When Mitt Romney sat down for a chat yesterday at the Livermoore Inn with AP reporter Milford Newhamp, the last thing he expected was for his words to be heard, far far away, by intrepid president-in-waiting Fred Thompson.

"I think it will boost the ratings for Jay Leno's show, but I'd rather be doing well in New Hampshire," said Romney, his lips drawn back all prissy-like, hiding behind those college-boy good looks like he doesn't have a care in this world. "I guess the only comment I'd make to Fred Thompson would be: Why the hurry? Why not take a little longer to think this over?"

Then Mitt laughed and laughed, he laughed as though there would be no tomorrow, before delivering what he surely thought would be his coup de grāce. "From my standpoint, if he wants to wait until January or February, that would be ideal."

Oh, the merriment that rang through the Livermoore Inn at that moment, as Romney called for round upon round of iced tea and steaming scallops. Ring loud it did, until the laughter trailed off with a video call to Milford Newhamp's laptop, and the glaring face of Fred Dalton Thompson did stare with zeal for all to see.

"You mock me," purred the fleshy jowls of he who has the Jeri. "It is well you do, for without mockery, there can be no joy in my thrashing you like a red-headed stepchild. Methinks that Leno does not call for you, nor doth Newsweek put your legend forth as 'Thompson, Lazy Like a Fox'. Be gone, I tell you Mitterman, what's gone and what's past help should be past grief."

As the screen faded to black, Romney took a long slow look at his tea before summoning the waiter for a double vodka martini.

"He's everywhere," Mitt muttered. "I don't know if... Look, I'm late. I've got a gig flipping burgers at the Salem Republican Town Committee picnic in a half hour, and we're expecting well over a hundred people. You can tell Fred Thompson to chew on that."


©2007, Mark Hoback