Burnout Sanders and the Moon Machine

Illustration for article titled Burnout Sanders and the Moon Machine

Burnout Sanders, the automatic burnout-performing robot that campaigned and won the presidency, was busy trying to make the Presidential Seal golf cart leave some elevenses in the White House lawn with three-fifths of a horsepower while I dealt with Syria.


After the election, the pundit class roared. They claimed that a robot couldn’t be President, but it turns out after closer review of the constitution it didn’t officially forbid it either. We skated into the Oval Office, sweeping the Trump contingent’s payday loan stubs and Gatorade-flavoured vape juice containers strewn about the White House into the dumpster. The only real obstacle we ran into was the Secret Service: they refused to let ol’ Burnie ever drive a car ever again. Needless to say, after several hours of high-pitched existential wailing from the President-elect, they relented and our ratty Trans Am was stored on the White House lawn, its period-correct Radial T/As corded from constant burnouts.

Burnie got along with everybody. Here’s how it would work: you’d be sitting in your office, setting up some sort of deal with a lobbyist or whatever. Suddenly, a six foot tall gleaming polycarbonate-and-high-boron-steel robot bursts into the room, his amber eyes flickering with joy as he outstretches his hand to grasp yours. You’re gonna want to do whatever this guy wants you to do, and you’re gonna want to do it now. Through his tireless efforts, he unified a divided Congress and passed Roads For America, a wide-ranging Presidential project that would imbue every intersection with VHT traction compound, reducing commute times by up to 17% in major urban areas. The dude knew just how hard to push: it was West Wing as shit.


Even the foreign service loved him: I remember visiting England with him, and he told the motorcade driver to get out and let him take care of things. You ever seen a three point five ton armoured limousine light up a six minute long smokeshow outside Piccadilly Circus? Neither had the Brits, and they responded by assembling outside Parliament en masse, loudly demanding that their politicians be replaced by stunt-driving androids as well.

But all was not well. Like many great men, the robot that I built to do burnouts in a hogged-out old F-body had his heart set on a greater prize. I came across him late one night in the halls of the White House, staring out of the window at the moon, his eyes flickering gently as he processed data.


“You know there’s a car up there, right?”

He turned to me then, enraptured.

“Yeah, those NASA guys put up a car with a special kind of tires about sixty years ago. It probably still works.”


I didn’t think anything of it as I returned to my humble but lovely DC rowhouse. The next morning, I arose to see a CNN breaking news headline: not only had President Sanders singlehandedly whipped both Congress and the Senate into giving NASA an unlimited budget, but that he himself was going to be the first President in space. The talking heads were shocked: why would a burnout-performing robot want to go to the moon?

It’s been ten years since then. Even now, when I look up at the moon and see perfect clouds of moon dust, I think of the time we shared together and smile. You were too good for this Earth, flawless-burnout-performing robot.

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