try saying, ‘It is regretful that the Trump administration filled their heads with these false hopes, and we wish them success in the future, outside the failed technology of carbon fuels. Our hearts are with them, and we wish them the very best.”

“I can’t remember all that.”

“Well, sir, maybe if we take it in pieces, and practice.”

“I can’t insult crude oil. I’m from Pennsylvania. Gotta be pro oil, you know.”

“Um. I think that ship has sailed, sir.”


“You support the green new deal, sir. You’ve committed to terminating all oil related jobs, all coal related jobs, all natural gas related jobs. You’ve committed to destroying the entire energy industry, sir. You just CAN’T keep keep doing flip flops, sir. Eventually, the voters are bound to notice a thing like that. A 78 year old man doing somersaults is something you can’t exactly put out of your head.”

“Well, I’m ready for my soup now.”

“Fruit cup, sir.”

“Oh, goody!”

“But first, you’ve got to have a compassionate answer for the press. When they ask “What do you have to say about the people you threw out of work when you closed the Keystone Pipeline, you’ll say…”

“‘Come on, Man! I don’t work for you!’ … that’ll show ’em, huh?”

“No sir, that won’t help.”


“Try this, sir… ‘My administration is doing everything in its power to create green jobs that will be more lucrative and plentiful than anything the oil industry could ever have produced.'”

“Don’t be silly. Nobody’s stupid enough to believe that.”

“I guess so, sir. Never mind, then. I’ll go get you your fruit cup.”

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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