[this story is satire]
An altercation at the Pearly Gates of Heaven occurred when right-wing ex-Sen. Strom Thurmond, who is now dead, tried to force his way into the Heavenly Kingdom despite his application having been denied by God because of Thurmond’s long history as a racist. A tree which has been smote may be reduced to ash or, in this instance, de-barked.Thurmond was subdued by a group of heavenly guards. He called his friend Trent Lott, still alive but in political disgrace, who tried to weasel God into letting Thurmond enter Heaven. Lott’s pleas were unsuccessful. Lott then called Attorney General John Ashcroft, who threatened to open an investigation into the Heavenly Kingdom’s admissions policies. Ashcroft’s threat was met by the smiting of a tree in his backyard by a lightning bolt, which reduced the tree to cinders. A source close to God reports that Ashcroft has retracted his threat.