May Day

"Good morning, Mr. General Secretary. We are glad you could attend our meeting." "Nyet! A modern Russia demands new titles for its post-revolutionary leaders. We must trust capitalism to lead us. Please address me the way authority figures are spoken to on successful American television programs."

"You want us to call you 'The Skipper'?"

"Da. And I will refer to you as 'Little Buddy.'"

"Very well. Our first order of business is to commend Comrade Stanislavski - I mean, The Professor - for the clever way in which he has re-financed our Russian space program."

"Yes, indeed! Selling passenger tickets to American millionaires was a stroke of genius. Congratulations, Constantin. We have recommended you for the Order of Lenin and Marx, soon to be known as the Order of Greenspan and Gates."

"Thank you, Mr. Gener - I mean, Skipper. We are hoping to send some food up there as soon as his check clears."

"Excellent. Ask him if he'd like to take along a few of his wealthy friends next time. And remind him that we also rent missiles."

"Speaking of which, we have just learned that the Americans plan to build a new, state-of-the-art weapons-defense system. What some call a 'Star Wars' shield."

"A-ha! Has this information been uncovered by our secret network of spies and intelligence-gathering satellites?"

"Actually, it was in all the newspapers. But this new Cold War is going to cost everybody a lot of money."

"Any idea how we can raise a few rubles?"

"Well, if these vain and decadent millionaires are so loaded with cash, perhaps they'd like to see their pictures on a few rubles ... ."

"They would spend a lot for this privilege?"

"Through the samovar. In America, they pay just to have funny phrases on their license plates."

"Amazing! What else?"

"Perhaps rich Americans would find it amusing to have their limousines driven by real live KGB agents. And how about this: 'Make special occasions extra special when you hold your next birthday party, wedding reception, or bar mitzvah right in the Kremlin!'"

"Excellent idea. God knows we have the space."

"Precisely. I also have something about square dancing in Red Square, and a new winter tourist campaign called, 'Ski Siberia'!

"All good suggestions. This capitalism thing has real potential."

"I have saved the best for last. It is now accepted that American corporations will pay ridiculous sums to put their names on almost anything. So why not get them to advertise in Russia? For the right price - say, a billion dollars - Moscow becomes 'Bank One City.'"

"I object!"

"Just a minute, Nikita - "

"Nyet! I am outraged at such crass commercialism. That the homeland of Tchaikovsky, Chekhov, and Boris Pasternak should be auctioned off like so much bad caviar!"

"Nikita, you are old and out of touch. Many even think you are dead. The time for banging a shoe at the United Nations is over. Today, there is a new Russia - put on your fur hat and be gone. Profit margins, here we come!"

"Excuse me, gentlemen. Switzerland is on the phone. They'd like to buy some of our nuclear weapons."

"Excellent! Now, we're getting somewhere. Did you say Switzerland?"

"Or maybe it was Swaziland. The connection is kind of staticky."

"No matter. Put them on hold and run a credit check. Gentlemen, a toast! Today, an international space station. Tomorrow, we buy back Alaska!"

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