Back to the drawing board

Pitching America's Sweetheart

© 2017 New America, used under a Creative Commons license

[J.D. VANCE FOR SENATE OFFICE: The inside of a small trailer fixed up like an office, with ugly rust carpeting, loads of fake wood, and tiny windows. J.D. VANCE, wearing tennis whites with a white sweater draped over his shoulders, looks uncomfortable as his campaign guru WILBUR “GIZMO” FLUTCHINS, dressed in a black suit with a paisley cravat, leans over a desk and briefs him.]

FLUTCHINS: J.D., we have to start catching up. Josh Mandel is killing us in the polls. Did you see what he said the other day? “Thomas Jefferson held church services inside the US Capitol. Let’s bring that back.” See, people here love that kind of thing!

VANCE: I don’t understand that poll. I’m America’s sweetheart. I’m not being ironical, by the way — irony is part of what’s poisoning the souls of our youth.

FLUTCHINS: That’s great, J.D., but it just doesn’t cut the mustard with the voters. They don’t want to hear intellectual reasons why America should be a theocracy — they want to hear about Jesus! And they want you to own the libs!

VANCE: I frequently own the libs on Twitter.

FLUTCHINS: Yee-eah, sort of, but J.D., please don’t talk about women on a rowing team, that just reminds them you went to an Ivy League school. Talk about things they can relate to.

VANCE: There are many fine rowing teams in the Big 10. For example —

FLUTCHINS: No, J.D., no, please, don’t argue, this isn’t Firing Line, just show ‘em how down-home you are! That’s easy, right? Because you are down home, dagnab it!

VANCE: That’s a common misunderstanding, actually “dagnab it” originated in —

FLUTCHINS: You have that Chamber of Commerce speech tonight. Did you get the grey suit I sent you?

VANCE: Yes, I did.

FLUTCHINS: Is it ugly?

VANCE: Very ugly.

FLUTCHINS: Good! Put a flag pin on it, and when you talk about Meemaw take the handkerchief out and dab your eyes. They’re gonna love you!

[CHAMBER OF COMMERCE DINNER. VANCE in a fugly suit with a flag pin giving his speech.]

VANCE: “Well,” he said, “a pig like that you don’t eat all at once.”

[The crowd is deathly silent, but for a few groans and coughs.]

It’s a holler thing, I suppose. We hill folk have an earthy, one might say elemental sense of humor. We don’t mourn the animals we kill to survive. Maybe it’s a sign of the times. As I look into the crowd I see there are more female members of this Chamber than there were in Meemaw’s time. So much has changed. God bless Meemaw. There’s a woman who knew how to butcher a hog.

[He pulls out his handkerchief.]

I’m sorry, the thought of Meemaw slaughtering a hog has got me a little choked up.

[He dabs the handkerchief and a great deal of chewed-up food cascades out of it and onto his jacket.]

I couldn’t eat the potatoes, because they had butter in them and I’m lactose intolerant.

[J.D. VANCE FOR SENATE OFFICE. FLUTCHINS as before; VANCE is dressed in a 70s After Six cream tuxedo with black pants and flocked collar.]

FLUTCHINS: Now, why are you wearing this thing? It’s like what my father wore to his prom.

VANCE: Thiel was having a thing with a 70s theme. He called it his Ron Jeremy soirée. I just got back.

FLUTCHINS: Ha ha, good thing the press didn’t see you.

VANCE: Well, there were photographers at the airport.

FLUTCHINS: Oh sweet Jesu. J.D.! You didn’t tell them anything, did you? Did you? Oh Lordy, what did you tell them?

VANCE: Just that I had been at the Ron Jeremy soirée with Peter Thiel —

FLUTCHINS: Oh Lordy, Oh Lordy!

VANCE: They asked me if I’d seen any of his movies and I said I was a little young for that kind of thing but that I’d pick up a whole bunch of them when I got back home.

[FLUTCHINS nervously brushes pens and papers off his desk.]

Why are you doing that?

FLUTCHINS: Oh, it’s something I used to do when I was a boy. Listen, J.D., we really have to lay it on thick at this Rumpelstiltskin Dinner tonight.

VANCE: What even is the Rumpelstiltskin Dinner?

FLUTCHINS: Did you read the file I sent you?

VANCE: If you sent it by email, I certainly did not. I feel strongly that Americans spend too much time online, and this is why the socialist —

FLUTCHINS: They’re Republicans, J.D., that’s all, this is some old thing and it doesn’t matter, look, my polls show people think you’re stuck up, J.D., they think Meemaw is some Hollywood actress, they don’t know she was an actual hillbilly, you have to really get out there and sell it, now go in the next room and put on the outfit I got you and here — [Holds out index cards] — just read these, they’re going to love you, I promise!

[The dais at the RUMPELSTILTSKIN DINNER. VANCE is wearing bib overalls with a white t-shirt and a big black bucket hat. He has a straw in his mouth and is holding FLUTCHINS’ index cards. One of his teeth is blacked out. Perched on his podium is a jug marked XXX.]

VANCE: [Sings] Where, oh where, are you tonight?
Why did you leave me here all alone?
I searched the world over and I thought I'd found true love.
But you met another and pthhp! You was gone.

[Applause, cheers. CURTAIN.]