HEAVEN – Speaking from a shining golden podium set among a landscape of eternal sunlight, fluffy clouds and sweet harp music, Qin Shihuang-di, the incumbent president of Heaven, spoke to reporters about his ongoing bout with the opposing party’s prime candidate, Joseph Smith, Jr.
“I’m quite confident that I shall be re-elected,” the former first emperor of China said confidently, shaking his head to block out the screams of damned souls hovering eternally at his shoulder, who would have righteously dragged Qin down to eternal torment had he not deified himself shortly before his death. “I’m the clear choice for Heaven’s continued prosperity and progress. And I was duly elected, regardless of what the ‘deathers’ say about the authenticity of my heavenly admission ticket.”
Qin’s opponent, Smith, then presented his opening arguments, and added some inspirational words for voters.
“If you want Heaven to be restored to its former glory, come on board,” proclaimed the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, gesticulating wildly, a beatific smile plastered on his face. “We’ll get this ethereal realm back on track, faithful to its roots.”
The debate then began in earnest. With Heaven’s professor emeritus of philosophy and noted pundit, Confucius, and former American Idol host Paula Abdul moderating, the subject of religion’s place in government was broached.
“Free thought is the only righteous path for any government to take,” the great Qin proclaimed. “I mean, if we held ourselves to your rigid standards, Mr. Confucius, where’s there any room to be human? What would I do with those palaces full of concubines? Institute mandatory Bible study before every orgy? I think not.”
In his reply, Smith was more direct.
“Well, of course, Mr. Kong, I believe that government should be totally subordinate to religion,” Smith shouted down from his perch atop a mastodon, as Elvis Presley and Salman Rushdie sipped on mineral water behind him. “Particularly Mormonism. You’re all acting like you haven’t seen a Mormon before. Oh wait, that’s right. You haven’t. This is Heaven. What am I doing here?”
Paula Abdul then asked the First Emperor for his opinion on government size.
“We have to have large government,” the divine leader insisted. “I mean, totally, all-consuming, explosively, pants-shittingly large. Nationalized health care, government-funded environmental initiatives, slave labor, concentration camps for dissidents, widespread corruption, a debt ceiling that you can see from up here—there it is, look, the bastard’s sky-high—that’s what every country needs. And the president of Heaven can’t afford to give a flying fig about public opinion. The public doesn’t know what it’s talking about. I just ignore them, they’re peasants. Insects don’t understand how the real world works. I’m the only one who does.”
“I believe in small government,” Smith declaimed, drumming a little tune on his mastodon, which cost about eighty million dollars to clone. “Small government, large families. And firing people. And strapping your livestock to whatever gosh darn part of your rig you want to. I once slung a donkey under my Conestoga wagon. He worked just fine after he came out from under there.”
Confucius’s final delicate question dealt with the major government overhauls which President Qin had instigated during his term.
“Listen, bud,” Emperor Qin shot back, “I’m about change. I’m a change-makin’ machine. I took a country on Earth that was so vast and divided that even God gave up halfway through making it and blasted a good chunk of it into bloody desert. I united it. I built a new country. An empire. A dynastic government which lasted for centuries, until the dirty Communists came along. And now here I am, in Heaven, doing the same old thing, just like I told my ancestors shortly before I had them assassinated in broad daylight. This is the right direction for Heaven. It’s been sparkly and warm and perfect for too long. Anybody who thinks otherwise is a hater. End of story.”
Smith’s closing arguments were predictable.
“Smaller,” he said, wiping his brow and shouting through a megaphone. “Smaller, smaller, smaller. The government needs to be smaller. More conservative. More on the whitish side, too. Oh yeah, and maybe a bit more Mormon.”