Does Elizabeth Warren have to do everything around here?
Senator Elizabeth Warren let Rachel Maddow know her plan. Judge Neil Gorsuch was making his rounds to all the Senators, to meet them and woo them, including her, and Senator Warren suggested that Maddow hide under a desk, with tape rolling, in case Gorsuch bashed Trump, and they could politicize the moment.
“We don’t want him squirreling out of anything before the confirmation hearings begin. I want him on the record he will limit the power of the executive, and I want to be the one holding him accountable. Let’s gotcha Gorsuch, by golly.”
Senator Warren knew that if Rachel Maddow recorded her being sassy yet righteous towards Judge Gorsuch she’d be able to raise even more money than she had when she tricked Senator McConnell into interrupting her Coretta Scott King reading.
“This is your caucus,” Rachel Maddow validated the senator from Massachusetts but said more to the camera and for posterity.
There was a light knock on the door. Rachel Maddow high-fived Elizabeth Warren and scooted under the desk. It was Neil Gorsuch, and he was extremely punctual.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Senator Warren,” the Denver judge said as he extended his hand. “And Ms. Maddow. Is that you under there? I am so happy you’re here.” He peered under the desk. “Thank you both for your tireless public service.” He put his hands together as if in prayer and bowed patronizingly.
“You know, you could’ve been late if you needed to be. Daddy’s not going to holler at you when he gets home from work. That’s not the world I live in, Judge Gorsuch,” Senator Warren said loud enough so mic’d up Rachel Maddow could pick up the audio.
Judge Gorsuch nodded agreeably.
“Anyway, thanks for coming in to review this questionnaire,” Senator Warren waved a bunch of papers in Judge Gorsuch’s face, “but you should know that I stand with Merrick Garland.”
“He’s no longer in the running, Senator.” Judge Gorsuch cleared his throat like an introvert. “His nomination expired last month.”
“Are you mansplaining to me?” Elizabeth Warren ducked down and looked directly into the camera, smirking but earnestly.
“Of course you know how it works. I’d never suggest otherwise. I read your bankruptcy casebook to prepare for our talk today.”
“You said you were disheartened by President Trump’s statements about the Judiciary. But then you walked back from that. I wanted to give you the opportunity to really say what you think, and to mean what you say,” Senator Warren said like a mother whose teenage son, vomiting from alcohol abuse, told her he was sick because he had eaten bad pizza.
“I see here, for instance, that your middle name is McGill.” Senator Warren tapped the questionnaire. “That’s a fun, patrician name. Sounds like a last name. People whose middle names are also last names, I find, have never tried fast food in their entire lives. No need. Their country clubs cook for them. I bet you find that the President’s predilection for fast food like McDonald’s is somehow both piggish and boring. That’s what you meant when you wrote on this questionnaire that your name is Neil McGill Gorsuch, yes?”
Judge Gorsuch looked at Rachel Maddow to see if this was for real. Senator Warren’s iPhone pinged.
“Senator Schumer sometimes talks to me via Facebook comment thread. He says it’s more transparent. I’m sorry but this will just take a second.” Senator Warren unlocked her phone. “He’s addicted to nasal spray again, Rachel.”
Rachel Maddow made an ‘of course he is face’ from under the desk.
“You. Need. To. Wean. Yourself. Off. That. Garbage.” Senator Warren recited as she pecked onto her phone. “It. Will. Raise. Your. Blood. Pressure.”
“Hold on, it says he is typing.” Rachel Maddow said, now looking into her own phone.
“He says he can’t. He gets plugged up every twelve hours like clockwork. I don’t know what he wants from me anymore.”
“Tell him you’re not his mom.” Rachel Maddow winked to Judge Gorsuch and then to the camera.
“I see you once spoke by phone to Steve Bannon,” Senator Warren said to Judge Gorsuch. “This questionnaire doesn’t elaborate on the nature of your conversation but am I correct to assume that you told him that you’ll never watch “Seinfeld” again, and thus won’t accidentally enrich him, and that you’ll even change the channel as soon as a “Seinfeld” promo airs, even if you’re in the middle of something very good?”
Judge Gorsuch looked at his hands.
“What’s your favorite show, Judge?” Rachel Maddow tagged in.
“That one with a young pope, probably?”
“Steve Bannon hates the Pope so you weren’t talking about that with him,” Senator Warren’s office phone began ringing. “Hold on, jeepers. I’m so sorry.” She answered, “Hi Senator Franken.” One second, she gestured to Judge Gorsuch.
“It’s just a 5K, Al. Couch to 5K is the program. You told me you wanted to be able to keep up with grandkids one day.”
She hit a button on the phone. “Frick. I meant to mute it and I hung it up. The American experiment is imploding and Congress thinks it’s a good time to upgrade our dang phones.” The phone rang again. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, here he is again.”
“Hi, Al. No, of course I didn’t hang up on you. I meant to mute you.” Senator Warren made a ‘wrap it up’ motion with her free hand. “No, no. I hardly ever mute you.” She elaborately rolled her eyes. “I didn’t mean, hardly ever. I never mute you. Neil Gorsuch is here, is all.”
Judge Gorsuch pulled out his own phone and began texting his wife that interviews were a disaster but not predictably so.
“Yes, we’re doing our interview now, Al. So just take a few breaths. What does the app say? Jog a half mile and then walk a quarter mile and then jog a half mile? You can do that, Al. It’s a half mile from my office to the Senate floor. Imagine we are jogging together to the Senate floor, where we will mouth off to Senator McConnell. You always have fun doing that.”
Rachel Maddow beamed at the warmth Senator Warren was exuding. It was a necessary antidote to institutions crumbling everywhere around her.
“Judge Gorsuch, you list here your most significant decision as Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, which I read as your first step towards undermining the power of the administrative state.” Senator Warren said the case name in proficient Spanish.
“I wouldn’t say undermine.”
“Sure, sure. What you mean to be saying is that federal agencies, ICE agents aside, are probably our last bulwark against Trumpism and that civil servants are heroes. Lifetime tenure empowers them to stand up to autocracy.”
Judge Gorsuch looked out the window and focused on a cardinal that landed on a tree branch because that is not what he meant to be saying.
Senator Warren’s iPhone rang. “Oh boy. It’s Senator Feinstein. I have to take this. She’s been in a bad place lately.” She waved her hand, exasperatedly. “Hi Dianne. He didn’t pay out the prize money yet? You know he is a crook, Dianne. The other security guards at the metal detectors know he is a crook. Didn’t he do this last year with the pool money as well?”
She mouthed, ‘I’m so sorry’ to both Judge Gorsuch and Rachel Maddow, who was now sitting in a large comfy chair, legs slung over the arm.
“What’s the recourse? Gambling, even light interoffice gambling, is against the law. It’s not like you can press charges.”
She moved the receiver away from her mouth, and cupped it. “Can she?” She asked Judge Gorsuch.
“I’ll have to look it up?” The judge offered.
“Dianne, he took the money because he was desperate. He deserves your pity, not your scorn.”
“She’s doing a nice job leading the opposition. Don’t you agree?” Rachel Maddow asked Judge Gorsuch, who was now fidgeting distractedly, and thinking up ways to end this interview. “She thinks I’m producing this segment to demonstrate how you’re a stealth dick. But it’s going to be about how she is a majestic mother eagle, prudently teaching her eaglet colleagues how to fly.”
“Okay, back to the questionnaire, yeesh.” Senator Warren wrapped on the stapled packet with her knuckles. “You write here that Justice Sotomayor quoted you in a concurrence she wrote about a prisoner’s free exercise of religion. Did you mean to say that Justice Sotomayor is a goddess and that empathy really is the perfect theory of the constitution and that she should quit smoking so she lives forever and never needs to be replaced?”
Rachel Maddow said “Amen” sincerely for the first time in her life. Senator Warren swung around, and looking directly into Rachel Maddow’s camera said, “Justice Sotomayor, please, please, please quit smoking.”
The door opened. Senator Klobuchar walked in without knocking. She was wearing frumpy yet sensible walking sneakers.
“Oh drat,” Senator Warren said to Judge Gorsuch. “We climb the Capitol dome stairs every day at 11am. You’re welcome to join us.”
“It’s after 11 though?”
“Nice gotcha, Judge Gorsuch,” Senator Klobuchar said. “Being on time is a construct though.”
“Don’t bother, Amy. He’s polite but opaque. I’m writing in Garland. Did you remember your pedometer today?”
Rachel Maddow stopped taping as the Senators exited for their constitutional. Senator Warren began streaming “What’s Up?” by the 4 Non Blondes from her iPhone.