(Merrick Garland walks into the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room and sits down.)

Ranking Republican member Charles E. Grassley (Iowa): Great. Judge Garland is here and we’re going to be holding a hearing to confirm him.

Garland: Fascinating! Fascinating! I’m sorry, I am a little confused. You will have to help me. This committee can just hold a hearing to confirm someone who has been nominated by the president to a position?

Grassley: That is correct.

Garland: But in just four years there might be another president who wanted a different attorney general, so . . .

Grassley: Right, but that doesn’t preclude holding a hearing for you now.

Garland: It doesn’t! Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Well, I’m just very sorry that you had to dispose of Mitch McConnell in order for me to be allowed into this room.

Grassley: Mitch McConnell . . . is alive.

Garland: Are you sure? Because he said he was very sorry but nobody would be able to hold a hearing for me as long as he lived because he was — allergic? I think he said . . .

Grassley: Ah.

Garland: . . . so you know I sort of assumed that something had gone wrong with him . . .

Grassley: No.

Garland: . . . and I appreciate your changing the Senate rules on my behalf.

Grassley: Oh, ah.

Garland: (Smiling, as the light fixtures begin to vibrate slightly.) They very patiently explained that they could hold hearings for other people but not me because there was a Senate rule against confirming anyone named “Merrick” because doing so would — and I am unclear on the exact mechanism here — be a disaster for voters and America as we know it would cease to exist. I’m just sorry you had to go to all the trouble that must have been required to change the rules and stop that from happening!

Grassley: Well, uh, never mind all that. Let’s get started on the hearing.

Garland: (A chunk of plaster falls from the ceiling.) Are you sure we can proceed? Because a lot of people told me that it was impossible.

Grassley: I, for one, would have loved to have held a hearing for you last time, but the farmer’s almanac said it was a bad year for hearings and also our hands were tied and also we couldn’t find the right button to push to unlock the conference room for months at a time and also I hit a deer with my vehicle and it has been much on my mind ever since.

Garland: (Smiling pleasantly as all the pens in the room start to rattle and the face of one senator teleconferencing in briefly transforms into a potato.) So you could have done this any time you wanted?

Grassley: Technically, yes, although may I just say that actually we did not do so last time because I was ONLY following the precedent set by my Democratic colleagues as I always do with an almost fiendish dedication! And I would just like to note that we didn’t bring up any yearbooks or anything, we just did it all on principle.

Whirlwind of screams suddenly appearing next to Garland: Yes, it would be difficult to bring up any yearbooks or anything for someone you were not holding a hearing for!

Garland: So this could have happened five years ago for a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land?

Grassley: In the most literal sense, yes.

Garland: Ah! (Everything rattles, the ground shakes. The figure of a deer silhouetted by lightning appears briefly behind Grassley. McConnell, somewhere, begins to inflate and float toward the ceiling and has to be held down by several staffers.) Well, regardless, it’s certainly nice to be here at my confirmation hearing for this vital if short-term political position!

Grassley: And now I would like to hand the floor to my colleagues who will ask you a series of questions, mainly for the purpose of hearing themselves talk and setting themselves up for presidential runs later, and in fact, if you answer them, we will be upset and confused.

Garland: Thanks.

(A low hissing begins and continues throughout the next 13 hours.)

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