(GK: Garrison Keillor; SS: Sue Scott; TR: Tim Russell; TK: Tom Keith)
GK: It's January, it's cold, it's the time for regret and thinking back over the past and what we might have done differently. What were we thinking of? President Clinton, anything you regret, as you look back---- things you wish you'd done differently ----- people you met who you wish maybe you hadn't met?
TR (CLINTON): Well, I suppose----- sure--- some-----
GK: People, you think, "Gosh, if only she hadn't worked at the White House right then" ----
TR (CLINTON): Oh. Right. Her. Yeah.
GK: I read somewhere that somebody figured out that you and she saw each other for a grand total of eight hours.
TR (CLINTON): Well, that sounds about right.
GK: Eight hours and she's what people will remember about your presidency.
TR (CLINTON): You think so?
GK: I know so.
TR (CLINTON): (PAUSE) You mind making me a really stiff drink?
GK: If you had shaved your head and gone around to biker rallies in a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt, it would've been forgiven and forgotten, but that - that is going to be permanent, you know that.
TR (CLINTON): Depends on what you mean by "that" and "is"----
GK: Mr Former Vice-President? Anything you wish you could go back and change? Wish you'd campaigned harder in Tennessee?
TR (GORE): Well, of course, like any ordinary person, I may sometimes say things, that, in retrospect, I see had a patronizing inflexion that seems to have given people the idea that I, Al Gore, consider them to be dodos. I sometimes use semicolons when I talk; I wish that I did not.
GK: Senator Trent Lott--- any regrets?
TR (LOTT): No, none whatsoever. I was happy to serve and then when the President decided to shoot me in the kneecaps, I was okay with that. I just hope that my downfall won't make people reluctant to attend Strom Thurmond's birthday party next year and stand up and make a speech.
GK: So you're okay with what happened?
TR (LOTT): I've got lots of books to read. Like "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and so forth. I'll be fine.
GK: President Bush, anything you regret in the last couple of years?
TR (BUSH): Regret is a word we don't use much in Texas. Mainly we like to make other people regret things that they did. (CHUCKLE)
GK: You don't regret the big tax cuts that created these deficits that may get bigger if the defense budget climbs to a half-trillion dollars because no allies will help pay for the war?
TR (BUSH): If we need money for the defense budget, we'll send the Marines door to door to sell cookies.
GK: So you don't have regrets?
TR (BUSH): Never did. Don't aim to start now.
GK: And now you've got this new stimulus package that would triple the tax deduction for people who buy full-size S.U.V.s --- next thing you'll have a tax break for people with big feet who fart a lot.
TR (BUSH): S.U.V.s are part of homeland security. Anytime we need 100,000 people to go off-road in search of evil-doers, we just call em up on their cell phones--- and they're on it.
GK: You never think back to things you've said and wished you could say them differently---
TR (BUSH): Nope. Never.
GK: A speech you gave, you look at it, you think, "I could've said that better."
TR (BUSH): Nope.
GK: Well, you're a lucky man.
TR (BUSH): Yep.
GK: Well, the rest of us suffer regrets from time to time.
TR (BUSH): About what?
GK: Oh. Things.
TR (BUSH): Like what, for example?
GK: Different stuff.
TR (BUSH): Like name one. Name one thing you wish was different.
GK: Well, it's a whole series of things, actually.
TR (BUSH): Like what? No, sir. I don't look back. To me, that's backward thinking. Only thing I regret about the past is that there's so much of it. Hard to remember. I'm a futurist. I say, look forward.
GK: Maybe you're right. Maybe we should try to be more positive.
TR (BUSH): You do that. This tax cut eliminating double taxation of stock dividends is going to get this country moving again.
GK: I'm trying to believe that.
TR (BUSH): And S.U.V.s're going to keep the homeland secure against these evildoers.
TR (BUSH): It's the Think system of government. Think good things and good things will happen. I'm gonna go take my nap now.
GK: Thank you, Mr. President. (PLAYOFF)
© Garrison Keillor 2003