Line One
Downshift
Downshift

By Bill Hudgins
columnist

 

Awhile back, I wrote about an idea my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe had for a trucking TV reality show that he called “The Amazing American Idling Big Rig Race.” It never left the terminal – although judging by the mail Land Line Magazine received, it would’ve been a hit.

With many of the reality shows staging “celebrity” versions while the unreal political drama unfolds in Washington, DC, this election season, Rufus decided to create a celebrity politician version. It would star the top political figures of the day cast in roles familiar to any trucker.

Ripped from today’s headlines, as they say, part of the plot focuses on the plight of today’s struggling owner-operators, while another part unveils the not-so-savory doings at a once-reputable truck line named “Shipostate.”

Our current president, George W. Bush, stars as the retiring head of Shipostate, an independent company once run by George’s dad. They lost control of the company for a while in the ’90s, then got it back.

The fleet has foundered recently as expenses have risen uncontrollably while income has stagnated. Nevertheless, Bush and his COO, who would be played by Karl Rove, have been trying to engineer a takeover of Shipostate’s main rival on the east side of town – “I-Rack Transport.” They think I-Rack has a secret stash of really good trucks and trailers, which, if they can acquire them, will solve all Shipostate’s problems.

Bush would like to hand Shipostate off to grizzled road warrior John McCain, who has been with Shipostate longer than anyone else, and who hopes to be rewarded for his loyalty with the top job. But a short temper and tendency to follow the corporate line too closely has in the past blocked his rise, at least until now.

Meanwhile, two former executives at Shipostate who started as Arkansas chicken haulers are scheming to reclaim control of the fleet. Played by Hillary and Bill Clinton, this pair lost control of the company in a coop – sorry, coup – masterminded by Rove. Now back on the road as O-Os, they are determined to return to power.

There are problems, however. They need as much cash as possible, so they have to run all out. Bill, however, likes to hang around the drivers’ counter, eating cheeseburgers, hitting on waitresses and overanalyzing every aspect of trucking, so they are constantly running behind.

Hillary, on the other hand, simply tries too hard. The harder she tries to be folksy, the more she seems to be acting – badly. So Bill must step in and schmooze the shipper.

Barack and Michelle Obama play owner-operators leased to Shipostate who also dream of taking it over. Working diligently, they mount an unexpectedly strong run. Like Bill, he has a gift for schmoozing, and both suffer from foot-in-mouth. Also, Barack hasn’t been out on the road that much. Many of his fellow drivers think he’s snooty and has seen only the better days of trucking. What will he do when things get bumpy?

Rufus plans to portray some of the burdens truckers labor under, such as regulation and paperwork. This provides some dark humor. Dick Cheney plays a not-so-savory DOT inspector who is willing to help large, wealthy fleets, while coming down hard on little ones.

We first see him leaving a fancy restaurant, promising a portly guy in a fancy suit (played by Rush Limbaugh) that there will be no problems with this year’s inspections. He drives to a small owner-operator fleet to do a surprise inspection. The nervous owner offers his visitor some coffee before they start. “Just water,” Cheney replies with his trademark sneer. “Lots of water. Just lean back in your chair and I will pour,” he adds.

When Rufus asked what I thought about it, I shook my head. “Man, this is supposed to be a reality show. You can’t make up stuff like this.”

Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often. LL

Bill Hudgins can be reached at billhudgins@earthlink.net.

Aug/Sept Digital Edition