[There was a video here]

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having interest in Top Chef Season 7 DC, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the season is now screening. God save thievery and Log Cabin republicans!

"For de little stealin' dey gits you in jail soon or late. For de big stealin' dey makes you emperor and puts you in de Hall o' Fame when you croaks." —The Emperor Jones, Eugene O'Neill

There's big cheating and then there's little cheating. One can steal kisses, a plane, towels from the gym, $50 billion, English pea puree. One can lie to oneself or to others, often both, rarely neither. What is the world if not a Costco of deceit, aisles and aisles of cheap brightly colored lies that promise time-saving high-performance deception? There are a million fibers connecting us to the world and a billion ways to twist those fibers into yarns. Last night's Top Chef was a Devil's Cookbook, with apologies to Ambrose Bierce. In every act, a cheat. In every breast, a cheating heart. In every politician, teeth too big, a pearly rictus of oily machinery. Some entries from last night's episode:

Violations of the Spirit of the Law: We can all agree the "toothpick rule" (or its equally ridiculous official name "The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007") is a very wry joke played upon the world. Congressmen cannot accept, say, dinner for two at a restaurant (or perhaps dinner for six at The Palm?) since this would require eating—like the civilizeds do—with silverware while sitting. Congressmen can, however, mill about in their oxfords and no-break slacks like a herd of well-groomed sheep, munching on small hors d'oeuvres on toothpicks, while the pack of vulpine lobbyists circle. (Or maybe both parties are wolves and we're the sheep. Or maybe there are no sheep in the world. The wolves have won.) Oh, and you know what else they can accept? Millions of dollars from corporations during election campaigns. Toothpick rule: Not seeing the forest for the toothpicks.

Self Deception: This guy on the right—Aaron Schock, a Republican Representative from Illinois and last night's Quickfire guest judge—is according to his own self, straight. Self deception is nobody's business, really. We are all terrariums full of flies and lies, doctored memories and sweetened opinions but as long as the bell jar isn't lifted, the system remains closed. But with elected officials it's different. Schock's shocking straightness bleeds into his voted-upon belief that two people of the same sex should not be able to legally marry and that a man in whose mouth explodes flavors of the other men—cucumber coins of cum!—and whose meat-laden toothpicks pierce him bodily should not be able to defend his country in the armed forces. He also wore a dapper contrast collar.

Willful Ignorance: Stupidity can't be helped but ignorance can be worked on. One can't blame Amanda, raving madwoman of the ghostly hallows of idiocy, for being an idiot. When God made her, he must have gotten distracted after forming her face—"Ooh, I can make algae that glow!" sayeth Our Lord—and forgot her brains. One can, however, wonder what she's doing in a kitchen if she doesn't "do" desserts, she doesn't "do" appetizers, and she's ever scampering around the kitchen frantic and sad like a wounded squirrel with its gut busted by a thrown rock. What kind of chef has no idea what a Porterhouse steak is or that by taking it off the bone, it ceases to be a Porterhouse? Writer, write me a sentence using a verb. "I don't 'do' verbs." Writer, use an adjective in a phrase. "Thrombosis!" How long can this woman befoul the screens of our living rooms? Mothers of America, let your kids go to the movies. Get them out of the house so they won't see Amanda's toxic stupidity.

Theft: Last night's challenge was straightforward enough: Cook a "power lunch" using proteins provided by the Palm restaurant, a place where I suppose power lunches happen. Cook it and serve it to a panel of plastic-faced people, cheap Halloween caricatures of Americans, smiling blonde unctuous twats with pasty paunches, dough faced boy men capitalizing on the untimely deaths of their fathers and the anxiety of American mothers. Fair enough. Thankfully there were no twists baked into the contest, no "Now suck off the person on your left and somehow work their effluvia into your dish." Amanda: "I don't do 'suck!'" [Ed Note: All you do is suck!] Stephen: "My precious tricksy hobbits!" Tiffany: "Oh Hail NO!" But beware for the hour was not yet over.

Behold Eddie Cotton, his white flesh as red as the carapaces of, his eyebrows wriggling as wildly as the maxillipeds of the lobsters he swallowed. (His heart beats red too, for Tiffany's lush hillocks and moist valleys though since unconsummated the two see nothing untoward in their intimacy. See Violation of the Spirit of the Law.) More to the point: Eddie made English pea puree, on that much we can all agree. Alex knew Eddie made English pea puree. But for those of you who watched the episode, you'll know Alex, the sinister Russian, thieved Eddie Cotton's pea puree! He took Eddie's English Pea Puree! He took it as if it were his! There's no question about it. There's a question about it. One doubts if Bravo were armed with incriminating footage, the company would hesitate to produce the body. And, evidently, evidentially they didn't have it. So we didn't witness R. Crumb's bald stripper-fucking eightball-snorting scat-loving cat-fancying, googly-eyed vampire suck from Eddie Cotton's cooler his English pea puree like it was true blood and he was Edward and the cooler was Bella. (Kenny plays Jacob, Padma is Dakota Fanning. Angelo Sosa is Riley.) But we know this to be true. English pea puree doesn't just evaporate. Well, it does but slowly, slowly. No. Alex took Edward's English pea puree, threw it in a blender and pawned it off as his own. He might believe he didn't (See Self-Deception.) but he did. Alex won last night's challenge on that pilfered pea puree and depending on how things go from here, according to the trenchant and true predictions of The Emperor Jones, he'll either end up in jail or in the Hall of Fame. We hope it's the former.