| The girl whispered
to her dog.
"Pardon?" the Scarecrow
"Oh, I was just saying
that I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore."
"How can you tell?"
"Oh, Scarecrow… so many
questions. I overheard a dwarf telling someone about the beginning
of the world millions of years ago."
"You brainless twit! Everyone
knows the world was created 6,000 years ago! It’s in the Bible."
"Let’s not talk, ‘kay
The two continued along their
shiny path of golden bricks. The girl’s sparkling ruby slippers
clacked as she walked, reminding her of the dress she wore
to the inauguration; the one that appeared in all the papers
and on TV. Meanwhile the scarecrow ruminated on his closest
brush with fire. It had been many years ago, but the thought
still made him tremble. He had to run all the way to Alabama
to escape. That had been smart, he thought, for not having
"What… was… that,"
the girl said suddenly.
They both strained at a faint
sounding coming from an undisclosed location. "Oil… can."
"Oh my God," Scarecrow
said. "It’s fire!"
"Damnit, scarecrow! Get
back here. Fire can’t talk."
They approached slowly and
there near a stand of trees stood a Tin Man. He didn’t look
good. He had a grayish complexion and seemed stiff, hardly
"I need my medicine,"
the Tin Man said through a clenched jaw. "Over there…
The girl handed it to him.
"Thank you," he said. "I have a bad heart."
"I thought you said something
about an oil can."
"Heh! I must have been
talking to myself."
"We’re on our way to the
Emerald City," the girl said. "Would you like to
"What’s that, some kind
of night club?"
"I don’t think so. The
Great and Powerful Oz lives there. You know, the man at the
controls behind the curtain. He’s going to give the scarecrow
a brain, and he’s going to get me back to Kansas. I cannot
stand another minute in this place. All this business about
people coming from apes and whatnot. Hmph! Next thing you
know they’ll be warning us about the danger from flying monkeys
screaming down from the heavens and snatching us up."
The Tin Man was deep in thought.
"Curtain… controls… Oz," he asked finally. "You
mean Rove? I wonder if he can help with my heart."
The pair became a trio and
they continued along the golden bricks. The Scarecrow skipped
along. The Tin Man copped a peek down the girl’s shirt, but
the dog growled at him. Soon a shadowy figure approached from
the other direction. "It looks like a lion," the
girl said. The Tin Man readied his axe.
the Lion said as it jogged toward them. Gasping for air, the
Lion said: "Mis…ter… Pres… i… dent… Please… a question
for the Wall Street Journal."
"Sure," said the
"Heh!" The Tin Man
leaned close to the girl. "Don’t worry; they’re all cowards."
The Lion adopted a sort of
official sounding voice and asked, "So am I reading correctly
that the energy bill would not have had an effect on today's
"Repeat after me,"
the Tin Man said, putting his mouth to the Scarecrow’s ear
Scarecrow: "Well, it
would have 10 years ago. That's exactly what I've been saying
to the American people — 10 years ago if we'd had an energy
strategy, we would be able to diversify away from foreign
dependence. And — but we haven't done that. And now we find
ourselves in the fix we're in. It's taken us a while to get
there, and it's going to take us a while to get out. Hopefully,
additional crude oil on the market from countries with some
spare capacity will help relieve the price for the American
The Scarecrow smiled. "How
"Great," said the
Lion. "I just needed something. My editors… you know."
"Hey," said the girl.
"Maybe you’d like to join us. We’re going to the Emerald
City. I’m going to ask the Great and Powerful Oz to send me
home to Kansas. The Scarecrow’s gonna get a brain, and the
Tin Man a new heart. You could get, uh…"
"I don’t know. Wouldn’t
you like to do a good story…"
"Yeah, sure. These yellow
bricks, for instance. Looks like misappropriation of federal
transportation funds to me. I’ll follow them to the end –
see where they lead."
The four continued along the
yellow brick road together. The Scarecrow borrowed the Lion’s
newspaper, unfolded it and began to read aloud: During
the first three months of 2005, Exxon Mobil Corp., ChevronTexaco
Corp., Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and BP Group have together
earned $23.8 billion.
A thin smile spread across
the Tin Man’s gray lips.
"It says here," began
the Scarecrow, "that Ahmad Chalabi, convicted embezzler
in Jordan, and once and future favorite son of the Pentagon…"
"Says?" asked the
girl. "Says… a newspaper doesn’t ‘Say’ anything. It can’t
speak, can it? Well, can it, Scarecrow?"
"Reads," the Lion
"Oh…" Scarecrow continued.
"It says here, ‘The Iraqi dissident in exile cooked the
WMD intelligence, then fell out of favor temporarily when
he was accused of the same things as Saddam Hussein, namely
seizing Iraqi national assets, and presiding over thugs who
kidnapped, tortured and robbed. He was also accused of counterfeiting
and providing classified intelligence to the Iranians. Now
he’s back in American good graces, and was recently named
interim oil minister over the second largest reserves in the
world, after Saudi Arabia.’"
The girl sighed and shook her
head. The Tin Man seethed silently.
"Don’t be so hard on him,"
said the Lion. "It’s okay," he continued, patting
the Scarecrow on the back. "You’re doing great!"
"Where’s that other story…"
the Tin Man said, looking over the Scarecrow’s shoulder. "Aha!"
He began reading: "‘We understand consumers are concerned
about gasoline prices,’ David Fogarty, spokesman for the Western
States Petroleum Association told the AP for a story on April
30, ‘but those are largely a function of the marketplace.’"
Then the Tin Man added: "The
Chinese are sick of riding bicycles, and the Indians aren’t
content to walk half-naked along the Ganges anymore."
"Yeah," said the
Scarecrow, "and it says here: ‘Rising energy prices
are beginning to cut into consumer and business confidence,
not to mention spending power,’ said David Huether, chief
economist at the National Association of Manufacturers, whose
members are big energy users."
the Tin Man said, whipping out a Zippo lighter and setting
the newspaper aflame. "Don’t ever say anything like that
out loud again. My heart can’t take that kind of abuse."
He looked nervously at the Lion, who had been taking notes
perfunctorily while the tape rolled on his recorder.
Scarecrow shrieked and tossed
the burning paper in the air. "Help," he yelled
as he stumbled and fell.
The Tin Man held the burning
lighter over his prone body. "See this? This is what
you get when you mess up. Got it, Bubba?!"
wailed. "Please! Please!"
the girl said, trying to insert herself as the voice of reason.
"Everyone has a part to play: know your part."
"OK… OK…" he said
sobbing, but not really comprehending. "Please… No fire!"
The Lion finally looked up
from his notes. "I can’t deal with this," he said.
"These antics are crude and barbaric, and I’m not going
to get anywhere with you people. I’m going on ahead. There’s
something fishy about this road. I mean, yellow bricks? C’mon!
I smell a transportation finance scheme. Somebody got paid
The other three waved as the
Lion rounded a bend out of sight. "Good luck," someone