WASHINGTON - During Congressional hearings on April's unprecedentedly deadly airborne leak of ricilin at Raub Industries' St. Louis factory, which is estimated to have killed some 270 million Americans and millions more beyond the borders, plant officials struggled to explain how such a deadly chemical was handled in such a cavalier fashion and promised not to kill so many people with its next industrial mishap.
Republicans warned that despite the disaster, the deadliest and most costly from a public-relations standpoint in recorded global history, further regulation of the toxic-chemicals industry would be unnecessarily punitive and draconian.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), while expressing muted outrage over the loss of virtually every Republican of voting age in his Congressional District, declared, "While we're all saddened by this most unfortunate incident, I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle - what's left of them, anyway - don't use this to play politics and insist on tighter regulations of a vital American industry that depends upon reckless innovation to succeed. The free market has spoken, and apparently the free market wanted the majority of our countrymen dead."
The disaster occurred on April 18, when three metric tons of ricilin, a nearly weightless and similarly lethal cousin of ricin, seeped into the atmosphere when the giant Halliburton-built cardboard box in which it was being stored toppled from the top shelf of a rickety cabinet where it was being stored. As it happened, ventilation systems in the warehouse in which the ricilin was stored were opened that day in order to, as a Raub spokesman explained, "let the room air out a little," and the plant's containment sealant of Elmer's Glue proved incapable of preventing the chemical from leaking into the Earth's oxygen supplies. High variable winds in the Midwest that day circulated the toxin with a breathtakingly swift cruelty.
Ingesting a mere 200 micrograms of ricilin -- about the size of a quarter of a grain of sand -- is usually fatal. Despite this, the Toxic Substances Administration had been gutted during the Bush Administration, currently boasting but one employee, Emile Débile, who, former colleagues say, spends most of his workdays playing Spider Solitaire. "But he's really good at it," said one former TSA official on the condition of anonymity, just in case someone she knows is still alive.
Within weeks, the death toll had surpassed that of the Black Death of 1348-50 in Europe. Or, as Rand Paul, Kentucky Congressional candidate, explained, "Sometimes accidents happen."
Arthur Schuft, Raub CEO, blamed Halliburton for faulty construction of the cardboard box. Halliburton spokesman Bob "Chuckles" Finster deflected the accusation, insisting, "We told them that the box -- given its structural limitations, given the budgetary constraints they placed upon us when constructing it -- should not be placed any more than four feet from the ground, and they had it, like, 10, 15 feet off the ground."
Schuft added, "We think -- or, at least, hope -- that the toxic airborne event will be sufficiently diluted before it reaches Europe and Asia." With that, he excused himself to go watch the World Cup match between North Korea and Iran.
As the surviving 33 million Americans struggle to grasp the enormity of the calamity and dispose of the dead, Joe Barton (R-Texas), apologized to Schuft and any surviving members of Raub Industries for the "guilt trip" Congress had inflicted on them.
"If you're capable of feeling remorse, then I realize this must be a trying time for you," Barton said. "It is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation that once boasted many living lobbyists can be held accountable for its actions, even if it is responsible for an Extinction-Level Event."