(The following telephone conversation was recorded surreptitiously.)
PERRY: Paul? Rick Perry.
RYAN: Hi, Rick. Great to hear from you again. I was told you’d be calling. Urgent, they said.
PERRY: They exaggerate. Everything’s on track, believe me. I just need to nail down my positions. If I’m going to be Romney’s piñata this Wednesday, I want to look good.
RYAN: You always look good, Rick. You and that darn hair. You know who they say I look like?
PERRY: Eddie Munster.
RYAN: You got it. I don’t care, though. They’re just jealous of my brain.
PERRY: So am I. That’s why I’m picking it right now.
RYAN: I’m flattered. Pick away, Mr. President. I mean — Governor.
PERRY: Don’t jinx me, Paul. Anyway, here goes. On the surface, you and I are very different kinds of politicians. My thing is putting on some tight blue jeans and a pair of cowboy boots, resting my foot on a hay bale, and letting the Democrat bastards have it with both barrels. Your thing is — no insult intended —
RYAN: None taken —
PERRY: — geeking out in Congress. But although we’re stylistic opposites, we have something big in common right now.
RYAN: Entitlement reform?
PERRY: That’s what I’m trying to call it.
RYAN: You and me both. It’s not easy.
PERRY: I admire what you’ve done on Medicare, Paul. You’ve stuck to your guns. And that’s what I’ve got to do on Social Security. At least until I get the nomination.
RYAN: I know, Rick. You’re playing a triple game. First, you get the Tea Party fired up. Next, you back off a little win the general. And finally — when you’re president — you do what you said you’d do originally.
PERRY: Exactly, Paul. And then I’m going to need your help.
RYAN: You’ll have it. Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do.
PERRY: You realize that by the time I get finished reforming Social Security, there won’t be much left but a rotting carcass?
RYAN: Realize it? I’m counting on it.
PERRY: A lot of people are, Paul. Starting with ——