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In the original draft of the Constitution presidents could only do three things. They could run for president, they could issue proclamations and they could make delicious brownies for the Congress. This was referred to as the Keebler Plan and it failed because the large states thought they should get larger brownies than the small states, while the small states wanted two brownies of equal size for each state. All the candidates for president decided they’d rather run for Vice President because the Keebler Plan gave him a full tray of pecan sandies every Monday.

And so they had to rework the whole thing, only they left in the part about giving proclamations. The first one was by George Washington, but it was only a test. He sent a proclamation to Congress and all it said was “let me know if this worked. If I don’t hear from you by Thursday I’ll send over another copy.” Supporters of Alexander Hamilton thought it was a sign that the new country would back Britain on the papaya issue, but there was no papaya issue then. Jefferson wrote 800 essays about the mistake, using the Latin pseudonym “Papayatus,” but he wasn’t able to discredit his rival as he’d hoped. Hamilton wanted to draw attention away from papayas, and urged Washington to issue a proclamation urging “all liberty-loving citizens of distinction to consume popcorn of the Jolly Time variety” but the president declined, saying he wanted to see if the first proclamation made it to Congress ok.

And did the Congress get that proclamation? Yes, but only after they’d passed a resolution calling on the president to issue exclamations instead of proclamations. So the messenger sent over the new resolution about exclamations and, boy, did General Washington ever give an exclamation! Heh, that’s a good one.

Here’s a little-known fact: the messenger at that time liked to joke around, and so when he delivered messages to the president he’d always say, “Here’s your message… don’t shoot the messenger!” And then he’d laugh so long Washington would grit his wooden teeth. One time he was grinding the teeth so hard splinters shot out and hit the messenger in the eye. He wasn’t laughing then, I bet.

Washington sent another proclamation to Congress, saying “if this or future proclamations show up late, it’s because the messenger is recovering from eye splinters, caused indirectly by his unceasing clowning.” Finally he stopped sending proclamations because the messenger kept putting them in the laundry by mistake. Even back then the damn government couldn’t do anything right.

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