Bill of Rights Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 375, July 9, 2006

"This insane and petty Prohibitionism"

The Founding Fathers Order Cheesesteaks
by Jonathan David Morris

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise


THOMAS JEFFERSON: Hey, Madison. Check it out. Only one more guy ahead of us, and we will finally be able to sink our wooden teeth into genuine Philadelphia cheesesteaks.

JAMES MADISON: Sweet. I hope these things are all they're cracked up to be.

BEN FRANKLIN: Oh, they are, they are. Trust me, gentlemen. You won't be sorry you waited four hours and a couple of hundred years for them. As I always say, 'Cheesesteaks are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.'"


FRANKLIN: Oh, crap. Okay, Madison, that's you. Now, remember what we talked about in the car on the way over. They're very particular about how you order your food around here. If you want a cheesesteak with onions, you have to order a "cheese, wit"—otherwise they won't serve you.

MADISON: Please. I wrote the freaking United States Constitution, Ben. You think I can't order a cheesesteak? Watch me.

VENTO: Next, I said!

MADISON: [Steps up to the ordering window.] Yes, hi. I'm James Madison, and I would like to order one cheesesteak with onions, please.

VENTO: Next!

MADISON: Perhaps I should try that again. My name is President James Madison, and I—

VENTO: Next!

[Madison steps to the side in a state of apparent dejection.]

FRANKLIN: I'm telling you, Jefferson. Learn from Madison's mistakes. Don't get creative.

JEFFERSON: Don't worry. I got it. [Steps up to the ordering window.] Gimme a cheese, wit, please.

VENTO: Hey listen, pal. You and your alien buddy over there want cheesesteaks? Read the goddam sign.

JEFFERSON: [Reads the goddam sign posted on the window.] "This is America. When ordering, speak English." Well, I don't understand. I—

VENTO: Next!


VENTO: Next!

[Now Jefferson joins Madison in a state of apparent dejection off to the side.]

FRANKLIN: [Steps up to the ordering window.] Good tidings, sir.

VENTO: For God's sake, this is the third one in a row already. Can't you aliens read? No habla Espanish. This is America. Speak English. Next!

FRANKLIN: But, sir, my friends and I are speaking English.

VENTO: Well, it's no kind of English I'm familiar with.

FRANKLIN: But you just understood every word that I said.

VENTO: No, I didn't.

FRANKLIN: See? You did it again!

VENTO: Look, I don't know what the hell you're talking about, pal. Next!

[Franklin steps away.]

UNNAMED SPANISH-SPEAKING CUSTOMER NO. 1: Un filete del queso con las cebollas, por favor.

VENTO: Coming right up.

JEFFERSON: Hey, now, wait a minute. That guy wasn't speaking English whatsoever.

MADISON: Worse yet, he seems to have written his single line of dialogue using the English-to-Spanish feature on Alta Vista's Babel Fish language translator.

FRANKLIN: Come on, guys. We don't need to put up with this. Philly's a big city. Let's go run up the Art Museum steps like Rocky or something.

JEFFERSON: Speak for yourself, Ben. I've not yet begun to fight. Excuse me. . . Mr. Vento?

[Just then a big cloud of smoke appears. As it dissipates, a man in a button-down shirt is revealed.]


GEORGE W. BUSH: That's right. It worked so well in Iraq, I thought I'd make a surprise visit to the corner of 9th and Passyunk in Philly. [Taps the counter at the ordering window.] You're doing an outstanding job, General Geno.

VENTO: Vento.

BUSH: Whatever. Gimme a Whiz, wit.

[Just then a second cloud of smoke appears across the street in front of Geno's hated rival, Pat's King of Steaks. As the smoke clears, another shadowy figure reveals himself.]


JOHN F. KERRY: That's right. It's me. John F. Kerry. Gimme a Swiss, wit!

MADISON: Good Christ. Presidents and would-be presidents appearing out of thin air? What kind of country is this?

KERRY: I'll tell you what kind of country this is. This is a Pat's King of Steaks kind of country. Give us your tired, your poor, or that other thing it says on the Statue of Liberty. We don't care what language they speak or what color they come from. America serves one and serves all. And I served in the army. That's the kind of country America is. A free healthcare and candy kind of country. Am I right or am I right, people?

[The crowd outside Pat's comes to its feet and cheers.]

BUSH: My opponent wants to divide this street corner by uniting this street corner in the belief that Geno's is dividing this street corner. Today is July 4th. A lot of good men died for today to be July 4th. My opponent wants division by subtraction to rule this country. But it's fuzzy math. Four plus four equals eight. And every man is created equal. If you're not with Geno's Steaks, you're against Geno's Steaks. And if you're against Geno's Steaks. . . well, then I guess this means war.

[Now all of Geno's patrons cheer and shake their fists, too.]

JEFFERSON: People, please! Take a good look at yourselves. A war over cheesesteaks? It doesn't make sense!

MADISON: This never would have happened when we were alive.

FRANKLIN: Unfortunately, I think you two are missing the point.

[A hush comes over both angry crowds.]

FRANKLIN: Don't you see? Nothing Bush and Kerry are saying makes any sense whatsoever. They might as well be pulling random translations off of Alta Vista's Babel Fish—

BUSH: Posso parlare Spagnolo perfetto.

UNNAMED RUSSIAN CUSTOMER NO. 1: That's Italian for "I can speak perfect Spanish"!

FRANKLIN: My point exactly. It doesn't matter what these men say. They could be speaking in baby sounds and people here would still understand them. Yet look at us. We founded this country, and we can't even order a cheesesteak because nobody here understands us and everyone treats us like aliens. It doesn't matter what language people speak. What matters is what they're saying, and whether their words are consistent with life and liberty. Would it be preferable if everyone spoke from the same dictionary? Yes. But actions speak louder than words sometimes. And that's all these modern political leaders are doing: Acting. If that's the only kind of leadership a society understands, then their language doesn't really matter at that point. Because whatever their backgrounds, they've already been reduced under the universal language of lies.

KERRY: I'm sorry. Did anyone understand a word of what he just said?

BUSH: Got me.

VENTO: Sorta confused over here, too.

FRANKLIN: Well, I guess you were right, Jefferson. The people of Earth weren't ready for us after all.

JEFFERSON: You gave it a shot, Ben. Let's get out of here before they kill us. Vikdlk sdlwnjyra qwaqqqhba.

MADISON: Vikdlk sdlwnjyra qwaqqqhba, indeed. See you folks again in another 230 years.

[The Founding Fathers turn into three swarms of glowing outer space beetles, and disappear without cheesesteaks into the sky.]

Jonathan David Morris writes from Philadelphia. He can be reached at


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