McLean, VA: A family gathers around a dining room table, finishing up their Thanksgiving dinner of warm baked bread, soy loaf, green beans, and fresh salad which was grown in the mandatory backyard plot behind the house.
At the head of the table sits a slightly slumped over, tired-looking Marc Morano, the 77 year old patriarch of the clan who is visiting from a nearby assisted living facility. He’s flanked on both sides by his adoring 10 year old twin grandchildren, Leonore and Carl.
As dessert is brought out, the twins beg their grandfather for stories about the past. They’ve recently been reading in history books that long ago, before they were born, there were no nightly rolling brownouts, travel wasn’t at all restricted, no one had to be “micro-chipped” with a carbon budget device, and water was actually available for things like daily showers and there were even swimming pools.
Leonore: Grandpa, what was your job when you were younger? Weren’t you a reporter or something?
Morano: Why, yes, I sure was. I used to do reporting in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. – just across the Potomac. I investigated some pretty important things in my day and put them on something Climate Depot…
At this point, Morano’s nephew, Will, who is a gay reporter, also working in D.C., pipes up…
Will: Leonore, your grandfather wrote some pretty bad things about gay people back in his day, too. Maybe he’ll tell you about that.
Morano: Nonsense. I don’t remember anything like that, Will.
Will: My dear Uncle may forget, kids, but the Internet will always remember.
Carl: Grandpa, did you fight to save the climate before everything went bad? You were a grown up back then, weren’t you?
Morano: Well, Carl, we all did our best, you know? No one was sure about all that science stuff and what was really happening, so we had a lot of debates about it, trying to figure out what to do…
Will (interrupting again): Actually, Carl, your grandfather was one of the loudest guys saying that nothing bad was happening at all to the environment. And he worked for some pretty bad guys…
At this point, Morano’s sister, Laura joins in…
Laura: Rush Limbaugh may have been the worst of them all, but I have to admit that when his old boss, Senator Inhofe, was questioned about his own climate denial and he just threw Marc under the bus and blamed him for all the misinformation about everything, I kind of disliked him the most.
Leonore: What’s “under the bus” mean?
Morano: Forget about that, sweetie. To answer your question, Carl…
Will breaks in: …And when Rolling Stone magazine called your grandfather one of the planet’s top “climate killers,” I must say, I thought about changing my last name. Instead, I just denied that we were related. You’ll do the same, kids, when you get old enough.
Carl: Why would I pretend we weren’t related to grandpa, Uncle Will?
[Leonore starts to cry softly, trying to hide it]
At that moment, the lights go dark because of the rolling brownouts. The grown-ups rush to light candles, having been temporarily distracted by the after dinner talk at the table.
Morano stands up to leave, but finds it difficult to see where he’s going. Instead, he stands perfectly still, waiting for the candles to be lit so he can be walked back to his nursing home.