It all started on a Wednesday night. Not just any Wednesday
night either. This was the night I would announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States of America. And on the Letterman show with me were director James Cameron and pop singer Lily Allen.
Good to meet you, Senator. I was just telling Dave that my new documentary 'The Lost Tomb of Jesus' was going to be quite a powerful weapon in the swiftly emerging War On Easter...
Oh my, I've never seen a real US Senator up close like this before. Are they all as old as you?
Screw you both. Dave, I'm here tonight because I promised that if I announced my candidacy, it would be on your show. Here goes - I am announcing that Iím running for president of the United States.
Thank you. Thank you very much. I'll be making my formal announcement sometime in April.
So, you're saying that this isn't the real announcement, this is the announcement before the announcement?
That's right, Dave. He's going to do the real announcement on Leno.

Son of a bitch. Well in that case, why don't you play us on out of here, Paul. Goodnight everybody.

Heck of a show, you all. We'll probably save parts of this for the highlight reel.
Say, McCain, what's the big fucking deal with you? I felt like you were trying to blow me off while we were out there.
Look here, Cameron, I have a healthy respect for what you do as a film maker, but I don't have any respect at all for you making a documentary which attacks the beliefs of my constituents.
Oh, I get it... You know, McCain, you strike me as a bit of a coward, a man who might be afraid of ghosts...
I ain't afraid of no ghost, except for The Holy Ghost, and I'm not as much afraid as it is that I just don't understand the whole concept.
Not afraid, eh? Then I suppose that you would gladly agree to spend twenty-four hours on my haunted houseboat...
Haunted houseboat? Not on your life! I've seen how you treat boats... and besides, there's that whole thing about the ghosts...
I see... And if I promised you a ten million dollar campaign contribution if you could stay the term, would that make any difference to you?
I'll go. Flippin' 'ell, mate. Where do we sign up?
Harrumph.   Harrumph.   Ahrooogity harrumph. I... do... not... respect your attitude, sir, and for that reason, and for that reason alone, I will accept your challenge, and furthermore, I shall participate with the full anticipation of victory, and all that I shall ask from you aside from the previously mentioned 10 mil is your full assurance that this haunted houseboat of yours is occupied by a bipartisan cross section of the Senate, to whom you need not mention the terms of our agreement.
Done. Your cabin mate shall be Jolting Joe Lieberman.
Jolting Joe? I accept, big time Cameron. And with my cabin mate, I require the services of a cabin boy. Or a cabin girl, it doesn't really matter at my age...
Is Reese Witherspoon acceptable?
She's more than adequate. Shall we sail Thursday?
Thursday? Ah, jeez, I've got a dinner with some AFI guys who want to talk 3D. Friday?
No, Friday is out. Got a vote on border security... How about Saturday?
Mmm... I think Lieberman has some sort of Sabbath thing going on... Sunday?
Sunday's okie dokie for me...

to be continued...

Part 2

And it may have been the ugliest as well. Gray and boxy, it looked more like a floating prison than a luxury getaway. Maybe it really was a haunted houseboat, but my suspicions led me elsewhere. This was not a cursed vehicle, no indeed, this was a giant prop, one that James Cameron would use in an attempt to drive me to madness. Well, it wasn't going to work, not against this old soldier. I didn't believe that he had found the lost tomb of Jesus, I didn't believe that he had deserved an Oscar for 'Titanic', and I didn't believe for a minute that he really owned a haunted houseboat, although I was a little worried about those ghosts.

Good morning, Senator. Are you ready for a little jaunt on my soon-to-be famous haunted houseboat, 'Le Cadavre Flottant'?
I should have guessed that you would give your boat a French name, Cameron. Well, I hope you brought your checkbook with you, because twenty-four hours from now I'm looking to be a little more plush.
But of course. And that's not all I've got for you. Reese, come on deck and meet our guest.
My mind reeled. Do you know the feeling where you realize that you are involved in something big, and then a new dimension opens up in front of you and you see that you're involved in something far more vast than anything you ever imagined? That was the feeling that settled on me that day...

And of course it's always nice to see Reese Witherspoon. In her left hand she held a Paramount release form, and in her right was a Bud Light. I took the beer first in an effort to seem disinterested, but I could only maintain that charade for a moment before I clutched at the document with fingers that seemed to be possessed .

So you're making a documentary, are you... 'Senator on a Haunted Ship'... Just what is all this brouhaha?
Brouhaha? There is no brouhaha here on the haunted houseboat, only time, twenty-four hours to be exact. My cameras will be filming every second of that time, recording your every move in digital 1080i HiDef!
That could be a little embarrassing if I freak out...

Indeed it would, and then the ten million in your campaign coffer would mean next to nothing. But if you can survive the twenty-four hours, the country will see the bravest man ever to run for the presidency. You'll be bigger than Al Gore.

He was right. A man who could stand resolute in the face of unspeakable horror is the sort of man America was looking for. And that man would be me. Still, there were questions.
How much is he paying you, Reese?
Twelve mil.
Twelve mil? What the hell is going on here, Cameron? Why is Reese Witherspoon getting paid more than me?
Chill out, dude. This is your first film. And what if you go nuts, and I have to re-edit the whole thing as a comedy?
John McCain will never go nuts. Now hand me a pen and show me the dotted line.
In that moment I had found my inner bravery, for what is bravery but the flip side of anger? A good question, and one that I would focus on at depth in the future, but for now, I had a haunted houseboat to conquer.
I'm all in, Cameron. When do we set sail?
In mere moments, McCain, but first we await the arrival of your cabin mate... Ah, here he is now.
Hi Jim. Hi John. Beautiful day for some sailing, isn't it? Hey Jim, I wanted to tell you something... I TiVoed your new documentary 'The Lost Tomb of Jesus' and thought that it was a real masterpiece..
Heavens, yes, it was a fine piece of thoughtful journalism that dared to look at a different future and shatter a lot of naive preconceptions.
And I appreciate the two of you appreciating it. Sometime it's difficult to approach the truth when it is such a deep part of the social fabric, and...
Stop it right now with your incessant chatter. That show was a piece of unmitigated garbage.
Now be nice, John. I for one found the film quite thought provoking.
Jeez Louise, Senator Lieberman, is your friend always this cranky?

to be continued...

Part 3

Got a minute, George?  I've got a little something here for you.
What is it, Dick? It looks all kind of flat and two dimensional, like some sort of an envelope or something.
What do you have, moron, bees for brains? It is an envelope, and inside you'll find my offer of resignation.
Well... Dick, the fact is, I never asked for your resignation, and I wouldn't accept it even if you decided to offer it to me. That's crazy talk, man, just crazy talk.
I am offering it. Black cloud over the White House and all that jazz. That's protocol, George, so that you can express your ongoing support of me in public. You can tell the press that I offered my resignation, but you wouldn't accept it because you have full confidence that I'm the right man to see this war against terror through to the finish. It makes you long strong, it makes me look gallant, it's a win-win.
All the same, I'm not interested in it.
But you've go to open it. Open it! I want you to open the goddam envelope right now before I lose my temper.
Okay, okay, if it's so dang important to you... I just don't see any point in... What? What's this? A party at the Cheney estate? This looks like part of some comic... Hey, you know, I used to read this one...

Hee hee hee, hee hee hee... Yeah, I just thought you might get a little kick out of this, cheer you up a little. I know how bad you feel about Scooter and his family.
Not all that bad, to tell you the truth... But what is John McCain doing in an issue of Weird Tales?
Heh heh heh... It's a Photoshop. You know, we've got quite the festivities going on this Sunday. Full bar, buffalo burgers with all the fixings... But best of all, we've got John McCain on a haunted houseboat!
No shit! Are you talking about James Cameron's infamous 'Le Cadavre Flottant'?
You've got it! You've got it! He's got to stay on that boat twenty-four hours in order to win a ten million dollar campaign donation, and we've got a live video feed set up. It's going to be pandemonium!
That's a funny idea, Dick. You got me giggling. There's only one problem. John McCain is not afraid of anything... Anything except for ghosts, that is.
Well, think about that for a moment, George. Anybody that's afraid of ghosts has no business in the White House. This place is full of ghosts. So I took the liberty of, uh, letting Cameron send his spectral investigation team over to borrow a few of them. Hell, we got four in the blue room alone.
They didn't take Lincoln, did they? I kinda like having that one around... Well, I guess as long as they bring them all back, it's for a good cause.

Right. Our entertainment.

Before we set sail, McCain and Joe, I'd like to introduce you to a couple members of my crew. First, this is a man that I call 'The News Zombie'. He'll be around whenever there's anything unpleasant to tell you about.
Hello, Joe. Hello, Senator McCain.
Hi, News Zombie, glad to meet you.
Uh... charmed.
As well you should be, Senator McCain, because the latest polls show you trailing Rudy Giuliani 28 to 23 in Alabama, of all places. Of course the national trend is much stronger, with Giuliani leading 44 to 20... On the endorsement front, Henry Kissinger is tossing you his support, a move which has your fellow conservatives...
That's enough frightening tales for now, News Zombie. We just want to give him a taste. Now, Gentlemen, I've arranged for you to have your very own steward to take care of your food and drink, as well as all of your personal needs. Meet the Yellow Bastard.
You underestimate my affinity for fear, Cameron. I've dealt with plenty of yellow bastards in the past.
Here, Senator, have some of these nice freshly harvested eyeballs.
Those aren't eyeballs, you creep. That's just a paper bag full of grapes.
Then why is the bag leaking blood?
Just one more creature I'd like for you to meet. This one is known as the Annshee. She pops up when you least expect it to frighten you with her horrible shriek.
Ahhhh-ooolllllllllllddddd. Oh-oh-ooolllllllllllddddd.
Rrrrrrrrrrrr. I don't like that one... Not that she scares me or anything.
She does have a rather unpleasant demeanor, John, but she's probably quite nice once you get to know her.
Is that all you've got, Cameron? I guess that ten million is as good as mine, because you haven't shown me anything that scares me one whit.
Oh. Ah, well, I tried. So... we've got about twenty minutes until launch if you have any last minute business to take care of. I've got to go down to the galley and unleash the ghosts.
Unleash the... Hey, Joe, I think I'm going to walk up the dock for a minute and pick up a couple packs of Camels.

to be continued...


Part 4

Hmmm... let me think.. what to write.... maybe something with Condi in it... and Sean Hannity, he's always good for a laugh...
Hey. Hey you.
They could be doing... Nancy Pelosi. That's it. And Syria. What if Bashar al-Assad dipped Pelosi into a giant vat of pickles, and then taped the whole thing up and put it on YouTube, and Sean showed the video...
Hey, Hoback. I'm talking to you, Bozo.
Oh. Senator McCain. I'm sorry. I didn't see you lurking around here.
Well, you'd better start paying attention. You've left me standing by myself on the frigging dock outside the haunted houseboat for nearly a month.
Sorry. Sorry. I guess I just kind of lost interest in you and your story. You know? I mean, back when you still looked like a front runner...
Stop messing with my reality.
And to be honest, how much humor can you ring out of James Cameron to begin with?
Haunted Houseboat. Haunted Houseboat.
I kind of feel like I blew the whole story right from the beginning when I insinuated that you were afraid of ghosts... So just how funny is it going to be for me to bring on the spooks at this point?
Haunted Houseboat. Haunted Houseboat.
Okay, Senator, okay, but don't say that I didn't warn you. And now for the exciting conclusion of The Haunted Houseboat.


And so we set sail on our one night cruise. It was an overcast but peaceful Sunday afternoon when we departed, and except for ghosts, I had nothing whatsoever to fear. Let James Cameron attempt his worst. Hollywood trickery would never get the best of me, not even now that we were in the midst of a titanic storm, on board the bridge of a haunted houseboat.

Sure, I could take the ice cold adrenaline surge of this terror tour without breaking a sweat, but what about Joe? I'm telling you - the man looked as white as an apparition.
Joe, you know that all of this is just special effects, don't you? Cameron has speakers and lighting rigs set up everywhere. This isn't really a storm, it's just some fancy pants Hollywood hydraulics.
It's reassuring to hear that, John, because this whole experience is so realistic that for a minute there I found myself getting a little seasick. I wonder how Cameron simulates the rocking of the waves. He must have...
John McCain, be now warned that gathering signs of doom approach upon this tempestuous night, a time which commemorates the fifth anniversary of your accursed McCain-Feingold legislation, a bill deemed so odious by members of your own party that they feel free to speak of it with open contempt to the likes of Sean Hannity. You, yourself, have seen fit to flee the tentacles which...
Be gone, News Zombie, be gone. Come on, get out of here will you?
In other news, John McCain, your MySpace page has been hacked and now celebrates the joys of hot lesbian sex. Furthermore, I couldn't help but notice that you only have 2800 MySpace friends, a mere pittance compared to someone as insignificant as Tila Tequila with her two million admirers. You may soon be...
I don't know about you, John, but I think I'm going to retire to our cabin and try to get some shuteye.

John McCain, in the fundraising department, the latest reports say that you have fallen far behind, and without a healthy new cash infusion, you will soon be...

Hold on Joe, I'm calling for the cabin boy.
You rang?
The cabin was small and damp, but at least it had a good solid bed. Joe suggested that it was big enough for us to share, and I suggested that he sleep out on the deck. He settled for a chair. Then, right at the stroke of midnight, there was a loud knock on the cabin door.
John, there's a ghost here to scare you.
Who the hell are you?
I am the ghost of Millard Fillmore. Booooooooo! Tremble in the presence of spirits such as I!
And why exactly should I be trembling?
For I am the ghost of Millard Fillmore. Booooooooo! Booooooooo! A ghost, I tell you.
And I am a man who sets at least a minimal standard on my fear threshold. Good night, sir.
All in all, thirteen ghosts would appear, each one less frightening than the previous. Frankly, I was almost relieved when I heard a rapping just before dawn and opened the door to see the News Zombie.
John McCain, people are laughing about your Baghdad stroll, calling you a delusional old man who has discarded every shred of credibility he once had, and has quickly become naught but an afterthought in the quest for the presidency. Indeed your fundraising effort have become the fodder of late night comedians who...
My campaign is going to be ten million dollars better off in a couple of hours, you cantankerous corpse.
In other news, John McCain showed incredible courage last night as he refused to cower in the presence of not one, not two, not three, not four...
Thirteen, dammit. Thirteen ghosts.
Thirteen ghosts. The senator looked as though he would surely pocket ten million big ones until he suddenly realized that his roommate had turned into a bloodsucking freak.
What the... oh, dear...
Stop it. Stop it right now with your ridiculous prattle, Hoback. That's not what happened in the slightest. Any fool can see that I'm still very much alive. Alive I tell you. Alive.

the end?


©2007, Mark Hoback