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A room in the White House.

Karl Rove, Presidential political advisor: Mr. President, that State of the Union 2003 speech has to include a little something about energy.

George W. Bush , President of the United States: It does, huh? All that Saddam talk ain't gonna be enough for the American people?

Rove: Mmm, I'm afraid not, sir

POTUS: Well what's our plan? I don't have all day. Have we cranked out a plan and given it to Congress to sign yet? I've gotta go runnin.

Rove: Mmmm, I'm afraid we don't have much in the way of an energy plan, sir.

POTUS: No? Whose fault is that? I want names. Damn that Daschle. I'll bet he's behind this.

Richard Cheney , Vice President of the United States: *cough* That's not quite right, sir. We have created various energy options, but they've gone, well, unread.

POTUS: Unread? You mean, like they're in somebody's inbox, but he hasn't read 'em yet?

Cheney: That would appear to be the case.

-------- uncomfortable silence ----------------

POTUS: What are you guys lookin' at me for? I'm the President. I don't have time to read this 'n that. I'm here to manage. Give me the skinny, Dick, right now. Three options. You know it's hard to think about any more than that, and besides, them Secret Service guys are waitin' for me to go runnin' with them. Today's our speed day.

Cheney: All right, sir. Three options. One, slash and burn the old-growth forests out west and use the energy for generating electricity. Upside is, trees grow back and we've got lots of 'em. Downside is, all the smoke. Two, increase oil & gas production. Upside is, our oil and gas industry has been chomping at the bit to do this for years. It'd reinvigorate the economy too. Downside is, the Gulf of Mexico, California and Alaska coastal regions may become ecologically disadvantaged for a short time. We can spin that, however.

POTUS: "Ecologically disadvantaged." Will someone translate that so that a West Texas boy can understand that?

Colin Powell , secretary of State: It means, Mr. President, that unforseen events could occur which could result in an unplanned commingling of oceanic water and oil and oil byproducts.

POTUS: Colin you overeducated sunufabitch I can't tell if you're making fun of me or telling me the truth. Dial it down, brainiac.

Condoleezza Rice , National Security Council advisor: Oil spils, sir. Ships breaking up. Bad press. The Sierra Club gets very unhappy when Exxon loses a supertanker off the coast somewhere. The press loves pictures of men cleaning the black ooze off terns and seagulls. Sir.

POTUS: Keerist on a crutch. My daddy warned me about that. Executive decision: no go. That's it. That's a no go. Ain't gonna happen. Have to make some phone calls to some buds I go hunting with, smooth that one out, but right now, it's a no go. Next.

Cheney: Yes sir. *cough* It appears we've got one that trickled up through the science advisors. This one's a long shot, but it may be intriguing.

POTUS: Science, huh? Never was my strong suit. Had a bad teacher I guess. He wore glasses. I never did get along with the teachers who wore glasses. No offense, Dick and Karl.

Cheney and Rove: *cough* None taken, sir. Mmmm.

Cheney: This one's on hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen combines with oxygen, releases energy - lots of it, apparently - and then makes water. You could drink the exhaust. General Motors has studied this for years and years.

POTUS: Hydergin? Tell me more. (Scrunches up face. Looks shrewd, in his best smart-guy imitation.)

Cheney: Yes sir. Water can be separated into hydrogen and oxygen gases. These are kept separately until the moment they're needed. The gases are mixed together, and with a little spark they're combined explosively. The energy released is quite a lot. The hydrogen and oxygen cells are where the real technology comes in.

POTUS: Water, huh? We got lots of water. Wait a minute. (He attempts to use his shrewd poker face.) If this is so simple, how come the commanists haven't invented it yet? How come we're not drivin' around in pickup trucks burnin' this stuff?

Cheney: I don't quite know, sir. I was a political sciences major in college. You'd have to ask your science advisors.

POTUS: Who ARE my damn science advisors?

Rove: Exactly, sir. We don't invite them to the meetings. They're a bit... naïve. When they answer my questions, it's like WHOOSH! (hand flies over top of head). You might be able to understand them, of course, sir, but they're beyond me.

Cheney: *cough*

Powell and Rice barely suppress smiles.

POTUS: Awright I gotta wrap up here. Here it is. Executive decision. Bull by the horns. Dick, you don't understand this.

Cheney: No sir.

POTUS: And Karl, you don't understand this.

Rove: No sir.

POTUS: Condi?

Rice: Not absolutely, Mr. President.

POTUS: Mr. Smarty Britches? (looks at Powell)

Powell: Er, no, Mr. President.

POTUS: Well then it's simple. Here it is. Here's the plan. Gather round, and learn from the master. We tell the American people that we got this plan, see? This plan for energy. Chicken in every pot kinda thing. (Looks around room to get approval. No one drops their poker face. They're mystified and terrified at the same time.)

POTUS: We say, Hey, we got energy. Got energy for the cars. Don't need oil from them Ay-rab nations. If Kuwait gets blown up again, we can make it. Not right away - see that's the thing. Let it sink in. Get the brainiacs into the newspapers, discuss it, get some press, kinda like our missile defense shield, pretty soon it's in the schools. Right now the average person can't understand it. Hell, the smartest guys in the White House can't understand it. But the science guys say we can do it. But it'll take TIME. Like, a few administrations. Another four year term. Maybe another one after that. Maybe two after that. If they're Republican. Gotta hold the line. Science. Hold the line. Hydergin. Infinite power. I LIKE it!

POTUS: Awright, finish up here, Dick. I gotta run. Heh heh. Get it? Sometimes I crack myself up.


Excerpt from the State of the Union address, January, 28, 2003

Tonight I am proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

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