If there’s a smoking gun, I predict it’s going to be one or more of the following:
His actual legal name is neither Mitt nor Willard. It is Tiffani.
He has a controlling interest in the Impossible to Open Packaging Company, the Speed Trap Camera Mfrs. of America and/or the No You Can’t Ever Reach a Human corporate-voice-mail development company.
He is still paying down a huge settlement for an ill-fated high-school prank in which a classmate unfortunately drowned in a toilet.
He employs a hair stylist, massage therapist and self-esteem counselor for the dancing horse.
His tax-shelter plan is so shrewd that he is, technically, indigent. He qualifies for, and uses, food stamps.
He lists $2.4 million in gambling losses from individual $10,000 bets he made with other politicians on whether he can prove his facts.
He owns an orphanage full of children with the same organ-tissue types of all his family members.
He keeps on yearly retainer a company called Ace Android Repair.
His butler has a six-figure salary, as does his butler’s butler.
He takes depreciation on a yacht named I Am Better Than You.
In addition to his car elevator, he also has a horse elevator and a moneybag elevator.
His household staff includes a jester, a food taster and, for Ann, a lady-in-waiting. He deducts the cost of whips for flogging the servants.
He writes off his extensive remedial “acting like a person” lessons.
Every year, he takes a business deduction for leasing his sons from Central Casting.
He files two tax returns every year, once as old-school liberal Mitt and one as tooth-gnashing, conservative Mitt. The IRS commissioner has specifically ruled this okay, saying they are “two different people entirely.”
After firing his brother-in-law, Murray, he offshored his tax prep to the accounting firm of Rajnish & Hasbani, of Peshawar. It charged him $115, based on 200 hours of billable time.
Of course, maybe it’s none of the above. Maybe we’re thinking about this all wrong, and Romney isn’t afraid of looking like a rich, elitist snob who games the system and pays only a 15 percent tax rate. Maybe he’s afraid of looking like a sucker. Remember, the tax returns in question are from 2009 and before. Maybe Mitt is humiliated to have to admit that when he trusted his American brother-in-law, he was paying 37 percent taxes, just like all the rest of us ordinary middle-class dirtbags.
Rachel Manteuffel contributed to this column.
E-mail Gene at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find chats and updates at washingtonpost.com/magazine.