Loss in Powers 

The backlash keeps coming for FirstEnergy. Sounds like a job for Dr. Evil and the Utterly Unbiased Task Force.

Dr. Evil: Welcome to my underground lair. This is the second meeting of the Utterly Unbiased Task Force, sponsored by FirstEnergy. I am your chairman, Dr. Evil. The task before this, er, force is to determine the true cause of the August 14 blackout. Much love to FirstEnergy for the diamond-encrusted, 60-foot-long meeting table and the ergonomically pleasing chairs. The lair has never been so cozy. Pity the electricity went out again, but I quite like doing this by candlelight. Feels more sinister. Before we begin, let's have our secretary, Mr. Smithers, read us the minutes from our last meeting.

Smithers: Dr. Evil, you began the meeting by announcing that FirstEnergy would pay each of us one billion dollars for sitting on this task force, which will be covered by consumers charged 42 percent above the national average for their electricity. We all cackled maniacally for eight minutes. Then we adjourned to watch The OC.

Dr. Evil: Sounds about right. Now, O.J. Simpson, you are the task force's lead investigator. Your tireless efforts to track down your wife's real murderer have been well chronicled, and we expect that you will get to the bottom of this. Throw us a frickin' bone, would you?

O.J.: I have reviewed the government's report, in which FirstEnergy is given sole responsibility for causing the largest blackout in American history. This report is, at best, a stab in the dark [fiendish snickering]. The massive power outage was caused by consumer activists. If FirstEnergy didn't have to spend so much money on lawsuits and political payoffs, there would be plenty of money to shore up the region's transmission system. Having a monopoly is all well and good, but free speech creates an environment that is simply too hostile for corporations to operate efficiently.

Dr. Evil: Splendid work, Juice. But I sense some misgivings from our watchdog, Rob Tongren. Bob? Care to share?

Tongren: I'm here on behalf of Ohio consumers to guard against corporate malfeasance. Let me begin by saying that the people of Ohio have a constitutional right to speak out against public corruption. Second, there's a matter of accountability. FirstEnergy is being paid handsomely. The least our citizens deserve is an honest explanation as to why they -- and millions of others across the Northeast -- lost their power on that sweltering August afternoon.

Dr. Evil: He's the Diet Coke of evil. Somebody give him some sugar. Where's FirstEnergy Chairman H. Peter Burgh? Well, crack open the checkbook, old boy! Bob needs his fix. That's good. Peter, you're so generous, it's evil. Bob, sorry to interrupt. You were saying?

Tongren [Putting check in pocket]: I was saying that FirstEnergy is a responsible corporate citizen, just doing its part to provide reliable service to Ohio despite excessive, draconian regulation.

H. Peter Burgh: Exxxxxcellent.

Dr. Evil: Riiiiiiight. And speaking of government, Senator George Voinovich, where are you?

H. Peter Burgh: Voinovich, eh? By jove, he's right here in my pocket.

Dr. Evil: Take him out for a moment. We need the government's perspective.

Voinovich: I concur with Mr. Tongren. Tax-and-spend liberals have hounded FirstEnergy for too long. I will use the power of my office to vigorously defend FirstEnergy's reputation -- at least until its checks start bouncing. No, seriously, this company is a state treasure. I can't imagine a world where my friend, Bob Taft, can't hop on FirstEnergy's jet to cruise to campaign stops across the state. And without FirstEnergy funds, I would have to resort to a grass-roots campaign. Yuck. That means knocking on doors, learning the issues, that short of shit . . . Hello?

Dr. Evil: Enough! He's boring me. Back into the pocket with him. Now we all know that FirstEnergy had nothing to do with the blackout. But these reports from the federal government keep saying FirstEnergy this, FirstEnergy that. What can we do about it? O.J. -- put your knife away. This is not the time.

Tongren: I could hold a press conference absolving FirstEnergy of blame.

Dr. Evil: No, you're too expensive. Can we pay you in FirstEnergy stock?

Tongren: Yeah, good one, Evil. Seriously, I have enough toilet paper, fuck you very much.

Dr. Evil: No need to get nasty. What we need here is someone who can claim FirstEnergy is blameless while keeping a straight face. You, at the end of the table. Refresh my memory. Are you Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the former Iraqi Minister of Information?

Saeed al-Sahaf: The infidel Americans are committing suicide by the hundreds at the gates of Baghdad. Be assured Iraq is safe, protected.

Dr. Evil: Riiiiiight. Let's stay on topic, Baghdad Bob. But I like where you're going with that.

Saeed al-Sahaf: FirstEnergy does not lie. It is a corporation of great honor and integrity. We are not afraid of critics. Allah has condemned them. They are stupid. And condemned.

H. Peter Burgh: Exxxxcellent.

Dr. Evil: Yes, that will do nicely. But we need a backup plan, and I have one that is deliciously evil. I'll give you a hint: FirstEnergy owns several nuclear power plants. When meltdowns happen, people die. Critics die . . . Come on, people! Think evil!


Dr. Evil: Oh hell, if they keep bugging us, we'll just nuke the whole frickin' country. Objections? Good. Who wants a Hot Pocket?

More by Thomas Francis


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