Mr. Speaker, this is not a perfect bill. I never said it was. It is far from perfect. This bill has so many imperfections that the whole thing can appear to be a single unified miscalculation.
I have heard the whispers in the filthy corners of this building. My bill’s detractors regard it with disgust, even hatred. They say that despite all the lipstick I’ve put on it, the bill’s still essentially a pig. A turd that can’t be polished, and I’ve simply rolled it in glitter. Mr. Speaker, I’m acknowledging in advance that the bill has its problems — Jesus, does it ever — so we can get on with the discussion.
I stand in this chamber and say that my bill’s essential nature is unknowable. Its flaws are genuine and manifold, yet mysterious. For all we know, this bill has a rich and inspiring interior life buried somewhere within these eleven hundred imperfect pages. It may be burning with life and hope, or it may be smoldering with death and doom. We may never know. I mean, who among us can read this bill?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Mr. Speaker. I hate my bill. Not only is this bill imperfect, it has also ruined me. I gave some of the best months of my life for this bill. My wife grew jealous of all the attention I was giving the bill. Before this bill, things for yours truly were pretty sweet. I used to have time to read the paper, work out at the House gym, skip votes, and saunter into work whenever I felt like it. Care to meet up for lunchtime beers at the Dubliner? I’m there. Got time for a squash game at three? Let me grab my racquet.
Did I renew my SCUBA certification this year? Start helping out more with the Boy Scouts? Reconnect with the familie in Oslo? I did not. Instead, I made this bill with my own two hands, through concentration and effort, along with those of my legislative director Robert, in special coordination with JPW Group, the lobbying shop that actually strategized and prepared the impenetrable language, which I sure as hell can’t bring myself to read the entirety of, on behalf of various corporations, interests, and entities.
Do I want this bill to die? I have in fact tried to kill it on many separate occasions. But it’s too late for all that now. I can’t just put it in a burlap feed sack with some stones and toss it into the pond, mewling and scratching. We’ve come too far, this bill and I.
My bill was supposed to be robust. That was our word, we said it all the time, me and Robert and the guys. The JPW Group sent lots of memos with subject headings like, ABOUT THE ROBUST BILL and ROBUST! ROBUST! ROBUST! and ROBUST-A-MOVE!!!. You see, this thing was going to be robust as all hell. And over time the robustness got replaced with some of the derisions you may have heard from my bill’s detractors: “cynical,” “fundamentally flawed,” and “clusterfuck.” They say it’s a Trojan horse carrying disease and destruction in its belly. Because of its inventive yet admittedly tortuous pay-as-you-go structuring, created by those guys as JPW Group, some have nicknamed my bill “Madoff.”
Do you know how that makes me feel, hearing that talk?
In my dreams this bill speaks to me. “What in God’s name are you thinking, man?” it says. “This is your one shot at posterity and just look at what you’ve gone and done. I didn’t ask to be born. It was your chief of staff and your general consultant who said to create me or risk irrelevancy. Your constituents know about the Dubliner and the squash, and that mostly you read the newspaper — I’m here to save your ass.”
In the dream my bill says that it hates my guts. And I go, “Guess what? I hate your guts, too. That’s how imperfect I feel you are.” “Am I,” the bill goes, “as was said about another bill not too long ago, ‘A big fucking deal?’ I am not. I am no longer robust. I am weak. I wear no makeup. I’m deceitful and inarticulate. I’ve lost my figure. I’m bald. I’m un-muscular. I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m too short. I’m too long. I’m bloated. I’m all surface. And whose small-mindedness is responsible for my shortcomings?” “Whose?” I go, trembling, knowing the answer. My bill goes: “Yours, dipshit.”
In a different dream, my bill foretold: “Before the rooster crows three times, you will deny me three times.” “Wait!” I pleaded, or pled. Did the cock have to crow three times or was it just three denials?
And it’s true, I did forsake the bill for a time in mid October when I was dealing with my collaborative divorce, and that hideously public falling out with my son, all while not meeting my fundraising goals back when internal polling was ghastly. But that was only one time! Only once have I foresaked — forsooked? — my bill. And, Mr. Speaker, there will not be another forsakenment.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, what’s a legislator to do? Abandon it? Or work toward a solution through negotiation and compromise? God dammit, I suckled this thing. I stroked it and wrapped it in blankets, nestled it in the warmth of a heat bulb in the incubator that is our committee. And I ate a lot of splendid meals with the guys at JPW Group. Et voilà: a not-so-perfect bill. And when that cock crowed the third time, Mr. Speaker, I held my head high.
I’ve forgotten my own question, Mr. Speaker, but truth be told, I wish it ill. I’d take real pleasure in seeing this bill wiped from the face of the earth. Jesus, can you imagine the kind of hellish impact this bill will wreak on the population once it’s released into the wild? No? And so what? There’s nothing to be done about it now.
So here we are, Mr. Speaker. As its life-giver and chief sponsor, I more than anyone know this bill. Is this bill ill -conceived? Perhaps. A joke? Yes, partly.
Two roads diverged in a wood, Mr. Speaker. One path led to a pond, a burlap feed sack, and some rocks. The other path led to K Street, where JPW Group is headquartered. And I — along with Robert — took a taxi over to K Street, and that has made all the difference.
I will now yield.