WHILE VISITING WASHINGTON, I was strolling near the White House when I saw an unusual sight.
A burly man was trotting up Pennsylvania Avenue, carrying another man, piggy-back fashion.
I caught up with them and said: Excuse me, may I ask you a question?
"No comment," said the scowling man who was riding piggy-back.
How about you? I asked the man doing the carrying.
"Sorry," he gasped, "I just work here."
Look, I'm merely curious, I said. Why are you riding piggy-back on this man?
"Not that it is any of your business," the rider said, "but I happen to be going to lunch."
Just then I heard a buzzing sound. The burly man reached under his jacket, withdrew a portable phone and said: "Hello? Yeah, he's right here."
He handed it up to his passenger and said: "It's for you."
The piggy-back rider took the phone and said: "Hello? Oh, yes, chief. I'm on my way to an important luncheon meeting."
He paused for a moment, then said: "No, I am not traveling to lunch on a military jet. What? Of course, I am not traveling on a borrowed corporate jet either. I assured you that I wouldn't do that anymore."
He paused for several seconds more, then said: "Absolutely not. I am not in a government limousine. How am I getting to lunch? As a matter of fact, I'm traveling by foot. Yes sir, it is good exercise. Thank you, I thought you'd be pleased."
He clicked off the phone, and they resumed their journey.
However, after another hundred yards, the burly man's legs became wobbly. Sweat poured down his face. Finally he collapsed to his knees and wheezed: "I just can't go another step, boss. I've had it."
"Darn," said his passenger, stepping off. "You can't get good help these days. Now what will I do?"
He glanced about and exclaimed: "Ah, look, a shopping center. I shall commandeer one of those empty shopping carts."
He leaped aboard the cart, scowled at me and said: "Well, what are you waiting for? Push."
Well, actually, I was on my way to ...
"Don't argue with me," he said, thrusting his arm forward. "Move 'em out."
As I pushed the shopping cart down the street, he took out his portable phone, punched in a number and said: "John here. Any messages? Who? Woodward of the Washington Post? Tell him to drop dead at his earliest convenience. Who else? Safire of The New York Times? Tell him that if his schedule permits he should drop dead too. On second thought, put out a statement saying that I am contrite and regret my recent actions and I do not wish any of them to drop dead unless they do so of their own free will, which would be regrettable, but in the national interest.
"Now, while I'm at lunch, here's what I want you to do. Check for leaks, got that? Yes, leaks. No, no, you idiot, not my bathroom sink. Go stand outside the offices of my underlings, put your ear to their doors and see if you can tell what they're talking about and who they're talking to. That's right. Be particularly alert for phrases like 'president's patience is wearing thin' or 'arrogant and abrasive' or 'recent damaging disclosures' and that sort of seditious, treasonous, disloyal piffle. Yes, and when you're done with that check the classified ads to see if there are any rare stamps for sale, cheap. Now get to work and don't go around telling anybody I'm arrogant and abrasive because I've got somebody watching you too, and I'll know about it."
He clicked off the phone and shouted to me: "Why are you slowing down, I'm running late. Faster, faster."
I'm sorry, I said, but I slowed down to avoid hitting that bag lady.
"Never mind her. Every poll shows that 90 percent of bag ladies don't vote, and those who do are Democrats. Out of the way, hag!"
Excuse me, but how much farther is it to the restaurant?
"Just around that corner. Step on it."
When we arrived at the restaurant, he leaped out of the shopping cart and was greeted by the maitre d'.
"Ah, Mr. Sununu," he said. "Your regular table is ready." And he snapped his fingers.
Two busboys appeared. They lifted Sununu and carried him toward his table. As they did, he turned his head and yelled: "And don't forget to return the cart or they'll be carping at me about that too."