You've seen "ER" and I've seen "ER," and I think we can both agree that if bipartisan health-care reform were a patient, Doctor Obama would be dejectedly dropping the paddles, ripping off his mask and asking Nurse Pelosi to call it.
Oh, yeah. It's finished. Done with. Kaput. Defunct. Deceased. Extinct. Artifacto. Fuggedaboutit. Game over, man. Part of the vast past tense. Washed up. Down the drain. Sleeping with the fishies. Sheer finito. Totally obliterated. See ya. Wouldn't want to be ya. Pushing up daisies. Eaten by the undertoad. Down Goes Frazier! Rests in peace. Bereft of life. Shuffled off its mortal coil. Crossed the distant shore. Run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible. Stick a fork in it. It's history. A memory. In the archives. Way gone. Say bye.
Then again ... you never know. Reconciliation. Such an innocent word.
With the deftness of Houdini, the president conjured up a seance where Democrats and Republicans sat down together and aired out differences like actual humans, and while the festivities conspicuously lacked any hand-holding choruses of "Kumbaya," the two sides did refrain from physically throttling each other, and nobody staggered out in full view of the cameras cradling a bloody stump. Which, for these guys, is a leap. They did, however, continue to lock out ordinary Americans by talking in a special Congressional code known as Politico-Speak. And I'm here to decipher.
What they say: We may have differences but they can be bridged.
What they mean: Of course, theoretically, so can the Pacific Ocean.
What they say: We need to start over from scratch.
What they mean: Let's start fixing it tomorrow. Or never. Whichever comes last.
What they say: It's obvious the other side is simply engaging in political posturing.
What they mean: Was my chin sufficiently lit well and thrust forward on that?
What they say: I just hope this isn't more political theater.
What they mean: Because satire closes on Saturday night.
What they say: Of course we're willing to compromise.
What they mean: Of course we're willing for them to agree with us.
What they say: At the end of the day a solution will be found.
What they mean: And that day is Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010.
What they say: We're determined to go the extra mile.
What they mean: Admittedly, we've haven't moved 15 inches, but we're pooped. Maybe we'll hold committee hearings on switching to the metric system.
What they say: If Dick Cheney had the same health care as the rest of us, those five heart attacks would have killed him by now.
What they mean: I wonder if doctors have totally ruled out phantom limb syndrome?
What they say: All we ask is that the other side negotiate in good faith.
What they mean: The city of Good Faith in Queensland, Australia.
What they say: We're the ones reaching across the aisle.
What they mean: Pay no attention to the chainsaw.
What he says: This is not partisan. I'm looking for answers from either party.
What he means: Although, as the smartest guy in the room, I already have most of them.
What they say: The United States has the Best Health Care System in the World
What they mean: The Insurance Oligarchy has the best funded lobbyists in the World.
What they say: This is a wonderful opportunity to watch government in action.
What they mean: Argh. My eyes!
Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who writes sometimes. This is an example. He who has performed around the world, and is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.