$5,000: The amount then-acting housing and urban development secretary Craig Clemmensen said to HUD colleague Helen Foster “will not even buy a decent chair”
$31,000: Custom dining table and chairs order HUD Secretary Ben Carson has been attempting to cancel
$139,000: Door upgrade at Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Department of the Interior
$43,000: Very secure phone installed in Environmental Protection Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office
$70,000: Two replacement desks, also in Scott Pruitt’s office
WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE SHOPPING FOR FURNITURE???
Hi, and welcome to a definitely normal, inexpensive retailer of normal furniture at reasonable prices. Thanks for coming in, Mr. Secretary!
First, do you need office supplies? Be sure to check out our pens, which are $800 apiece and made of the shin bones of a saint. We also have cheap, low-end pens (ballpoint, with one color of ink) for $100, if you want to save.
Obviously, we offer a range of very affordable tables and chairs. These really run the gamut! On the high end, we have a saber-tooth tiger leather piece stuffed with an actual member of the middle class. Or you’ll probably want one like this — made from that same cheap and reasonable material, but it swivels! Or, if you’re desperate to save, on the low end, we have a barely acceptable, shoddy, disgusting chair that begins at the cheap price of $5,000. This hideous chair is made from the pelt of only a single snow leopard, and no effort was made to give the snow leopard a classical education.
Over there you can see our range of affordable tables. Our bestseller comes directly from Versailles and was briefly used as a guillotine to punish the excesses of the aristocracy. In the midrange, we have one constructed from the trunk of a redwood that grew unmolested in California for hundreds of years, predating the arrival of Lewis and Clark.
Ooh, I see you looking at that conference table. It LOOKS like a normal conference table, but before we put the finish on, we took the entire paycheck of a family of four and burned it in front of them. That’s what those streak marks are. Tears, and the residue from the burning. If you spread a cloth on this table and speak the magic words, it will be set with all manner of good dishes and you can feed almost a million people, but that carries an added markup of $150,000.
But if you don’t need the cloth or additional features, you can get it for $31,000.
What other items can I help you with?
A phone? We have a range of those, starting around $20,000, pretty much your standard phone price. Our cheapest one is a member of an improv team holding his hand like a phone, and our next cheapest is a different member of the same improv team holding his hand AS THOUGH IT CONTAINS AN INVISIBLE PHONE. Next cheapest is a novelty phone shaped like a banana that does not actually make calls, but it looks so much like a banana you forgive it. Our most expensive phone is a carrier pigeon, but he’s very reliable and has a PhD. Or you can get the Very Secure model, which tends to run about $43,000, but it’s worth it if your calls are full of SECRETS.
Okay, I see you need a desk. Again, we have a range. At the top of the line, we have the Ramses II, made of rare stone hewed from the tomb of a pharaoh, and if you sit at it long enough, you are guaranteed to achieve work-life balance. Any secretary seated at this desk will obey your demands without question, and their stenography will be perfect. Those who use this desk long enough don’t have to spend time in purgatory after they die. The soul of Thomas Jefferson is trapped in this desk. (We can also remove it, but that costs an added $40,000.) On the low end, you can get a desk that is just a white-collar worker with a firm, flat back, braced on all fours. If you get a set of two ($70,000), you’ll save $800,000 (the cost of a lifetime of regret incurred by knowing your desk was lonely).
What else? A door? Okay, we have a series of doors. Our cheapest is $100,000. It’s not actually a door, just a picture of a door, but the picture was painted by Pablo Picasso. Our next cheapest is $102,000. It is a Georgia O’Keeffe painting we think might be a door, but it might also be something different. You need a working door? We have one door that can work if pressed, but it was educated for a life of leisure, and sometimes it will just decide not to work for no real reason. It is a very classy door, though, and a charming addition to cocktail parties.
We have a normal door that opens fine, but it’s $120,000, and sometimes when you open it, it leads to Narnia and you have to spend decades of your life in a magical kingdom resolving disputes among mythical creatures. For $139,000, we can make sure that won’t happen.
Is that everything you needed? Great. I can start ringing you up over here. I’m so glad you came. Don’t worry, these prices are all very reasonable — according to Louise Linton. Why, it’s barely a single chartered flight!