We've all got our coffee and cigars and are sitting down except for President Clinton who's looking around the Oval Office.
"Where's the green leather recliner?"
"Laura moved it to the attic; said it looked un-dignified."
"That was my favorite chair. I had some good naps in that chair."
"Well to be honest widjeu, Willie, I liked at chair too, butchee know women. They get a hankerin' to rearrange furniture; ye gotta hep em er jes git outta the way."
"My wife don't move furniture, George. I can't even get her to bake cookies."
"Not eme the Nestle Toll House kine thatche just gotta cut in little pieces and slap in the oven?"
"You ever take two of 'em and make a marshmallow cream sandwich?" Mr. Gore wants to know. "You don't even have to bake 'em. Just get you some cookie dough and slap some marshmallow cream in it. Now what's really good is when you deep fry that in some peanut oil. That's a world-class culinary experience."
We're all commiserating with the former president when the door opens and President Carter walks in. We all get up and shake hands.
"Well, Mr. Goody-goody Gore, ye worried 'bout thangs bein' fair now? Lookie who I gotcheer. I got the wurl famous e-lecshun refree and do-gooder, Pres-i-dent James...," the president pauses for a brief whispered exchange with President Carter, "Earl Carter, and he's here to cer-ti-fy that thangs are on the up-and-up wid my puzzle contest, aintchee Jimmy."
"Those smell like some mighty fine stogies you boys are havin' heah, and ah'd love to stay an watch the contest but theahs some children stahvin in Africa ah promised to save, and ah see Vice-President Gowah is heah as an observah anyway.
"President Bush asked me to look at the contest puzzle to make shouh it's fayuh. Ah have it heah in this bubble-wrap envelope - well, it was bubble-wrap befouh President Bush popped all the bubbles - but it was prepayuhed by Mr. Will Shortz of the New Yawk Times based on a theme suggested by President Bush.
"Ah've cayahfully reviewed it and it seems fayah. Both the contestants ah about the same age and from similah backgrounds..."
"Ye mean white trash, Jimmy?" The president wants to know.
"They ah both children of wukin class Suthun families who got scholahships to prestigious univuhsities and theyah both lawyahs. The knowledge requiahed to wuk the puzzle seems equally accessable to both."
When President Carter insists he has to leave for Somalia, President Bush stops him.
"Here, I wonche ta take the resta these cookies to yer kids," he says , indicating the Oreos on the silver tray. "Tell 'em Amurica aint fergot 'em."
While we're distracted by the President looking for something to put the cookies in, Gore grabs a handful and puts them in his pocket.
With that done, the president hands President Clinton and me each a puzzle and tells us to, "turn 'em upside down on yer desk 'til we ready to start," even though neither of us has a desk, just the copies of Money magazine he's given us to support our puzzles.
"Now we gotta git the timekeeper. C'mon in here Miss Yokum."
Whereupon a young woman enters who's a dead ringer for Jessica Simpson -- she could be Jessica Simpson for all I know - wearing the "Li'l Abner" Daisy Mae costume. You know, the one that just covers her bottom before it turns to raggedy threads.
"Wait a munute," Gore says through a mouthful of Oreo. "We don't need a timekeeper. Whoever finishes first wins."
"Shut up, Al," Clinton says, adjusting his britches. "I'd be happy to have Ms. Yokum here be our, uh, timekeeper."
"We need us a timekeeper, smarty pants, cause we caint be here all day. I got im-portant matters a state to tend to. You got the planet to save. Willie's got expensive O-rations to make. Millweed here's probly got some ambulances to chase.
"Naw, at the end a twenty minutes, game over. We take up the papers an I git Laura to grade em. Everbody awright widdat?"
He brings out from behind his desk a notebook-paper-sized tablet and places it on an easel, a really small easel, maybe fifteen inches tall, and sets it on the floor in front of us. It has "20" written on the first page.
"Gentlemen, starchur engines," the President shouts and adds, winking at Ms. Yokum, "I always wanted to git to say that."
I flip my puzzle over and see that the theme is "Yippie ki-yay" and locate the first long answer. The clue is, "Wild as a wind in Oregon...['Maverick']," and I fill in, "Blowing up a canyon."
Same with "A _________ is the man called Paladin. "Soldier of fortune," I write. "He packed no star as...['The Rebel']." I answer "he wandered far," and then "Lonely man, Cheyenne, where will you..." produces a quick "be sleeping tonight," and all my theme answers are finished.
I look over at President Clinton and see that he's pretty much finished the top left corner when Ms. Yokum bends over at the waist to flip page 20 and I stop working my puzzle because her attire, as they say, leaves little to the imagination. Then I'm further distracted by a primal groaning to my right.
I look at President Clinton, who looks like my dog Ginsberg watching me eat a pork chop.
I get back to my puzzle, but it's a good twenty seconds before my opponent looks at his, a process we'd repeat every time another minute rolled over.
President Clinton and I were both about two-thirds through when President Bush called time. He took my puzzle.
"Looks like ye done purty good here Millpond." Then he took Clinton's.
"Good Lord, Willie! Ye done drooled all over the page. Ye caint read any a this. It's e-legable. Millstrap wins!" he shouts, holding up my arm like a boxing champ.
"You done stole another one, you...you...troglodyte!" Gore yells, which starts Bush to singing "Wild Thing" again. "We'll file a protest with the Supreme Court, won't we Bill...Bill?"
But President Clinton was nowhere to be seen, and neither, curiously, was Ms. Yokum.
Ellis Millsaps is a local criminal defense attorney, writer and humorist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.