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A Guide to Getting Tickets to the Inauguration
by Mad Dog


The truth is, you donít need an invitation to attend all the inaugural events. For some of them all you need is a copy of a canceled check proving you made a $550,000 donation to the Republican campaign. 
Iíve been running home and checking my mail twice a day lately. Not because Iím expecting some straggling Christmas cards which the post office has been using to keep a sorting table in Topeka, Kansas level since 1978, but rather because I hope my personal invitation to the January 20th presidential inauguration will finally arrive. So far, no dice on either count.

   Thereís no question this would be a high point in my life. After all, itís an opportunity to see the swearing-in of the President of the United States of America, a sight we may not see again until the next time he has to give a deposition, testify before Congress with Dick Cheney overdubbing his voice, or discuss Michael Moore. Oh sorry, thatís not swearing in, itís swearing at.

   The truth is, you donít need an invitation to attend all the inaugural events. For some of them all you need is a copy of a canceled check proving you made a $550,000 donation to the Republican campaign. This is especially effective if youíre from Saudi Arabia. Just kidding. Actually money orders, cash, and wire transfers are just as effective.

   Hereís how the festivity break-down goes: Thereís the inauguration itself, which is when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stands in front of a huge crowd of on-lookers who couldnít tell you his name if their death sentence depended on it and he checks to see if the President knows his right hand from his left by telling him to pat his head while rubbing his stomach. Just kidding again. Actually he has him raise his right hand while placing his left hand on a Bible, asking if he, George W. Bush, takes her, Laura Bush, to be his lawful wedded bride, yet another reason we shouldnít allow Supreme Court Justices to be older than Methuselah.


Most distribute the tickets on a first-come, large kick-back basis, which is why nearly everyone watching the ceremony will be either a defense contractor, the chairman of the board of a river-polluting factory, executive of Halliburton, or a close relative who oddly enough happens to work in the Congressmanís office.
   Following the swearing-in is the parade, a 2Ĺ-hour extravaganza during which bands from all across America are honored by being allowed to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in sub-freezing weather while trying to figure out how in the hell theyíll ever get their instruments unfrozen from their lips without pulling off all their skin. Last, but certainly not the least expensive, are the nightís nine official inaugural balls and 18 unofficial balls and celebrity-studded galas, which for your information isnít a term Iím making up because I like to say ďcelebrity-studded,Ē but is actually the best our presidentís high-powered and highly paid staff of advisors and speech writers could come up with.

   Getting tickets to these events is like trying to get a straight answer from the I.R.S., an organization which (True Fact!) is ecstatic that they managed to answer a whopping 66% of the phone calls that came into their help lines last year. But if youíre determined and absolutely convinced that this is worth taking a personal day off from work, hereís how you go about getting them.

   First thereís the ceremony itself. Standing-room tickets for the swearing-in are free with the purchase of a large Big Mac flavored Slurpee in the special edition Inaugural Cup, available for a limited time only at Washington, D.C. area 7-11s. Actually, the tickets are yours for the asking from your local neighborhood member of Congress, each of whom gets a pile of them (197 per Representative and 400 per Senator) to give out as they see fit. Some hand them out to people who helped on their re-election campaign. Others give them away to the 14th caller. Most, however, distribute the tickets on a first-come, large kick-back basis, which is why nearly everyone watching the ceremony will be either a defense contractor, the chairman of the board of a river-polluting factory, executive of Halliburton, or a close relative who oddly enough happens to work in the Congressmanís office.


Unlike most everything else involved with the inauguration, the parade is free. Unless, of course, you want to be able to see it.
   If youíre one of those lucky 250,000 people, make sure you get there early. As a warm-up to the swearing in, Guy Hovis, a former singer on the Lawrence Welk Show and the director of Trent Lott's Mississippi senate office, will perform Let the Eagle Soar. In case you were too busy being arrested and held without being allowed to contact your lawyer to notice, this is the song written by outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft that he sang in a video which became one of the most forwarded Internet jokes, not to mention a high point of the soundtrack of Fahrenheit 9/11, though oddly it wasnít included on the album. Go figure.

   Unlike most everything else involved with the inauguration, the parade is free. Unless, of course, you want to be able to see it. Bleacher seats, which cost up to $125, were sold out weeks ago. Most of those 45,000 tickets were held for ó you guessed it ó invitation-only reservations available through your favorite local Congressman. There are, as of this writing, a number of perches left on the lower branches of three cherry trees about a half block away but youíd better hurry because I donít think theyíre going to last long.

   Then there are the inaugural balls, which are mostly black-tie affairs that cost between $395 and $1,495, depending on the event, your political clout, and whether Jenna and Barbara think youíre hot. But even if youíre willing to fork over the money youíre going to have a hard time finding a ticket. Although there are hundreds of thousands of tickets to these events, theyíre pretty much offered to FOBs ó Friends of Bush ó which is pretty much defined as anyone who raised more money for the re-election campaign than you or I will earn in the next 10 years. Okay, the rest of our lives.

   The truth is, I donít expect to get an invitation to one of these balls in the mail any more than I believe in Santa Claus. Of course considering a poll by U.S. News and World Report a few years ago uncovered the fact that 9% of adults said they still believe in Santa Claus, maybe thereís hope yet. Just to be safe Iím taking my tux to the cleaners.

©2005 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read them while waiting for Bush to say "I do."

 

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