“Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin — can even begin to imagine — what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” Mitch McConnell said in a speech Wednesday, explaining his opposition to reforming the filibuster.

At this, a low laughter began somewhere near the ceiling of the Senate chamber. It went on a very long time until the walls rang, like the Liberty Bell would if it hadn’t been for the incident.

“No?” a voice said, and then the laughter redoubled. “We can’t? We can’t even begin to imagine? I think … I think I can begin to imagine it.”

Mitch McConnell started to explain that the Senate was a body where, technically, you needed unanimous consent to turn the lights on before noon, and the laughter began again.

“I’m sorry,” the voice said. “It’s just, you are Mitch McConnell, no? (R-Ky.)?”

Mitch McConnell agreed that he was.

“The Senate minority leader, the ‘party of no’ guy, thanks to whose tireless efforts judicial vacancies piled up all through the Obama era like unread messages in the Gmail of a moderately depressed millennial?”

Mitch McConnell agreed that he was, although he was not certain about the simile.

“And you’re saying it will be really difficult to imagine a Senate where business grinds to a halt because you’re making it difficult to get things through?”

Mitch McConnell said that yes, he was.

“And you’re Mitch McConnell.”

The laughter started up again, and Mitch McConnell waited for it to finish. “I’m sorry,” the voice went on, “it’s just — you have seen the Senate lately, yes? Or wait, are you a time traveler? That would explain it.”

Mitch McConnell explained stiffly that he only traveled forward in time, unless something was trying to get to the floor of the Senate that he disapproved of, in which case he could remain suspended indefinitely between motions.

“What year do you think it is?” the voice asked. “If you thought it were, say, 2009, I could see how you would think a threat that ordinary business in the Senate would be bogged down by constant bad-faith appeals to arcane procedures, leaving all legislation subject to the whim of Mitch McConnell, might carry weight. But hearing you say it now — it is like Mitch McConnell dropped me in the middle of a desert from a helicopter and I have lived here for years and now I know what lizards are safe to eat and what lizards are not safe to eat, and suddenly Mitch McConnell is here saying he will drop me in the middle of a desert from a helicopter as though it’s a threat, and it’s like, Mitch, where do you think we are?”

“You really like similes,” Mitch McConnell said. “But my threat still carries weight. Picture a Senate where everything is very unpleasant all the time. Picture a Senate where nothing gets through unless it gets through me, and where I exult in thwarting the agenda of the opposing party at every turn, even for wafer-thin reasons. Picture a Senate where I, Mitch McConnell, rule supreme, through sheer contumaciousness. You can’t picture it, can you?"

“Uh,” the voice said. “You are just having fun and accepting the premise now, yes?”

“This scenario bears no resemblance to anything anyone has lived!" Mitch McConnell said. “Use your utmost imagination to envision a forbidding place where nothing got through without constant opposition from me —"

“I’m sorry,” the voice said. "Do you have any other threats? If this doesn’t work, are you going to replace an increasing number of Republican members of Congress with appeasers of the lunatic fringe? Are you going to make Donald Trump the president? I’m just trying to imagine what threats you have left in the bag. If we don’t let you block the upcoming series of necessary voting rights measures, are you going to — undermine Americans’ voting rights? Do you see what I’m getting at here? Banishing us to the outer darkness just isn’t very much of a threat if we’re already in the Senate with Mitch McConnell.”

Mitch McConnell tried to continue his speech, but the laughter kept going.

Read more from Alexandra Petri: