Recent breakthroughs in heat-resistant space-suit technology (thanks Elon Musk) have finally allowed researchers to survive short periods in extremely high temperatures. This reporter was the first journalist allowed to use this protective gear to land the most coveted assignment of all: a few minutes in hell with history's most celebrated madman. Of course I asked the ultimate eminence grise of dictators the question on everyone's mind: What does he think of Donald Trump?
Adolf Hitler welcomed me into his condo in the "Ninth Circle" gated community, dubbed "Bunker Raton" by the locals. He credited Albert Speer for the spare and functional décor, graced only by a few of his own fading watercolors. I asked him if he still painted.
"Indirectly," he answered. "I may have something to do with the interest of a certain ex-President of yours in creating bathtub self-portraits."
Eva Braun, whose cyanide pallor was offset by the orange light of the licking flames, offered me some iced tea.
"It's not very cold of course, but it's the best we can do."
I pointed to the protective plexiglass globe around my head.
"Thank you, but I'm afraid I can't."
Hitler rolled his eyes.
"Such a dumpkof, this one."
Eva glared at her husband.
"I was just being polite. Like a good German." She turned to me, as if to explain.
"We don't entertain much."
"'Not like Berchtesgarden'" mocked Hitler. "We know, we know! Please, liebchen, the man doesn't have much time. Go do your puzzle or something."
Eva withdrew with a strained smile.
"I'll be in my room, if you need me."
"Why should we need you?"
She slammed the door behind her. Hitler was non-plussed.
"What can I say, she gets bored. I can't really blame her. We only get basic cable down here. She can't figure out the DVR, so she goes over to the Goebbels' to watch movies. I think they've seen The Devil Wears Prada a thousand times."
I couldn't help but notice the unmistakable Yiddish cadence to his voice.
"LOL, right? Turns out God likes to punish ironically. Guess what my work assignment is? I'm a kosher butcher. Me, a vegetarian and an animal lover! In fact, that's the worst thing about being here -- I'll never see my Schatzi again. Turns out all dogs really do go to heaven."
He actually teared up a little. After a respectful pause, I pushed forward.
"I don't want to be rude, but-"
"Oh right, Herr Drumpf. That's his real name you know."
I made a mental note that Hitler watched John Oliver. Basic cable, my ass.
"He's a clown, that's what I think. As bad as Mussolini, and that's saying something."
I couldn't resist asking if he still spent time with Il Duce.
"Not so much" he muttered resentfully. "Runs with a different crowd. Gaddafi. Ceausescu. Amin... bunch of losers."
Hearing himself, Hitler smacked his forehead.
"Jeez, I'm starting to talk like Trump. I've got to stop watching so much MSNBC!"
That admission caught me visibly off-guard.
"You wouldn't think, would you? Was better when Olbermann was on though."
I was mesmerized, but feeling a little toasty. I had to get to the point of the interview.
"So you don't endorse Trump, then?"
"I do... and I don't."
He said this with a twinkle in his eye.
"I read The Art of the Deal. Everything's a negotiation."
I resented being used a pawn, but this was the scoop of my career, so I was game.
"What do you want?"
Hitler stood up, suddenly re-inhabiting the feverish persona I knew well so well from the History Channel. Extending his arm, claw-like, he dramatically scrawled his proposal in flames.
"Dead Celebrity Apprentice!"
So that was it. He wanted his own reality show. I should have guessed.
"Imagine who I could get on every season. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot! All the great murderers of history! Also throw in some D-listers - I know how it works. Jeffrey Dahmer, Attila the Hun, Lizzie Borden-they're all into it. I've also lined up Rasputin, Vlad the Impaler, and Caligula. You should see him with Gore Vidal- they can't stand each other! Ratings gold!"
He was going in and out now, half-Norma Desmond, half-Aaron Spelling. Andy Cohen, basically.
"Obviously I could use 'You're on fire!' as a tag line. So you tell Trump, if he makes sure this show happens, I'll give him my endorsement."
"I'll see what I can do." I'd always wanted to direct, anyway. Maybe this was my big break.
Worried about my oxygen levels, I stood to go. Just then the doorbell rang.
"Perfect timing. That's Moshe Dayan. He's never late - not like most Israelis."
I don't know why, at this point, I was surprised, but Moshe Dayan? He explained.
"Friendly little game of poker, every Wednesday. Then he waterboards me for three hours."
"I've said I'm sorry maybe 6 millions times, but it's never enough. But at least afterwards he lets me watch Himmler and Goering be kept in stress positions for days at a time. I never get tired of that."
He leaned into me conspiratorially.
"Just wait till your friend Scalia gets through processing. He's in for a big surprise."
This was juicy.
"Give me a hint."
"I'll just say this: I hope he brought some lube."
He walked me to the door and I thought of one last question.
"What if Trump says no, he doesn't want your endorsement? He's got to pivot for the general, after all."
"Even better. Gives me more leverage. But I'll sweeten the pot. I'll pay him 20% of the gross, and to boot, when he gets down here, I'll get him get a membership at Lava Hills Country Club - very exclusive."
"Really? Doesn't seem very punishing."
"Oh yeah? Ever play golf on the side of an active volcano?