Jerry Brown, the aging governor of California, addressed a special session of the state legislature yesterday to nominate Dick Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein, to receive this year’s prestigious Charles Crocker Award. Crocker is the well-known Robber Baron from the golden days of the trans-continental railroad. In his remarks, Brown said “Like Charles Crocker before him, Mr. Blum has inspired us all by not allowing himself to be sidetracked by even the most egregious criticisms and name calling.” Governor Brown was referring to the persistent charges of nepotism, corruption and outright thievery after Mr. Blum was given the contract for constructing the long awaited Bullet Train.
The award came shortly after it was announced the Bullet Train, the state’s flagship project, was already an impressive $4 billion over budget and 7 years behind schedule. Brown took a swipe at those who he called malcontents by accusing them of attempting to impede progress by trying to impose fiscal responsibility and good sense on a project that requires neither. With virtually no opposition party whatsoever in California Brown bragged, “We can do what we want, anytime we want and we don’t have to listen to you.”
Brown, who prefers the term fermenting rather than aging, appeared to fatigue quickly. But before his aides could get him out from behind the microphone, he once again strongly denied any involvement in the Teapot Dome Scandal. When Brown was safely back in his seat, Kevin de León, president pro tem of the Senate, moved up to introduce Dick Blum.
Mr. de León, who after much thought, decided to come out as anti-corruption had been heard earlier in the evening to whisper in a hot-mic moment, “It never ceases to amaze me how many dimwits still think this train is a good idea.” After referring to himself as staunch, though never really saying what he is staunch about, Mr. de León said some very kind words about Mr. Blum before turning the podium over to Dick.
Mr. Blum took the opportunity to respond to critics who claimed his being awarded the contract was a result of his wife’s influence. Mr. Blum was quick to remind them he strictly adhered to the “fairness in government” guidelines as set out under the Lowe Bid Rule. Referring of course to Amos Lowe, second cousin to Diane Feinstein, who has the final say so on who is awarded the state’s many lucrative contracts. He repeatedly denied being a vulture of opportunity and declared himself, “Dedicated to the welfare of all Californians and determined to see this through, no matter how much it costs or how long it takes.”
The Bullet Train has managed to lay 118 miles of track at an astounding $35 million per mile. “But, we still have to go back and pound in the spikes before we can use it”, Mr. Blum cautioned the optimistic group. With only 400 miles left, Mr. Blum was confident he could keep the cost of a round trip ticket between Los Angeles and San Francisco down in the $220,000 range. When asked why the cost of riding the rail seemed a tad high, Mr. Blum said that by the time it was finished it would be competing with teleporters. “And by then it would only be attracting those customers who were allergic to having their atoms scrambled.” Estimates of Mr. Blum’s cut of the taxpayer’s sore pie run from $1 million to $5 million per mile of track laid.
As Mr. Blum was bragging about all of the credibility ceilings he has managed to shatter, Governor Brown broke free from his aides and reclaimed the microphone to give his enthusiastic endorsement to the League of Nations and assured President Woodrow Wilson, “I’ll telegraph you the moment we get a bead on Pancho Villa.”
After the senescent governor was finally corralled and being taken back for his nap, he lifted his face and searched in all directions as if trying to determine where all the voices were coming from.