Mephistopheles, Dan Rather, and Dr. Dean

It's late at night in the home of Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and recent presidential candidate, who announced earlier in the day that he is running for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. He answers a knock at the door and invites Mephistopheles and Dan Rather to come in (all known hereinafter as D, M, and R, respectively).

D: It's about time. I told you I'd meet you just after my bike ride around the path I hijacked from the Episcopalians. They thought I was bluffing but I showed them a thing or…

R: Sorry about the glitch there, Howard, but Mephie and I stopped off in Boston to see if John Kerry would like to start making arrangements for 2008…you know, get a little head start on Hillary. We figured, since he sold his soul to the Frenchies the last time around that…oh gee, sorry about that Mephie, I know you said you didn't want his soul…just wanted Teresa's bankroll…and to keep it quiet…wait, that doesn't have anything to do with…

M: You have heard of me, haven't you, governor? And, Rather, if you call me Mephie again, I'm going to give you a case of pre-incineration syndrome and decree no more mortgages on CBS souls.

D: Yeah, you're the guy or spirit or devil or whatever who bought Faust's soul in exchange for 24 years of goodies…but you're not buying my soul. I took it over to the Congregationalists when I stole…er…acquired that bike path and it's safe there…or here…or…

M: Times have changed. Instead of actually breaking my promises and sending all the Fausts of this world to hell after their 24 years, I now bargain…it's a matter of keeping myself in enough coal or oil to keep the fires going. With the great increases now in cars and homes and jets, it's hard to compete, especially on a hellishly limited budget.

R: He has proof, Howard. Remember Saddam and that coup of his in 1979. You don't think that thug actually became the top enchilada in Iraq by fighting for it with that ragtag bunch of goons of his, do you? He sold his soul to Mephi…er…strike that…Mephistopheles here, and what happened in 2003, exactly 24 years later? The monster's taking it easy, living high on the hog in that Iraqi jail, and Kofi Anan's all set to spring him as soon as the French say the word and Kofi's son passes the cash. So…y'see, Saddam's not in hell…he's in the Iraqi International Airport Hilton having french-fried figs whenever he wants them.

D: Oh…so you get my soul, Mr. Mephistopheles, and I get the DNC chairmanship. Then, 24 years later I'm as free as a bird…is that it? Hey, how ya gonna do that? Bill and Hill have picked out Ickes for that job. Besides, what do you get outta the deal in that 24 years while I'm chairman or maybe even president? If you don't get my soul, which I might add is far superior to anyone else's, what do you get?

M: Simple, governor. I get all the coal and gas my people have discovered in that mountain range that runs north-south right through the middle of your state, plus half of the trees thereon.

D: Are you kidding? There's no coal in those mountains, no gas, either. Do you know where you are? This isn't Kentucky, where they just saw off the top of any big hill and haul off the coal, or dig under it and bring the coal out on conveyor belts. Leaves the place looking like those pictures of the moon, and every once in a while an old mine collapses under the black lakes on top of it and the smarmy stuff flows all the way to the Ohio River. We use those mountains here for ski runs, and the people'd kill anybody who even stuck a shovel…

M: That's where Rather comes in. Tell him, Dan.

R: Yeah. It's like this Howard…and being a politician and all, you'll understand the process. I've dug up an old treaty from1767 wherein whatever government there was here then gives the mineral rights to any governor who is also a physician. Nobody's claimed the rights yet, and you fit the bill…so, all you have to do is present this treaty to the legislature and then just get out of the way. Mephistopheles will use whatever means are necessary to get you the DNC job, even if it means wasting a few folks…like Ickes, for instance. No matter what happens, you'll be the last biggie from 2004 still standing, and you'll get the job. How d'ya think I'm keeping on at CBS for another 24 years while the others are getting the axe?

D: A treaty from 1767? Vermont wasn't even a state until 1791. Anyway, how can you verify the treaty…they didn't use typewriters from Texas air bases back then. (laughter)

R: Not funny, Howard. Not funny at all. The treaty would be no good if it came after statehood, so I had one drawn up…never mind, strike that…I can prove the treaty is good. I've had the writing experts examine the…

D: The Indians didn't write. They just…

R: I've got that covered…all the pictures of animals…and all the pictures of Indians hauling coal and sniffing gas…and the signatures, written in blood…all that stuff.

M: He even researched the kind of quills used in writing that document, governor, and found that, sure enough, they made those funny marks about the apostrophes…right, Dan?

D: H-m-m. Where did this treaty come from?

R: That's the easy part. This guy in Texas had a friend who had an ancestor in Vermont who flew…strike that…who ran messages between tribes in 1767…something called the Land National Guard, and he had it in an old trunk with some M-16 bullets…strike that…with some old arrowheads. I'm a Texan and he said I could have the thing, especially if I would start moaning on the Evening News about illegals crossing the border from Mexico.

D: Yeah, I remember. You did start in on old Bush the bushwhacker over that not long ago. So that's the reason.

R: That's the reason. I don't give a damn about the illegals, but Mephie here and I've…okay, don't breathe that hot breath on me…Mephistopheles and I go back a long way and I knew about his problem, as well as your problem, including that ear-splitting scream, so the whole thing was a natural.

M: Well, what about it, governor?

D: I'm thinking about all those skiers…man, they'd kill me if the mountains turn black, or have their tops raked off…this is Vermont…pristine Vermont…only the most callous sorta guy would…

M: Okay, I'll get in touch with Ickes or maybe even Al Sharpton…

R: Just tell the folks the best exercise in the world is biking, Howard. You've already proved it by squirreling away that bike path for the Congregationalists. That's probably what most folks in Vermont are anyway.

D: Yeah, I could do that. YEAH, I COULD DO THAT!!!! YEAH, I COULD DO THAT!!!!

R: Don't scream, Howard, let's just shake.