Vol. 1, Issue 8, July 1, 2003
Random Numbers for All Purposes
Perplexing Times

Nation Misplaces Rhode Island

In an unprecedented lapse, the federal government issued a statement today indicating that the nation cannot currently locate its smallest state.

"It was noticed during the Senate roll call on Monday that Senators Chafee and Reed were not present," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "Further inquiry determined that neither Senator had been seen for some time, and that the 'Visit Rhode Island' Website was offline. Connecticut state police were asked to take a look over the border and have, in fact, confirmed that the state appears to be missing."

Government officials had no theories as to how the state could have disappeared, nor did they appear particularly worried.

"We have every confidence that Rhode Island's whereabouts will become known within the next 48 hours," Fleischer said. "Our analysts have concluded that the likelihood of foul play is extremely unlikely; the state probably left on its own."

It is the first time that the United States has actually lost a state, although several unsuccessful attempts have been made to shake off California. With an area totaling approximately 1,200 square miles, Rhode Island is slightly smaller than Los Angeles and its outlying suburbs.

"Our office is deeply concerned about this AWOL state," said Connecticut governor John Rowland. "Rhode Island has always served as a crucial buffer state between Connecticut and the South Shore region of Massachusetts. We do not have the personnel necessary to patrol the extra border, and I have asked the Federal government for assistance."

Federal officials are having difficulty in establishing Rhode Island's exact moment of departure, largely because it received so few visitors from out-of-state that no one could be located who had been there recently. The only photos available for the 'Missing' posters date from the 1970's. Rhode Island also gets little to no media coverage.

"The most recent television show to feature Rhode Island was the Fox animated series 'Family Guy,' said Professor Langston Frewls, professor of Government at Harvard. "However, it turns out that the producers actually used drawings of Vancouver for the setting because none of them had ever been to Rhode Island."

Under the terms of the U.S. Constitution, states which go AWOL have 90 days to return before facing expulsion by Congress. There is widespread speculation that, in the event Rhode Island fails to return, Congress will immediately admit a new state in order to avoid having to replace the millions of flags bearing 50 stars, one for each state in the union. "There are lots of possibilities," said Frewl, spinning a globe slowly with a glint in his eye.

"Anyone noticing a smallish land mass full of Caucasians and historic Colonial-era buildings is asked to contact the Federal Government immediately," said Fleischer.


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