Anything’s Paws-i-ble Cat Sanctuary is a private shelter for stray and rescued cats in the tiny town of Soapville, Wyoming. About 100 cats wander around the drafty converted barn, tabbies and tuxedos and Persians and Maine Coons and on and on.
Ms. Gillooly is 51 and has been running the shelter for over fifteen years. She is plump as a pumpkin and her thinning blond hair is worn in a Mary Tyler Moore haircut from 1974. Her pink-framed bifocals are fastened to a shot bead chain around her neck, and rest on her pink Hello Kitty sweatshirt from 1989. The red bow on the female kitty head in the logo is so faded it looks like a head wound.
Ms. Gillooly is in her office—also overrun with cats—when DICK CHENEY, the former Vice President of the United States of America, enters. He idly brushes fresh cat hair off the lapels of his Brooks Brothers slate-gray suit. His crown of white hair is thinner, his skin is grayer, but all things considered he’s not looking too shabby for a guy who’s had five heart attacks and a heart transplant.
Ms. Gillooly squints suspiciously at the ex-Vice-President like she’s trying to sniff out a bomb.
DICK CHENEY: Good day, madam. I am very much enjoying my brief time at your establishment. And I find your sweatshirt tremendously amusing. “Hello Kitty,” that is a fine and lucrative brand. When we were in Tokyo trying to get the Japanese to squeeze the Chinese a little harder on Kim Jong-il, Lynne insisted we bring back a case of those shirts for the grandchildren.
MS. GILLOOLY: Not all that impressed with the name dropping, sir. I’m sure your friends are all very important. Napoleon is wayyy back in my family tree but you don’t see me invading Russia.
DICK CHENEY: I beg your pardon?
MS. GILLOOLY: Never mind. I have looked over your resume—
DC: You know, hemm… I realize that I left off my stints at Halliburton—
MS. G: I’m unfamiliar with that name. Is that another cat shelter?
DC: Are you serious, madam? It’s one of the largest oilfield service companies—
MS. G: I’m sure that’s very nice for you. I’m sure I can wish in one hand, Harburton stint in the other and we can both see which one fills up first. But what I would like to know is what your interest in cats is.
DC: I assure you madam, I am a serious person. I am very serious about loving cats.
MS. G: So you say, Mr. Cheney. But I am a tad concerned about your sportsman activities.
DC: In what way, madam?
MS. G: Well, Mr. Cheney, hunters are typically not the type of people who volunteer at animal shelters. Hunters kill animals, Mr. Cheney. We try to save them here. I’m not sure if you saw the sign walking in here. But it read “shelter,” not “animal shooting house.”
DC: Madam, if you don’t mind me saying so, you remind me an awful lot of Condi. Hemm… Condoleezza Rice?
MS. G: Was she the name of your cat?
DC: No, madam… she was the National Security Adviser and the—
MS. G (throws up both hands): Don’t need to hear it, sir. I’m sure she’s a lovely person. Did you shoot her in the face too?
Ms. Gillooly looks up, her eyes diamond cutting the ex-Vice President.
MS. G: Thought you could hide that little incident from me, did you?
DC: Madame… no. That was a well-known story, and it brought my poll numbers way down—not that I care, mind you. I have never cared a lick about polls. You see, madam, no matter what the polls say… sometimes a gathering danger must be directly confronted—
MS. G: Was danger gathering on your friend’s face, Mr. Cheney?
DC: You keep interrupting me, madam… that was an accident…
MS. G: Sir, there has been an awful lot of gum flapping in this office today, but very little about cats. This is a place for cats and I need volunteers. I don’t need Harburtons or face shooters, sir. And I don’t need any funny business. Do you follow me, Mr. Cheney? No funny business at all, or you can let the cat door hit you on the way out.
DC: Here, madam. Let me prove it to you.
DICK CHENEY scoops up a puffy black cat wandering by and nestles him in his lap. DICK CHENEY furiously pets the black cat, giving MS. GILLOOLY a cracked grin.
DC: See? Love me the felines.
(to cat; his voice raises about five octaves)
And what’s your name, my little black fellow? Such a wovely wittle boy…
MS. G: That’s Poe.
DC: Aww… little Poe-y Woe-y.
(to Ms. Gillooly)
When I was Gerald Ford’s Chief of Staff I had a black cat named Orion. Black cats are beautiful, mysterious creatures. I trained Orion to shit in Kissinger’s shoes. Heh.
MS. G: I’m sure that happened. What’s your stance on scooping out litter boxes, Mr. Cheney?
DC: I believe the cats will, in fact, greet me as a liberator. Of their turds.
MS. G: Okay, I’m just going to come out with it, Mr. Cheney. Let’s just drop our knickers and see where we are, shall we? My grandchildren are frightened of you. They’re six and four, and they have nightmares that you’re under their bed. They think you’re going to eat their hearts out.
DC (smiles crookedly): I only do that to Democrats, Ms. Gillooly—
MS. G: I told you I want no funny business, Mr. Cheney…
The black cat, Poe, bounds out of Dick Cheney’s lap and perches on the desk. The cat squats and licks one paw, keeping one eye on Dick Cheney.
MS. G: A lot of children come through here, Mr. Cheney. They don’t need some bogeyman ex-Vice President scaring the animal crackers out of them.
DC: Madam… I believe in time the children will come to see me as a jubilant clown, if you will. A non-Gacy clown. A firm, joyful, non-homicidal presence in this shelter. Hemm. And I promise you I will preserve, protect, and defend all the cats in this sanctuary.
MS. G: Well… I do believe in giving everyone a fair shake, no matter what their past. I will certainly be fair and square when I make my decision. I will be in touch, Mr. Cheney. On your way out, please tell the other gentleman that’s waiting to come in.
10 MINUTES LATER:
MS. G: I’m sorry, I seem to have misplaced your resume. Who are you again?
AL GORE: Ma’am, I am Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, and former crusader for the perils of climate change.
MS. G: What? Another ex-Vice President? Is this some funny business? This better be about cats…
AL GORE (unpacking a heavy box): Ma’am. If you give me a moment… I have a really wonderful, illuminating PowerPoint presentation on why I, Al Gore, will be a vocal proponent and dedicated cuddler of your cats.
MS. G: Let’s cut to the chase, Mr. Gore. What’s your stance on scooping out litter boxes?
AL GORE: No fucking way. Get Bush to do that.