The Wizard of 2001
March 17, 2001
by Art Bushwald
Finding themselves suddenly transported together back to
1901 by some mysterious time warp, L. Frank Baum and George
Orwell collaborate to write a novel. "We'll call it 'The Wizard
of Oz,'" says Baum. "No," says Orwell, "let's call it '1984'."
"How about 'The Wizard of 1984', then?" suggests Baum.
But then Baum suddenly makes a slight change in his proposal.
"Why don't we set set the scene just a little further into
the future, say, exactly 100 years from 1901?" Orwell thinks
about this, then says, "OK, what the heck." And so together
they begin their masterpiece, 'The Wizard of 2001".
In their novel, Dorothy and Toto suddenly find themselves
transported, against their will, to a strange land called
Oz. There, they meet up with Winston Smith, who tells them
that this land is even stranger than they had thought.
"The Land of Oz is ruled with an iron fist by Duhbya, Little
Jeb's Big Brother," says Winston, looking around his shoulder
to make sure he is not being heard. "In Oz, the winner is
the loser and the loser is the winner. Counting votes is 'undemocratic,'
and counting ALL votes is 'stealing an election.'"
"Good heavens!" cries Dorothy. "But that's not all," continues
Winston. "Dumb is smart and smart is dumb. Integrity is scandal
and scandal is integrity. Illegitimate is legitimate, and
bipartisanship is when one party dictates everything."
"Please tell me this isn't 'Wonderland,'" begs Dorothy. "Unfortunately,"
sighs Winston, "it's even worse. 'Family values' are being
fanatically promoted by families that are mostly dysfunctional.
'Compassionate' means executing the most people in the land's
history, and laughing about it. Bigots are hired to protect
civil rights, and environmental despoilers are now the 'stewards'
of our public lands. Oil must be pumped out of a pristine
wilderness 10 years from now so that we can solve an energy
crisis that's happening today. Trillions of dollars are being
doled out to the richest of the richest, while the neediest
get nothing. And the fuzzy mathematicians will tell you over
and over that 2+2=5, and after a while you'll start to believe
"Oh, please, sir, can you get us out of here?!" pleads the
bewildered girl as she holds Toto tightly in her arms. "Well,"
says Winston, "I have heard that there is a Wizard in the
land who has magical powers and can make people's dreams come
true. Maybe he can help you. They say he lives at the end
of this yellow brick road"
And so they set out on the yellow brick road to find the
Wizard. Along the way, they meet up with Mr. Hyde, a "compassionate"
tin-man who has no heart, but thinks he might want to see
what one is like because Duhbya is always talking about them.
"The Wizard can give you a heart!" cries Dorothy. So it is
agreed that Mr. Hyde can come too. A little while later, they
meet Dan Burton-Quail, a scarecrow-looking man who says it
might be kind of fun to find out what it's like to have a
brain. "The Wizard can give you a brain!" cries Dorothy. And
so Dan joins their band.
A little farther down the road, they encounter Dick Daschlehart,
a cowardly lion who wants the courage to stand up to Big Brother.
"The Wizard can give you courage!" cries Dorothy. And so Dick,
too, joins the little group on their journey to see the almighty
Our friends go some distance when they come upon a racetrack.
"And standing in the winner's circle," blares the public address
system, "is our own Wicked Witch of the South, Katherine Harris!"
the fans. "Why are those liberal pinkos booing the Wicked
Witch?!" shrieks Tin-man Hyde in disgust. "Big Brother ain't
gonna like this!" howls Scarecrow Dan. "And you can be darn
sure that I'm gonna be subpoenaing their bank records!"
Dick the Cowardly Lion just cowers as they move on. After
many miles and much more mouth-foaming by the tin-man and
the scarecrow, they reach a magnificent white castle. "The
Wizard's Palace!" exclaims Winston. "Let's go inside." At
first, they are stopped at the door by the Wizard's guards,
who are wearing sunglasses and dark business suits. But then
the guards recognize the tin-man and scarecrow as close friends
of Duhbya's, and let everyone in.
Inside the palace, the travelers come to an enormous hall
with multitudes of people bowing down on their hands and knees
in front of a huge, disembodied head -- the head of Duhbya
himself! Winston looks at the crowd of worshipers and notices
many familiar faces. "There's Will, and Safire, and Novak!"
he exclaims. "And over there are Brokaw and Rather and Jennings!
And over there on the far right are Limbaugh and Matthews
"Shut up, infidel!" scream the tin-man and scarecrow. "Do
you not know that you are in the sacred house of your lord
and master? On your knees!" Winston bows down, and so does
the cowardly lion. The only one left standing is Dorothy.
It is not long before the disembodied head of Duhbya notices
"Who dares to stand in the presence of the Almighty One?"
bellows the head. "Oh, please sir," entreats Dorothy. "I have
only come to ask you to help me get back home."
"Are you rich and powerful?" asks the menacing head.
"Are you affiliated with any big corporations, especially
oil companies or defense contractors?"
"No sir, I..."
"Then I can't help you. Be gone with you!" thunders the head.
Dorothy starts to cry. But Toto, mischievous little pooch
that he is, has scampered off to a curtained alcove in a dark
corner of the great hall. He draws the curtain back with his
teeth to expose an old, balding man furiously working a control
panel full of buttons, switches and levers. Dorothy and her
friends let out a collective gasp.
"It's Cheney, Big Brother's Number Two Man!" shriek the tin-man,
scarecrow and cowardly lion. "Pay no attention to the man
behind the curtain!", roars the head. But just then, Number
Two clutches the left side of his chest and falls to the ground.
Dorothy gasps again. "Oh, it's just another heart problem,"
says a bystander. "Some little valve thingy is acting up again.
He'll be good as new in no time."
But a strange thing starts happening to the head -- it begins
to babble incoherently. "The death penalty is unfair -- no
I mean the death TAX is unfair! I have never executed anyone
who was guil... I mean, innocent! Education is not my top
priority -- no, I mean it IS my top priority! Racial profiling
is illiterate kids! Is our children learning?..."
But the crowd of worshipers pay no attention. They just continue
to adore and admire the wizard.