Cowboys And Aliens And Congress
I never envisioned myself spending the better part of a weekend monitoring the TV to await the fate of a U.S. government debt ceiling.
But hey, there I was this weekend, living on the edge!
From CNN on Saturday afternoon to the talking heads news shows yesterday morning, I was glued to my Sony Bravia, trying to figure out what madness had taken over our nation’s capitol.
Perhaps it was the other capital (my 401K, my investment portfolio, etc.) that compelled me to stay so closely tuned for a deal.
By Sunday afternoon, I’d had enough and was a nervous wreck.
So, like a few million other Americans, I headed out to the cinema to catch a showing of “Cowboys v. Aliens.”
If you’ve not heard much about the film or seen the previews, here’s the movie’s basic premise: A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting in the Wild, Wild West in a small town called “Absolution.”
Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and a slew of other cowboys (and cowgirls) are all that stand in their way.
Craig’s character, Jake Lonergan, appears in the town with a bit of amnesia and a glowing shackle on his wrist, which we later discover is really good for destroying the wily aliens, which like to zip down from out of the sky and grab the townsfolk with a long alien lasso.
In the Walter Mitty fantasy daydream I had in the middle of the film, I envisioned the aliens taking on Congress instead, swooping through the halls of the House and Senate and grabbing all the Congresspeople and flying them out into the Arizona desert – just like in the movie — where they’d be dropped into the middle of nowhere, given a single canteen of water, then ordered to come up with a solution to the debt crisis in an hour, or else.
Then, I woke from my daydream, and I realized that even in my fantasy, the aliens were probably no match for all those lobbyists (22 for everyone Congressperson in Washington) and earmarks, even with Lonergan’s fancy alien six shooter.
After returning home from the movie, I caught up on the evening news with Brian Williams, then watched the NBC hour-long special where Williams and 30 of his networks cameras prowled around Capitol Hill last Wednesday, in an attempt to see what it was like “behind the scenes” on Capitol Hill.
There was a whole bunch of running from one building to another, a whole bunch of meetings that didn’t seem to get much accomplished, and a whole bunch of coffee.
There was one star of Capitol Hill, however, that seemed to outshine all the politicos.
“Dakota,” Senator Kent Conrad’s pet bichon frise, nicknamed after the state where Conrad is from, was featured several times in the show, and seemed to me to be the only one with any sense. Dakota would sit quietly as people came into meetings, greeting and petting her as if she were the only dog on Capitol Hill.
Which she is.
Known informally as the “101st Senator,” Dakota seemed to me to be the ultimate insider’s insider, privy to some of the most confidential and private discussions on Capitol Hill.
If dogs could talk, these politicians might actually get a deal done. But let’s keep the Cowboys and Aliens on reserve, just in case.