ROVE’s office is furnished in traditional Republican style, with dark wood, leather chairs, stuffed animal heads on the walls, and a fireplace with Nixon’s portrait over the mantle. The desk, which sits against the backstage wall, is large and covered with papers, a multi-line phone, and a small laptop. A framed poster of the movie “1984” hangs over it, behind ROVE’s head. The man himself sits hunched at the desk, working furiously on many things at once.
BRAZILE’s office is full of bright colors and abstract art. Her taste is more Danish modern than Rove’s, with a focus on light woods and steel accents. She’s also sitting behind a desk against the backstage wall, but unlike Bush’s Brain, she is busy taking turns staring off into space, and staring at the phone. Clearly, she is waiting for a call that just isn’t coming.
Finally, BRAZILE makes a decision. She picks up the phone and hits a Speed Dial button.
BRAZILE (into the phone): Hello? Helga, is that you? (smiling) Hi there darlin’, it’s Donna. (Her smile disappears after hearing what Helga has to say.) Now don’t you play that little game with me, Helga. I know he’s screening. I’ve been trying to get him for a week. You just go ahead and put me on with him, or I’ll just keep calling every three minutes until you do. (slight pause while Helga gives in) That’s what I thought. I’ll hold, but not for long!
(In ROVE’s office, the phone buzzes.)
ROVE (hitting the speaker setting on the phone): Yes, Helga?
HELGA: Karl, it’s that Donna Brazile again. She says she’s going to call every three minutes until you talk to her!
ROVE (frustrated): That woman just cannot take a hint! (sighs forebearingly) Okay, Helga, I might as well get this over with. Put her through. (A fake joviality enters his manner.) Hello, Donna!
BRAZILE (hitting the speaker setting on her phone): Well, FINALLY. Why have you been avoiding my calls, Karl? This had better be good. Things are starting to go really badly for President Obama. His bump in the polls from that trip he took last week has totally disappeared, and the media is starting to turn against him. They’re calling him the “presumptuous” nominee now, just like those PUMAs have been doing for the last few months! What are we going to do?
(ROVE is gleefully silent.)
BRAZILE: Hello? Are you there? Dammit, you helped me get the ball rolling with President Obama. Without your money and connections, he never would have gotten this far. But now our plan seems to be falling apart. You’ve gotta help me, Karl!
ROVE (allowing his full evil to show through): Well, Donna, I must say, you’re a lot stupider than I thought you were. You still haven’t figured it out? Good lord, woman, why don’t you buy a clue?
BRAZILE (shocked): What the hell are you talking about, Karl?
ROVE (with malicious satisfaction): Oh, Donna, Donna, Donna. Didn’t you ever wonder why I was so willing to be your friend? Why I was so happy to fund Obama’s campaign in the start-up phase? Why I was so thrilled to send all those Republicans to the caucuses to help him get the delegates he needed to win the nomination? You’re a gay black Democratic woman, and I’m Bush’s Brain. Did you really think you and I were a natural fit?
BRAZILE (faintly): I thought it was because you wanted to be on the winning side. I thought you hated John McCain.
ROVE (leaning back in the chair, hands behind head): Oh, I did, Donna, I did. But that was before I realized that the winning side…is John McCain’s side. With your help, John and I were able to knock out the strongest Democratic candidate and replace her with the weakest Democratic candidate. In a year where we thought all was lost, we Republicans are now poised and ready to take over the White House once again. Can you say, President McCain? I’m getting quite used to the sound of that myself.
BRAZILE: But Karl, you said Barack could win by expanding the electoral map. You said we didn’t need the Democratic base, that we could win the West and South, and forget about those bitter hillbillies in Appalachia. You said –
ROVE (scornfully): And you believed me, didn’t you? Good God, no wonder you’ve lost so many elections, Donna. What kind of an idiotic strategy is that? You’ve let your most reliable voters become completely disenchanted with their Party. That’s something we Republicans would never do. We’re smart enough to disrespect our voters behind their backs, so they won’t find out how much we despise them! Election 101, Donna. When will you liberal elitists ever learn?
BRAZILE (dazed): I, uh, don’t know what to say.
ROVE: How about “good-bye?” Because I hope this is the last time I have to talk to you. You make me sick to my stomach!
(BRAZILE and ROVE both disconnect from their speaker phones at the same time. ROVE, satisfied, sits back down at his desk and goes back to work. The lights slowly fade on his side of the stage.)
BRAZILE (standing up and pacing): Oh my God. Oh my God. I’m toast! I never told Barack where all that money was coming from. He thought he was getting Republican votes because they wanted to knock out Hillary, not him! What if he finds out that I was working with Karl? What if Howard Dean finds out? What am I going to do?!
(BRAZILE’s phone rings.)
BRAZILE (hitting the speaker): H-h-h-hello?
HOWARD DEAN (menacingly): Hello, Donna.
BRAZILE (rallying a bit): Oh! Howard! How are you? What’s new?
DEAN: Glad you asked. I want you to join me on my bus tour of the South. We think you can really help us reach out to African-American voters in the area. Plus, maybe you can scare some of the PUMAs away from me. They seem to show up everywhere I go, and I’m tired of answering their questions alone.
BRAZILE (relieved): Why, Howard, I’d be thrilled to come with you.
DEAN: Great, great! Your ride is just outside. Go ahead and pack. I’ll see you soon!
(They both hang up.)
BRAZILE: Whew! I guess everything’s all right then. I’d better make sure all my tracks are covered before I get on that bus. (BRAZILE exits through a side door.)
(The lights come up in ROVE’s office. Standing next to the desk is HOWARD DEAN.)
DEAN: Hey, Karl, thanks for the tip about Donna being a double agent. I can’t believe she’s been trying to sabotage Barack this whole time!
ROVE (secretly amused): Yes, it is hard to believe.
DEAN: I wonder how long it will take her to realize that she’s not going on the bus, but under it?
(ROVE and DEAN share a manly laugh at BRAZILE’s folly.)
ROVE (reaches into a desk drawer, pulls out a humidor): May I offer you a cigar, Howard?
DEAN: Why, thank you, Karl. (ROVE does so.) I’m so looking forward to working with you. Now, what’s the next step for President Obama?
ROVE: Have you ever heard of Diebold, Howard?