I’m Rosalyn Artemisia, and welcome back to the presidential debates. We’ve heard opening remarks from both candidates, now our first audience-submitted question is for Mr. Watterson. What is your stance toward mining the moon?
Jim Watterson: If elected, I would not advocate any commercial endeavors on the Moon. Partly this is practical: Going to the Moon is expensive and mining it is unlikely to give the taxpayers an adequate investment on their money. We planted a flag there, and there isn’t much to gain from going back. But mostly my reasons are environmental. The Moon is one of the few places that humans haven’t sullied, and I’d prefer for it to remain unpolluted.
Outer space is the last place that we haven’t exploited, and even that is full of cast-off pieces of machinery, space junk that’s still floating around because we couldn’t be bothered to clean up after ourselves. We shouldn’t go to the moon if we’re going to do to it what we’re doing to Earth.
I believe in the quality of our environment as a terminal value. It’s important in itself, not just because it’s useful to us. Having a clean and pure and natural environment is a good thing. Some people may say that the worlds around us are only important to the extent that it’s useful, but I say that that’s the kind of thinking that’s damaging this world. We don’t need to spread that to another.
RA: Mr. Thomas, rebuttal?
John Thomas: Well, the first thing I need to point out is that halfway through your speech you ran into the argument vortex. According to The Rules, you’re obligated to keep talking in circles until you exit the vortex, unless you haven’t started yet. And I’m declaring my podium to be the True Patriotism Zone, in case you were wondering why I’m taking off my flag pin and waving it. I’ll also throw this Calvinball at you so that for the remainder of the debate you have to speak in limericks in front of the entire American voting public.
Huh. The ball bouncing off you sounded like scientific progress. I guess we should go to the moon after all.
New Rule! Anyone who stares dumbfounded for more than five seconds loses a point! And I touched the ex facto post, so it’s retroactive! HA!
Until one of us finds the missing second goal wicket, the laws of mathematics are going to be a bit unstable. The score is fluctuating wildly, but it looks like it’s about a quarter to pineapple. Speaking of quarters, I have to disagree about the price tag on going to the moon. I can imagine an America where any six-year-old can hold an interplanetary launch in his backyard. In fact, I brought a prototype with me, as required by the Vehicular Committee during the Third Bucharest Convention on Calvinball. And I will now use it to ride across the stage, thereby proving your entire campaign invalid and earning the right to ring the bell.
Yes, I know my spaceship looks like a wagon. That’s because it is, and it just happens to also be capable of interplanetary flight. Geez!
JW: Well, budgetary projections for last year’s proposal of an ESA mission to Mars say that interplanetary travel would cost billions of dollars and require teams of highly trained rocket scientists. The average six-year-old is still scared of trigonometry and definitely can’t fly a rocket to Mars. Which is why we need to adopt my innovative plan for reforming education from kindergarten on up, so that in a mere few decades we will be prepared for this kind of scientific and technological project.
RA: Mr. Thomas, do you have a response? And I’m going to have to ask you to stop cartwheeling; there’s a rule against that.
JT: OK, but I’m making a rule that any rule banning something currently being done automatically involves a grandfather clause. And since the ex facto post is still in effect, I get to turn one more cartwheel. Anyway, about what he said. The tigers help with the math, duh. And that thing he said wasn’t a limerick. I get a free hit!
JW: No, I’m not going to let him hit me. This isn’t Calvinball. We’re not even wearing masks!
JT: We’re politicians. Professional mask-wearers. Don’t question it. And you can do penalty push-ups instead…
Epilogue. John Thomas was escorted out by security, pilloried by the media, shunned politically, and reelected.