Russia, Russia, Russia. You hear the name of that country so much on TV it’s almost like the other Brady Bunch kids saying, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. It’s always about Marsha.” (There’s even a Snickers candy bar commercial built around that theme. But I wouldn’t expect the candy company to do one about Russia.) Some in the media keep trying and trying to find a link between the Trump campaign and the Russkies. Others swear there just had to have been something approaching hi-jinks with Clinton, Inc. and the Kremlin. So far, of course, nothing has been proven, but speculation continues to run rampant. Especially in Washington and New York. I’m pretty sure the flyover country that includes most of the U.S. would just as soon move on to more important things (such as, “And just how much more am I going to have to pay for healthcare next year?”) and college football rankings.


Our former #1 Cold War enemy has to be enjoying the weekly verbal volleys being lobbed back and forth on this side of the pond by those who think they know best. Don’t you just suppose the good ol’ boys (and perhaps a few good ol’ girls too) in Moscow are hoisting a glass (or two or twelve) of vodka in celebration of every brouhaha that comes up about Russian influence on everything from precious metals to candidates for high office in the U.S. last year? Including the latest scenario involving the arrest of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort this week. The main charge against him seems to basically boil down to tax evasion, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from running wild.


I can just see Putin and his henchmen Boris and Igor sitting around a table laden with borscht, black bread, and beluga caviar, alternating shots of Stoli, and telling tall tales. (Well, possibly tall tales. Could be the tales aren’t so tall. Only time will tell.)


PUTIN: So which one of you was in charge of Manafort?


BORIS: That would be me, Comrade.


PUTIN: Good move going through Ukraine to launder money. No one knows what’s going on there anyway. We can get by with murder.


IGOR: And already have, I believe, Mein Fuhrer, er, I mean Comrade.


PUTIN: Ha-ha. Always the joker, Igor. This is all working out as we planned. Americans are blaming us for everything. They have no idea what we did and didn’t do. Is perfect.


BORIS: I’m not even sure what we actually made happen anymore.


PUTIN: Good. Plausible deniability. I like saying, “Nyet” with straight face at UN.


BORIS: So what do we do about woman?


PUTIN: Who, Hillary? I am not worried. American press loves her. She’s not a problem. Oh, we do need to send back her “Reset” button. As gesture of goodwill.


IGOR: What about husband?


PUTIN: Who cares? He is nothing anymore. We got uranium and don’t have to listen to any more of his speeches, let alone pay for them.


BORIS: Donald Trump is still calling us names.


PUTIN: Again, no worries. Factory in Minsk is already printing up “Dump Trump” signs and buttons for 2020 election.


IGOR: What about computers and polling places?


PUTIN: If Americans think we were smart enough to hack into 175,000 voting precincts, that is good thing. We have trouble counting our own ballots, let alone theirs.


BORIS: But we can do some things, right? Like Equifax?


PUTIN: I will neither confirm nor deny any action one or more brilliant young Russian computer genius might have taken in that regard. Is much better to be suspected than admit guilt or claim total innocence. By the way, your credit score went up 20 points yesterday, Boris.


BORIS: Why, thank you, Comrade. But how did . . .


PUTIN: I will neither confirm nor deny . . .


IGOR: Wouldn’t it make us look stronger to our “friends” in Europe and Asia if we let them know how good we are?


PUTIN: All in good time, Igor. Better to be low-key. Stick with Facebook, Twitter and Google for now. Nobody suspected our involvement in Cubs winning World Series last year, did they?


BORIS: Stroke of genius.


PUTIN: Just wait ’til next year when Cleveland Browns win Super Bowl.


IGOR: Should we call bookie in New York now?


PUTIN: Nyet. Too soon. Let them lose few more games first. Then we place bet. But first, tell New York Times reporter you have hot tip. I guarantee front-page news tomorrow. Zazdarovie!


©MMXVII. William J. Lewis, III