Thank you all for agreeing to attend this clandestine meeting. I realize that these are hectic times for some of us—especially you, Mitt—so it means a lot that we can convene in this top-secret chamber located three stories beneath the floor of the Republican National Convention. Unfortunately, we’ve got a crisis on our hands. After conducting a number of polls and cross-demographic surveys, it appears that most liberal voters are completely unaware that the Republican Party’s obsession with restricting the civil rights of gay Americans is—and always has been—an elaborate practical joke.

Calm down, everyone—I know this is a huge surprise, but let me explain.

Back in the early 70s, when some of us in the GOP cooked up the idea of playing a hilarious prank on the Democrats by ironically opposing the nascent Gay Rights movement, we never imagined things would go this far. Honestly, we just thought we would have a few laughs at the Democrats’ expense, eventually tell everyone it was all a complicated hoax, and then get on with responsibly governing the country.

But when we saw how sore liberal types were getting, well, we just couldn’t stop ourselves. We never actually had anything against the gay community—heck, literally every single conservative politician understands that sexual preference isn’t a conscious choice, and secretly finds the idea of discriminating on the basis of such preferences to be morally and intellectually abhorrent.

But watching the Democrats throw a hissy fit every time we blocked legislation that would have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples or allowed gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly in the armed forces—

Excuse me, guys—I can’t help cracking up when I talk about this stuff.

Anyway, we used to think that the liberals would catch on after a while. We even tried some truly insane stuff—like fighting court battles to uphold various states’ anti-sodomy laws. In retrospect, the fact that the Supreme Court didn’t get around to ruling such laws facially unconstitutional until 2003 should have been a red flag.

It may be hard to believe, but our research indicates that there are actually people out there who refuse to vote for conservative candidates specifically because they think we’re a bunch of backward homophobes or something. You might be asking yourself: If our own constituency has enough intelligence and wit to figure out that all of our virulently anti-gay rhetoric and legislation over the years was done 100 percent in jest, why can’t the liberals? I wish I could tell you. All I know is that it’s going to cost us some votes this November if someone doesn’t explain sarcasm to them soon.

Also troubling: we’ve been systematically repressing the hopes and dreams of an entire class of loyal American citizens solely because of their sexual orientation. That’s probably something we should… not do anymore.

Back in the day, Richard Nixon and I promised each other that we would do our best to never let this hysterical charade get out of hand. After all, the Republican Party is supposed to represent the social backbone of America—meaning that we, more than any other political group, have an obligation to uphold the Founders’ ideals of secular self-government, equality before the law, and, above all else, tolerance.

Well, except tolerance of the Democratic Party—that’s just not going to happen.

So what do you say that we all cool it with the whole fake bigotry thing for a while? Mitt—we realize that antagonizing Obama over the same-sex marriage issue has been a real blast, but maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if you spent the next couple months in Massachusetts-mode. And if anyone else in this secret chamber still finds himself fighting back the urge to lend public support to outmoded, completely untenable political positions simply to rile up the liberals, just start talking about how upper-class tax cuts are going to save the economy.