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THE JAUNDICED EYE

Please Hold for a Presidential Premium

March 02, 1997|Bruce McCall | Bruce McCall is a regular contributor to the New Yorker

NEW YORK — 'If you are a political donor, press #1, now.

"Thank you! If you have a million dollars or more to donate, press #2, now.

"Thank you! And "thanks a million" for your donation. To select your premium, press #3, now.

"Thank you! Choose one of the following premiums:

"No. 1: Ambassador to a nation with golf courses. For full information, press Star-#1, now.

"No. 2: A VIP seat on the inaugural weekly Washington-Indonesia Air Force One flight. For full information, press Star-#2, now.

"No. 3: Nomination as head of the CIA, pro tem. For full information, press Star-#3, now.

"No. 4: A White House tour followed by a half-hour nap on the couch in the Oval Office, "nerve-center of democracy," with complimentary beverage. For full information, press Star-#4, now.

"Thank you! If you pressed Star-#1, #2, #3 or #4, please hold.

"Thank you! The president is sorry. These premiums are currently sold out. Press the pound sign, now, for other options.

Bruce McCall is a regular contributor to the New Yorker.

"Thank you! A refund is not an option. Options are subject to change without notice. Currently available options are:

"A) 25 copies of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Grammy-winning audiotape, "It Takes a Village," autographed by the president.

"B) Official U.S. Dept. of Agriculture porta-cooler, beach towel, bathrobe, T-shirt, umbrella, tote bag and coffee mug, all with facsimile signature of (ex-) Secretary Mike Espy.

"C) 1,000 "saxophone" lapel pins in 2 karat gold, approximately 4", boxed, almost identical to those given out to visitors by the president.

"Press Star-97, now, to order your optional premium.

"Thank you! We are sorry, there is no record of your having contributed $1 million to the president's campaign or the Democratic National Committee. You are not eligible for an optional premium at this time. If you are using a touch-tone phone, please type in your Social Security number, now.

"Thank you! That number is not in our computerized donor files. You are not eligible for an optional premium at this time. Either try again, or press Pound-97 for assistance.

"Thank you! We are sorry that we cannot honor your request for a premium or optional premium at this time. We would like to offer, with our compliments, a voucher good for an overnight stay for two in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House. Continental breakfast is included. To arrange date and time, press #9, now.

("Best of Fleetwood Mac" tape)

"Thank you! All lines are currently busy. Please stay on the line."

"Hi there. This is your president. While you're waiting--I, too, know the bitter disappointment of being snubbed, the dirty feeling of having been used. I share your pain. But, maybe, you and I together, we can do sumpin' about it. Of course, it takes money. Won't you press #1, now? An operator is standing by to tell all about our exciting donor premiums."*

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