NEWS item: Former governor of
Alaska Sarah Palin has denounced the health care plan of U.S. president Barack
Obama, alleging that it would allow bureaucrats on Canadian-style “Death
Panels” to decide which citizens were “productive” enough to deserve treatment.
Scene: A game show set, with three empty chairs placed in front of a huge image of a big-eyed child adrift and alone on an iceberg. An unseen, rowdy studio Audience can be heard whooping, applauding, etc. The AC/DC song Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap blasts through the studio. The Host charges onto the stage from the wings.
Host: Hey, ladeez and gentlemen -- are ya feelin’ all right? I sure hope not -- we chose you to make up the audience of our first-ever episode of Canada’s newest game show because you claimed to have chronic pain, disabilities and serious diseases. With a lot of complaining, you finally got here, so now it’s time for me to welcome you to … Death Panel!
[Audience applauds, whistles]
Host: I’m Ziggy Zorbon, “Grand Commander” of CTV’s Death Panel. I used to be short, I used to be ugly -- then I had work done. Would the Death Panel have approved my surgery, which I argue was brutally necessary, but some might consider merely cosmetic? That’s for the panel to know, and you to find out!
Ziggy: Here’s how Death Panel works. Our show was inspired by former Alaskan guv Sarah Palin. As she famously wrote on Facebook, “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
[Audience makes “Ooo, we’re scared” noises]
Ziggy: Downright evil?! Folks, as far as we’re concerned, “downright evil” equals must-see TV! For Death Panel the game show, our on-air patient contestants are either treated pronto, or left to die a slow, grisly death on a Canadian iceberg -- simply on the basis of whether they charm our Death Panelists. We’ve randomly selected one of you unhealthy losers [Audience hoots] to be today’s contestant, and we’ve chosen panelists with little information, medical expertise, or empathy for others, but opinions galore! [Audience claps]
Ziggy: Now let me introduce our panelists. First up, Barbara Amiel, longtime columnist for Maclean’s magazine. [Barbara teeters onto the stage in designer mules and a tiny suit made of baby seal skins, waving. There are several wolf whistles] Audience, ask yourselves: Are you poorly educated -- or simply poor -- with some sort of physically distorting illness? Good luck winning medical treatments from this millionaire fashion plate! She’s Donald Trump with good hair! Welcome, Babs!
Barbara: Lovely to be here, Ziggy.
Ziggy: Panelist number two is well known to Canadians as our former Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson. A one-time journalist and perpetual know-it-all, Her Excellency has no use for whiners. But I’ll tell you what -- she’s totally up on the ballet! Howdy, Adrienne!
Adrienne: [Sourly] Bonjour.
Ziggy: Number three is -- who else? -- Don Cherry! Now, Don’s a guy who would’ve been put out of his misery long ago just for having the sniffles -- if he’d been a Death Panel contestant. But, ladeez and germs, watch out -- he’s a panelist and he’s got strong feeeeee-lings! See if you can figure out what they are, when we come back after these messages to… Death Panel!
[Audience applauds. There’s a two-minute pause, then the theme music begins again]
Ziggy: Welcome back to Death Panel, the Canadian game show that doesn’t just ape reality -- you literally get to fight for your life! Our very first contestant is Marjory McTavish, a stay-at-home mom from Antigonish, Nova Scotia. [Marjory, a dowdy-looking woman of about 60, lumbers slowly and painfully across the stage] Now, audience, you can ask along with me here [Audience chimes in] “Marjory, what’s your problem?!”
Marjory: [With forced good cheer] I’ve got the diabetes, Ziggy! Soon I’m gonna need dialysis, three times a week for four hours a time! Udderwise, it’s curtains! No more Marj’ry!
Ziggy: [Insincerely] Awwww! And why should Death Panel provide you with the “requisite” blood-cleaning, Marjory?
Marjory: [Grinning gamely] I’m a good Cat’lic, active in my church, and a
mother of 12, three of ’em foster kids, Ziggy! I’ve got a fine voice and I sing
in two choirs. And I bake sweets daily for the old folks in assisted livin’
Barbara: [Bluntly, in a disgusted tone] Marjory, what in God’s name are you wearing?
Marjory: [Startled] Beg yer pardon?
Barbara: Is that remedial footwear?
Marjory: As a matter of fact, yes. The diabetes can lead to…
Adrienne: [Interrupts] Yes, yes, we all know that. Does your priest serve Canadian wines at communion, Marjory?
Marjory: [Surprised] I’ve no idea -- it’s the blood of Christ, as far as we’re concerned. Jesus wasn’t a Canadian, was he?
Don: Ah, Marjory, I can see you’re a fighter, and I like fighters….
Barbara: [Sharply] Shut up, Don. Ziggy, there’s no need to waste any more time on this.
Ziggy: Well then, panelists? What’s your verdict?
Barbara: Marjory, get thee to an iceberg. [Marjory gasps]
Adrienne: I’m afraid I’m not impressed either, Ziggy. Off with her head! [Adrienne uncorks a bottle of Okanagan ice wine and offers a glass of it to Barbara, who looks quizzical. Don seizes the bottle and splashes it into his coffee mug. Adrienne slaps him]
Don: I like your style, Marjory. But heck, I’m outnumbered! Sorry, kid. See you on the other side….
[Ziggy uses an oversized handkerchief to wipe fake tears from his face. He hands the stunned-looking Marjory an I Lost at Death Panel T-shirt as two Inuit people in parkas lead her away]
Ziggy: And that’s our show, folks! Apply to sit in our studio audience and you can have us decide your fate in 15 gut-churning prime time minutes! Arrivederci and remember -- be proactive in your wellness!
[Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap surges into the room as the credits roll over video of Marjory climbing sadly into the gleaming white Death Panel Hummer]