"Into each life ..."

"I have a couple of devious plans if this thing passes." — Jeb Bush, on the class-size amendment.

"On Friday, Gov. Jeb Bush visited three schools in the hurricane zone, issuing an executive order suspending certain state requirements limiting class size ... " — The New York Times, Aug. 21, 2004

Aug. 6, 2004

Governor Jeb Bush
Tallahassee, FL

TO: Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings


Where does the time go? It's been almost two years since I told those lawmakers I had "devious plans" to get around the class-size amendment. I still can't believe one of them caught me on tape. You weren't around then, so you don't know what a panic it threw all of us into. For weeks, nobody could get into the governor's mansion without submitting to a strip search, a retinal scan and a loyalty oath. And every night, I'd come upstairs and find Columba checking the seams of all her illegally imported cocktail dresses for lavalier mics. What a hassle.

But you know what the worst part was? Knowing I'd have to wait so much longer than I had wanted to sink that damn amendment. I mean, I couldn't just come out in early December and say, "Oops! The item y'all voted for was actually to put Carrot Top on the 25-cent piece. Balloting typo. Sorry for any inconvenience." People would start to get suspicious – even Florida people.

But now, I think enough time has passed. And I can finally fill you in on the "devious plan" I've concocted as the surest way to put that amendment on the dessert cart to hell:

We have ourselves a hurricane. A big-assed one.

Genius, isn't it? You can't beat a front-page disaster to make people forget their legal rights overnight. (Dubya and I have a good laugh over this one when we kick back the Remy's every Christmas Eve.) All we have to do is make sure a real world-beater of a storm tears through a densely populated area, and we can go right back to packing the kids into their classrooms like attention-deficient sardines.

"But how are we supposed to whip up a hurricane?" you ask. "Aren't they unpredictable acts of God?" Well, the man upstairs is more open to suggestion than you'd think. I've been looking into ways of turning the weather to our favor, and I think I've come up with a handful of bright ideas, any one of which should instantly make Florida wetter and windier than Christina Aguilera's love tunnel.

Cloud seeding – It may sound like an old wives' tale, but this quaint relief project has been embraced as a method of combating droughts by the simple people of Malaysia, Indonesia and Reno, Nev. To hear them describe it, all we have to do is fire up a bunch of those single-engine Cessnas we have left over from Dad's work with Noriega, take them high up above the clouds and dump out a few metric tons of Alka-Seltzer. Blammo! Say hello to the perfect storm.

Exploiting our Cuban contacts – We've been paying Operative González beacoup bucks to impersonate Castro ever since the old buzzard kicked off in 2001; now's the time to make our investment work for us. With the island safely and secretly in our control, we should have no trouble conscripting a legion of field workers to stand along the coastline and waft any passing tropical disturbance toward our shores with their bare hands. Hey, it beats the lash.

Pagan ritual/livestock sacrifice – If you're going to flirt with transgression, why not go all the way? With a trumped-up outbreak of mad cow as our cover, we can slaughter cattle to our hearts' content, offering them in tribute to the great weather god M'jumo. But we'd better be careful: He's a touchy character, say my friends in the voodoo community, and liable to smite us with a hail of salamanders if anybody utters the name "Al Roker."

Huge upright fans – I'm talking 40 stories tall, erected in a circle on the outskirts of a major metropolis. We point them all toward each other, flip the switches to "on" and run like the bejesus. Basic physics does the rest. But first, we have a short list of details to iron out. Will there be enough electrical outlets available? Three or four prongs? AC or DC? We don't want this thing to tank because nobody brought along batteries.

Mass hypnosis – I like this one the best, if only because it's the most cost-effective. Instead of going to the trouble of simulating a hurricane, we can just convince people there's been one. To that end, I've already told Johnnie Byrd to break out his swami hat and polish up the hypnotism act he used to do at parties. It might be good to make Orlando a flashpoint of the ruse, for a couple of reasons: No. 1, its people are used to being dominated by Disney, so they're hard-pressed to tell what's real and what's not. Second, most of their other businesses are already boarded up and/or falling apart, so we can count on lots of natural reinforcement when the hypnosis starts to wear off. And to seal the idea that the area has just experienced an honest-to-goodness Central Florida catastrophe, we can pay some college freshmen to walk around for a few days afterward mouthing, "Yeah, but we needed the pulverizing winds."

Oh, and no matter what method we choose, it goes without saying that nobody can breathe a word of it to the local media. But they'll probably be too busy writing about emergency prayer circles and lost hamsters to notice anyway. Trust me, this is going to work. Or, as my niece Jenna likes to say, "The shit's gonna be off the hook."

Kids ... don't you just love 'em?