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by Allan Uthman

[Editor’s note: The BEAST is proud to present here an exclusive rush transcript from a recording of a White House ethics course conducted last Tuesday. Acquired from a high-level source in the presidential custodial department, the tape has been verified and the voices confirmed to be those of some of the president’s closest advisors. The class was one of several ethics seminars conducted at the president’s behest in response to recent polls indicating low public trust in the White House.]

Richard Painter: Okay, people, everybody settle so we can start. As most of you know by now, my name’s Richard Painter, and I’ve been the Chief Ethics Counsel for the White House since March. I know most of you don’t want to be here, but the president’s asked me to refresh your memories on the subject of ethics and ethical behavior.

Donald Rumsfeld: Hey, weren’t you the guy who “vetted” Bernie Kerik?

Painter: (quietly) Yes.

Rumsfeld: Well gee, that went well. We hired this guy?

Dick Cheney: He said it was okay that Scalia and I went duck hunting just before the big energy commission appeal. He’s cool with me.

Rumsfeld: Oh. But—well isn’t that unethical?

Cheney: Not to him. So we should be okay here.

Rumsfeld: Cool.

Painter: All right folks, let’s get started. I want to start small, and get a gauge on how far we need to travel here. So we’ll begin with a simple scenario that shouldn’t be hard for anybody. Let’s say you’re walking in the park and you see an unattended infant in an old-fashioned buggy—

Karl Rove: Steal the baby! Steal the baby!

Harriet Miers: Karl! That’s awful!

Rove: Do you know how much you can get for a healthy baby?

Condoleezza Rice: Oh, you just want to sell it. I was worried there for a minute.

Rove: Jeez, what kind of monster do you think I am?

Cheney: Is the baby white?

Painter: Whoa, whoa, slow down everybody! I haven’t even finished the scenario! And no, Karl, you do not steal the baby! That’s very, very unethical.

Cheney: See? I’m learning already!

Painter: So—you look in the baby’s buggy, and the baby has some candy.

Rove: Steal the candy!

Painter: Hold on, Karl.

Rice: What kind of candy? I’m allergic to chocolate.

Painter: Let’s say it’s whatever kind of candy you like.

Rumsfeld: I’m with Karl. Steal the candy.

Cheney: Definitely.

(sounds of agreement, long pause)

Painter: Are you guys putting me on? You really think that’s the right answer?

Alberto Gonzales: Well, what else? I mean you’re practically putting the candy in our hands here, man, and I love me some Twizzlers.

Rove: Yeah! Do you realize how easy it is to get candy from a baby? It’s a friggin’ cliché for easiness, for Christ’s sake! It’s got to be ethical, right?

Painter: Okay, no. Okay. No. (pause) Well, you’re wrong. It’s unethical to take the candy. It doesn’t matter how easy it is. There’s no correlation between ease and ethics. You can’t take the candy.

(puzzled murmurs)

Rumsfeld: Are you serious?

Painter: Yes, I am. Now. Why isn’t it ethical to take the candy?


Painter: Come on guys, somebody has to have a guess. Anybody?

Cheney: Ummm…Because your cholesterol is too high?

Painter: No. No. That’s not an ethical problem, that’s a personal health issue. Come on, guys.

Rove: Oh! Oh! Because the police are watching you! Right? Or a reporter! A reporter’s watching!

Painter: No, Karl. That’s not it. That wouldn’t be an ethical problem. That’s just self-preservation.

Rove: Really? Shit, this is hard!

Cheney: Yeah, this sucks. I wish Scooter was here. He’d know, I bet.

Rove: Oh here we go, Scooter, Scooter, Scooter. Dick misses his boyfriend.

Cheney: Shut up, Karl!

Rove: (falsetto) “Oh, Scooter, how will I ever go on without you?”


Cheney: I can have you killed, you fat hick.

Rumsfeld: Calm down, Dick.

Miers: Guys, please!

Rove: Oh, whatever. I could kill you with a fucking joy buzzer, big man.

Painter: That’s enough, both of you! Do you want to have to repeat this class? (pause) I didn’t think so! Okay, everybody settle down. How about you, Harriet? I bet you know the answer.

Miers: Well, I guess it would be wrong because—well, because it just is, you know? The lord says “Thou shalt not steal,” and that’s good enough for me. It’s just not right to take something that doesn’t belong to you.

Cheney: Oh, please!

Painter: That’s enough out of you, mister. That’s very good, Harriet. Did everybody hear Harriet? Stealing is ethically wrong.

Rumsfeld: Seriously?

Gonzales: (muttering) Brown nose.

Miers: Hey!

Painter: Alberto!

Gonzales: Well it’s true; she’s a total suck-up! That’s the only reason she ever got nominated in the first place!

Cheney: Fuck yeah!

Rove: Hey, you guys shut up! Leave her alone!

Gonzales: What’s your problem?

Cheney: Well, looks like somebody’s got a crush on Harriet.

Rove: Shut up, Cheney!

Gonzales: Oooooh…

Painter: People, please—

Cheney: You guys should get married.

Gonzales: Yeah, too bad there’s not a judge around!

Cheney: Oh! Burn! Good one, Al!

Rove: Well, at least she’s a girl!

Cheney: Could’ve fooled me.

Rumsfeld: Oh, man!

Painter: That’s it! You guys are incorrigible! This whole exercise is futile!

Rumsfeld: Who are you, Maureen Dowd?

Cheney: Ha!

Rice: Stop it guys, Harriet’s crying. I hope you jerks are satisfied.

Gonzales: Oh, come on…

Painter: Great, just great. Come on, Harriet. Are you all right? What’s the matter?

Miers: (sobbing) Everybody’s just so mean!

Rove: You guys are in for it now. You’ll see.

Cheney: Whatever. You’ll probably be in jail in a couple of weeks anyway. You think she could’ve made it through a Senate hearing being that soft?

Miers: Fuck you, Dick!

Gonzales: Wow, I’ve never heard her swear before.

Rice: Just leave her alone! She’s right; you are a bunch of meanies.

Cheney: Well…yeah! Isn’t that why we’re here in the first place?

Painter: Exactly! That’s why you’re here in this class. And that’s why you’re failing. Now, if you don’t—

Cheney: No, no—I mean, that’s why we’re here in the White House. Let’s face it—if any of us had really acted—what was it?—ethically, we never would have made it here in the first place, am I right?

Painter: Well…

Rove: He’s right, you know. George is mad and all, but he would never have enjoyed the privilege of tarnishing the executive office if we were nice guys. Hell, my whole career is predicated on my special talent for shameless, craven smear tactics. What the hell are we doing here, anyway?

Painter: Now wait just a minute.

Rice: I have to say, I think they have a point there.

Rumsfeld: I agree. You were right, Richard; this whole exercise is futile.

Painter: Look, it doesn’t matter. The president said—

Rove: Since when do any of us give a shit what he says? This is stupid. I understand you’re in a tough spot, Richard, but Dick’s right. Even if you were somehow capable of turning us all into decent human beings, don’t you see, you’d be crippling the entire administration! We’d all be paralyzed with remorse over all the bad shit we’ve already done, and incapable of undoing it anyhow. And who’d be left to run things? George?


Rice: Yeah, I’d be a total mess over that “mushroom cloud” comment. (more laughter) And Al, Al would be all racked with guilt about the torture…

Gonzales: Totally. Oh, and New Orleans, right? We’d all be screwed up over that. And the war, of course.

Rumsfeld: Exactly! I mean, two thousand dead soldiers, and a hundred thousand Iraqis—it’d all be way too much for ethical people. Plus, we’d probably have conceded the 2000 election.

Rove: We never would have even gotten that far. And the Swift Boat thing, I mean, that was totally unethical. It really goes on and on. And does anybody here really regret it?

Rumsfeld: Hell, no! I’d say we’re all a shitload richer than we were at the start of this thing, right? We got our war…

Cheney: My portfolio is doing pretty fucking great, I have to admit.

Rice: Isn’t everybody’s?

Rove: Right! So, again: what the hell are we doing here? Let’s just skip the whole deal and get back to work, shall we?

Cheney: Yeah, fuck it.

Painter: Hold on, people. I can’t just pretend you all passed.

Cheney: Yes you can, Richard. What, do you think George will figure it out? The guy wouldn’t know a—what’s the word again?

Gonzales: Ethics.

Cheney: Right. The guy wouldn’t know an ethic if it crawled up his ass and set up a lumber mill. He’s just wasting our time and yours, and jeopardizing the nation in the process. In fact, I’d say that if you just let us go and give us good grades, you wouldn’t only be helping your country, you’d probably even live through the next week.

Painter: Pardon?

Rumsfeld: That may not be ethical, Dick.


Painter: Wait—are you trying to intimidate me?

Cheney: Not exactly. Let me rephrase it: Let us go and give us perfect grades, or I’ll have you killed before you can say “I’m a piece of shit lawyer whose death won’t matter to anyone important.”

Painter: Are you kidding?

Rove: What do you think, Painter?

Miers: Please just do as he says, Richard.


Painter: Uh, okay! I think we’re done! Everybody did great. Have a nice day now!

Rove: Good move, buddy. Hey everybody, let’s go get some candy, what do you say?










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