To the citizens of Pompeii, please understand that I share your unease about the recent tremors. While some terrestrial rumbling is normal in this region, the increasing frequency and intensity of these events over the last several days cannot be ignored. Throughout my long career I’ve never hesitated to speak up when the moment demanded action, and this is no exception. Therefore, I am urging every Pompeiian to, uh, sit tight and see how this plays out. Could be nothing.
By now we have all heard the accounts of smoke billowing from newly formed cracks in the foothills of Mount Vesuvius. Across history, societies have neglected these early warning signs at their own peril, and to do so now would contradict everything I stand for as a sworn defender of Rome. I would sooner die than hold my tongue in the face of looming catastrophe. On the other hand, what appears to us as noxious fumes and burning rubble may just turn out to be a bunch of hot air. Volcanos can be like that. Take a chill pill, everyone.
The men, women, and children of Pompeii can rest assured that I have voiced my firm objection to the thousand-foot-high dark gray column of pulverized stone that just exploded into the sky. As always, I’m not afraid to call it like I see it. Thousand-foot-high columns of stone are how city-erasing tragedies get started. You’d have to be pretty foolish to look at that thing and act like nothing’s wrong. What? No, I am not calling for evacuation. See, I’m working some behind-the-scenes angles to deal with the giant doom spire. Wish me luck!
Let’s address the elephant in the room, that is, the overwhelming sulfurous odor and the pyroclastic avalanche cascading down the mountainside. Times like these call for the sort of Straight Talk that I’ve always said I’m known for. Make no mistake; at this rate, within a few hours Pompeii will burn to a crisp under a crushing molten blanket. And for me, that would cross a clear red line. This crisis has left me no choice but to unwind at home for a while and then check if maybe the searing death wave went back the other way. Don’t forget, by the way, Vesuvius isn’t the only mountain we live near. It’s surrounded by many other perfectly stable mountains. Why aren’t we focusing on them?
Sorry, but I have to push back on this notion that I’m not doing everything I can here. First of all, it’s tough to do much on account of my dust-coated lungs and the sun dimming to a faint orange behind the apocalyptic cloud. But even now, as the ash piles up around me, I have fiercely adopted the brave posture synonymous with my name. And seeing as I’m getting so tightly packed in that I can no longer budge, it’s a pose I’ll probably get to hold for eternity. And when they dig up old man McCain in a hundred or a thousand years, they’ll say, “What a maverick this guy was.”