KoolAid and Tang

Some years back, when more than 900 people died drinking poison-laced KoolAid as instructed by their cult leader, whoever was handling PR for the brand must have had a bad day, too. Since then, the powdery, sugar-laced beverage is forever associated with followers who are so lame, they’d follow their leader to death. Lemmings have been displaced.

Evil political manipulator Zachary Fine knew about leadership. He’d talked people into doing amazingly stupid things, especially voting self-serving morons into office. Zach drank Tang. Compulsively. That was his poison. Of course, Tang is associated with brave and capable adventurers. It was known as the drink of intrepid astronauts, although actual astronauts would never touch the stuff.

But it fueled Zack as he developed political smears at the (deniable) behest of his high-paying clients. But nowadays exposing wrongdoing isn’t the job. Everybody gets caught doing something. No, the issue is: will the culprit be forgiven? Zack’s job was to ensure that his clients got off and that his clients’ enemies did not.

His current client was running for governor. The skeletons in his closet were, at least for the moment, safe. It was his opponent, the current governor running for a second term, that was the target.

Objectively, he was hard to attack. The state was doing pretty well, and although the governor had little to do with that, he got the credit. That’s how that always works. So Zack had to convince voters that things were worse than they were, or that something else entirely disqualified the governor from continuing in office.

Zack decided to get the voters angry at some imaginary injustice. That not only changed minds, but it motivated people to actually show up and vote.

The city’s comfortable, safe and otherwise happy citizens fell for it, as usual. Zack looked forward to collecting his handsome fee. But first he’d sit back and enjoy his candidate’s victory speech.

“I just finished speaking to the governor,” said the governor-elect, “and congratulated him on a well-run campaign.”

The governor-to-be was surrounded by his aides. He continued.

“I urge my supporters to join my staff and me as we celebrate our victory in heaven”

At that point, the victorious candidate and his staff lifted their glasses of some kind of drink, toasted, and drank. Then, they sat down on the floor, neatly lined up and died.

There, on the table, was an empty container of Country Time Lemon Aide powder. Reports of loyal voters drinking poison-laced lemon aide soon poured in, disturbing the normally imperturbable Zack. And somewhere, a brand manager cried.