L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 115, April 2, 2001
Surprise Complete in Theme Park Opening
by Vin Suprynowicz
Special to TLE
"We fought the good fight, but now it's time to face reality," explained Sen. Harry Reid as behind him Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce spokesman Pat Shalmy and Nevada Resort Association president Bill Bible briefly raised their voices, vying for a seat in the lead car for the first public demonstration run of the "Nuclearland" train ride.
"Southern Nevada's economy is based on tourism, and in Yucca Mountain and this new 'Nuclearland' joint venture among Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Eisner and the Department of Energy, we're getting a top-of-the-line attraction which will appeal to tourists around the world, while paying each Nevada 'Citizen-of-Record' more than any Indigenous Person ever got for any damned oil pipeline," Sen. Reid stressed, as the up-till-now hush-hush project was formally unveiled to a surprised and delighted audience of select press and other dignitaries at 7 p.m. March 31.
"I believe it's accurate to say there's literally nothing else like Nuclearland on the face of the earth," a beaming Sen. Reid continued, after being introduced by incoming Bush administration Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. "Believe me, I've seen that chintzy little Buddhist temple at Hiroshima, with the plaque and the gong, and they've got nothing on us. That one's not even interactive. Here, our Robert Oppenheimer figure is fully interactive."
(The press booklet for the opening gala reports the life-size, talking Oppenheimer figure was animated by the same technical wizards who created the "talking gods and goddesses" at the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace.)
Messrs. Shalmy and Bible seemed to particularly enjoy the final segment of the Nuclearland train ride, in which patrons get to choose a raw steak or live lobster from a trackside tank, whereupon Chef Toshiro affixes the meal-to-be on a skewer outside the window of the rider's car. The train then proceeds through the eerie, blue-lit "Grotto of the Casks," emerging on the other side to disgorge its passengers at Picnicland, where Mr. Toshiro's tableside demonstration chefs quickly chop up the now-thoroughly-cooked entrees, much to the patrons' mouth-watering delight.
"Lighting bills? Heating bills? A thing of the past at an attraction like Nuclearland," explained Mr. Spielberg, who flew in from Auckland, N.Z., scene of his latest honeymoon with new bride Kirsten Dunst, especially for the surprise ribbon-cutting. "You just wouldn't believe the economics of a project like this, especially once you take into account the DOE subsidies."
Counting the $3,000 annual payments to each Nevada "Citizen-of-Record" (with proof of residence established as of April 15, 2000) secretly negotiated by special gubernatorial envoy Scott Scherer, and direct subsidies under a still-sealed contract with Disney and Mr. Spielberg's Dreamworks SKG production company, the Department of Energy will reportedly spend in excess of $7 billion per year making the combined commercial nuclear waste storage/entertainment theme park a reality.
Meantime, a few hundreds yards away outside the fence, the last 12 remaining members of the anti-nuclear Shundahai Network -- gray-haired, clad in Birkenstocks and calf-length peasant skirts -- chanted anti-nuclear slogans in time with their tambourines as the fireworks and festivities got way inside the mountain.
The anti-nuclear protesters were accompanied by an unidentified Green Valley real estate heir in a business suit but wearing no socks, who whacked at the chain and padlock with an object variously identified by onlookers as either a sand wedge or a 9 iron, shouting, "You won't get away with this! My 30,000 readers are going to hear about this!"
Otherwise, the only discordant note was sounded when television reporter George Knapp asked Gov. Kenny Guinn, state Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa, and former Gov. Bob Miller (who briefly emerged from retirement to help cut Nuclearland's giant, blue-glowing ribbon): "You folks have been winning re-election for years by vowing you'd do everything you could to stop nuclear waste coming here to Yucca Mountain, yet here you are today, passing out these 'Get a Glow On' bumperstickers and potholders.
"Would you care to explain to your constituents why you never did the one thing that might have actually worked -- filed a 10th Amendment suit directly with the United States Supreme Court, asking for a pre-emptive ruling that the federal government has no sovereignty over lands it claims to own inside the borders of Nevada; confirming that the federal government has no more right to open a nuclear facility without a state permit than would any private land owner?"
Rather than responding directly to the question, Gov. Guinn smiled and made a more general, well-received remark about "What a wonderful country we live in, where the First Amendment guarantees members of the press their right to ask even questions like that," as Mr. Knapp was removed from the hall by five burly state police officers.
Tragically, the newsman is reported to have suffered a fatal heart attack and run off the road, his car bursting into flames, in an unrelated accident as he drove the 100 miles back to Las Vegas with his videotape footage later yesterday evening.
"This shows that fatigue remains a major cause of accidents on our Nevada roadways, demonstrating once again why the Legislature should act promptly on my request to authorize mandatory sobriety and alertness checkpoints at the earliest opportunity," commented Gov. Guinn, reached at Ms. Dunst's room in a local hostelry in Lathrop Wells early this morning, April Fool's Day, 2001.