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Then, in the two-hour season finale (Jeff Probst parachuted onto the Capitol Dome in the opening), the speaker and the president held dueling news conferences. And they were the most hilarious of all.

Mr. Boehner, looking like a whipped whelp, held court first. “So,” he said whelpingly, “we see a situation where because of the political divide in the country, because of the divide here in Washington, trying to bridge these differences has been difficult. If it were easy, I guarantee you this would have been done decades before.”

“Mr. Speaker,” a reporter said, “it sounds like you’re walking away from talks with the president.”

“No, no, no. Listen, I did not say that. Nobody is out to read anything into this” — this cataclysmic failure to even persuade his own party to support his plan.

The president took the podium next, and, in an arrogant, ego-filled flourish, said he would rather negotiate with, say, America — everyone in America! — instead of these bull-headed lawmakers.

“The challenge that we’ve got right now is that the American people are a lot more sensible and a lot more thoughtful and much more willing to compromise, and give, and sacrifice, and act responsibly than their elected representatives are. And that’s a problem,” he said.

But hey, not THAT big a problem, really. With the nation about to plummet over the rocky crag, the president saw an upside to the disastrous and abrupt end to negotiations. “Everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols,” he said with his patented, self-satisfied smile. Fade to black. Cue credits.

And that’s just what he did. The president grabbed the family and jetted off to Hawaii (cost for the 10-hour flight, at $181,757 per hour — $1.8 million — just for the flight!). By noon the next day he was on the golf course, teeing it up with his hooker-loving buddy Bobby Titcomb. The 535 lawmakers also jetted off to their respective homes — who knows how many millions of taxpayer dollars that cost.

It’s a real cliff-hanger, America. What will happen next season? Of course, the president will jet back (maybe with a jetpack on his back), stern furrow in his brow, that knowing smug smile, to fix all of our wagons. But will he be able to overcome the nefarious alliances being built up in the grass huts around the Capitol? Can he make a deal to, say, vote the Speaker off the island and join forces with whoever fills the power vacuum? And can he even get his own tribe in the Senate to do — well, anything at all?

Stay tuned, America. Unlike TV, it’s all real, and your very life depends on it.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at