Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis Mondays and Fridays, 3-6pm CT

Friday, May 30, 2008

White Lie

In Scott McClellan's book, "What Happened," he recounts a story from the campaign trail in 1999-2000, when Bush was being dogged by reports that he'd used cocaine when he was younger. In a hotel suite one night, McClellan says he overheard Bush talking with a supporter:

"The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors," I heard Bush say. "You know the truth is, I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember."
If McClellan's memory is correct, then Bush is full of it.

I say that as a guy who partied pretty hard when I was younger. In college, I was a major pot-head. I also used cocaine -- exactly twice. The first time, I was already stoned, and the coke had no affect on me. The second time was different. It made me forget how to swallow.

No, really. My brain couldn't send the right impulses to my throat to get me to swallow. It was annoying as hell, as I had to keep getting up every few minutes to go spit out the saliva that had collected in my mouth.

At the time, I was just starting my commercial radio career -- after several years behind the mike in high school and college -- and it occurred to me that, in this profession, losing control of my throat was not a good idea. It scared me enough that I swore I would never use coke again (a friend from those days jokes that it was around that time I started drinking Pepsi exclusively).

The point is that, despite "some pretty wild parties," I still have a vivid memory of using that particular drug. I remember what I ingested. I may not be able to quantify the amount of marijuana I rolled, bonged, or cooked into brownies, but know and admit that I used it. I also know that after Halloween 1978 I quit using it altogether, cold turkey.

More importantly, almost 30 years later, I remember what I didn't do. Never took a hit of LSD. Never did heroin. Never ate magic mushrooms.

So I find it nearly impossible to believe that Bush can't remember whether he tried cocaine. That's as lame as Clinton's claim that he tried marijuana but "didn't inhale."

Both are patently dishonest, cynical, purely political answers. They are concerned with what the public might think, but neglect to acknowledge that so many other baby boomers -- like them, like me -- had similar experiences.

As long as we've put them all behind, no one should hold them against us. Unless we're liars.

That's What Uniform Means

In Chardon, Ohio, two students are refusing to wear the cap and gown at graduation, so the schools says they can't walk on stage with the other graduates.

It's turned into an ugly issue because the two boys want to wear their military uniforms on stage instead -- Will McDonnell is a Marine and Tony Workman is an Army National Guardsman. The boys say they will wear their uniforms, and if they can't pick up their diplomas on stage, they'll just stand at their seats when their names are called.

The boys' families are appalled at the school's decision, and have pushed the issue in the press. That brought all the usual suspects out of the woodwork to criticize the principal, Doug Delong, claiming he's "unpatriotic," or hates the military, or whatever fits their narrow-minded agendas. To the contrary, Delong is preserving respect for the school's rules -- if he lets Will and Tony skip the cap and gown, he'll set a precedent for other kids to wear whatever they want -- and he's gone out of his way to devise a plan that includes honoring the boys for joining our armed forces.

Here's the school district's official release:

The Chardon Schools have recently been the subject of news stories for upholding the High School’s tradition of donning a cap and gown to receive a high school diploma. Two students who have recently completed military boot camp have challenged this decision.

When this issue was first brought to our attention we developed a compromise that would allow these two young men to be honored as members of our nation’s military and as graduating seniors of the Chardon High School class of 2008.The plan was that the two graduating seniors would join the official Color Guard in their full military uniform and lead the graduation processional into the ceremony. After the salute to our Nation’s flag they would be introduced and recognized for their military accomplishments. They would then join their fellow classmates in cap and gown to be honored for their educational achievements.

This would allow these two individuals to be honored for their separate achievements, while at the same time providing for the traditional observation of wearing a cap and gown to receive a diploma.

This practice has long been a show of respect to fellow classmates, teachers, parents, and the community that has provided them with a public education.

It is unfortunate that this compromise has been viewed by some as being unpatriotic. This was not the intent.

We believe that wearing your school’s cap and gown to receive your diploma is a show of respect to your school, fellow classmates, and for the public education you have been privileged to receive.
When I discussed this on WBT last night, most of the callers agreed that the school administration is handling this in just the right way.

One caller, however, debated the notion of honoring Will and Tony's "military achievements" at all: "What have they achieved? So far, all they've done is survived boot camp. It's not like they've done an extended tour in Iraq, or put in a decade of service."

Apparently, there's something these two didn't learn in boot camp -- do what you're told to do. I'm not saying you shouldn't question authority, but you have to be willing to accept the consequences. Moreover, the concept works better in civilian life, where the penalties are much less harsh than in the military, which tends to frown on anyone refusing to follow the rules.

After graduation, when they report for duty, let's see how well it works out when Will and Tony tell their platoon leader that they want to make their own fashion choices.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man willing to pay the woman he marries $5,000, a referee who got in trouble for changing his mind on a call, and a thief who pretended to be a 7-11 clerk.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a wedding with too much sparkle, a theft at the car wash, and a man with maid trouble.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

IQ Test

Here's a handy time-waster around the office -- a quick IQ test, which you'll want to try again and again [thanks to Stuart Snyder for the link]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Man Who Won't Be Prez

Bob Barr will not be President of the United States.

The former congressman from Georgia became the nominee of the Libertarian Party this weekend, and proclaimed himself a "competitor" who's "in it to win it." But he has to know that he has no chance of winning it.

Although I'm happy to see a candidate willing to speak out on civil liberties issues -- particularly Barr's change of mind regarding the Patriot Act, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the Failed War On Drugs -- the fact is that no third-party candidate has a chance of beating the Democrat and Republican in the race, regardless of who they are.

The reason is simple: money.

While Barr may have the support of the Reason magazine crowd, he'll never raise the tens of millions of dollars necessary to truly compete on a national scale, and without that, he won't be able to buy anywhere near the huge amounts of television and radio time that Obama and McCain will. He also won't get the platform to challenge them during the debates unless he garners enough support to cross the 15% threshold in national polls, which no candidate from outside the Big Two Parties has done since Ross Perot.

Barr says, "I certainly have no intention of being a spoiler," but that may be exactly the role he ends up playing. In a race between two candidates who claim to appeal to independents, and who will depend on them for the swing votes so crucial to the race, Barr could attract a few percentage points worth of votes. If that support comes from divided Republicans who don't want to hold their nose and vote for their party's standard-bearer, he may have the same affect on McCain as Ralph Nader did on Al Gore in 2000 -- just enough of a distracting nuisance to decide the whole thing, if it's close.

The problem with third-party candidates is that they appeal to disaffected voters with widely varying agendas, who tend not to vote with any single voice. It'll be interesting to see how Barr's core conservatism meshes with the Libertarian movement, and whether its followers will become his followers.

At the very least, Barr may serve as the voice for a growing number of Americans who still want less nanny government, less fundamentalist intrusion on our lives, better protections for our civil liberties, and respect for The Bill Of Rights above all else.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a customs officer who hid something in a suitcase and then couldn't find it, a man in love with a voice mail voice, and a teacher's stolen iPhone.

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This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include an unusual baseball trade, a double DUI offender, and a woman who gave some wolf-whistling construction workers what they wanted.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a cursing parrot, a lying suspect, and a guy who doesn't know the difference between a taxi and a police car.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories all involve animals -- a donkey that was thrown in jail, a bear gnawing on a man's head, and a parrot that knows its home address.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a convenience store trade, a strip club daddy, and the reason why carving knives are not allowed in the bedroom.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Priorities, OK?

I was in Oklahoma this weekend and stayed in a hotel that delivered a copy of Tulsa World to every room each morning. On Sunday, two items in the paper's Opinion section caught my eye because they were such polar opposites when it comes to the priorities of issues that Americans care about.

The front page story, by Associate Editor Janet Pearson, was about a new report from the state's Department of Health on a wide range of public health issues -- in particular, preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Her piece illustrates how Oklahomans have a long way to go in both categories.

Pearson reported on the data, which shows: only 13.5% of new mothers received any type of counseling or advice to prepare for becoming pregnant; that STDs like chlamydia are rampant across the state, especially among young people; that 12,000 Oklahoma women are the victims of sexual violence every year; and on and on.

She implores the public to get better educated on these matters, to make sure their children are exposed to the vital scientific information they need, and that prevention programs should be better funded. She concludes:

As these data show, Oklahoma is just not a place where the prevention philosophy has caught on in a big way. That's too bad. The results often are costly, and sometimes even tragic. We could, and should do better.

It would be nice to think that Tulsa World's readers will heed Pearson's warnings, understand the importance of her piece, and take it to heart, but it seems they have other things to worry about.

Case in point...on the very next page of Sunday's Opinion section were several letters to the editor. In the leadoff spot -- where you'd expect the most vital issues of the day to be addressed -- was a letter from reader Kevin Peters, who was upset that he had taken his daughter to a movie theater and was horrified to see, during the string of trailers and pre-show ads, a commercial for Oreos in which the people on screen were speaking Spanish, with English subtitles. He wrote:

"Excuse me, but this is America. I found it distasteful and ludicrous that I, a 55-year-old American, should have to read an ad for Oreos because I couldn't understand the language on the screen. If my daughter had not been with me I would have demanded back the American tender I used to purchase our tickets.... I have bought my last Nabisco product. We have servicemen and women dying everyday for this country and Nabisco cares more about its profits than supporting the core values that make life in America worth living. Giving away our country, one cookie at a time, is not one of those values."

Think about this for a moment. This was such a major issue to Peters that he had to share his anger with the world (or at least the Tulsa World). I'm guessing that Peters didn't object when that same theatre showed movies with subtitles -- and I'm not just referring to foreign films, but American classics like Costner's "Dances With Wolves," Spielberg's "Schindler's List," and Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima."

Is Peters really that insecure an American that he can't stand to hear non-English speaking characters in a cookie commercial? Apparently, he is, and I guarantee you that there are many others who agree with him, and think something should be done about it.

Perhaps the Oklahoma legislature should spend some valuable time working on El Cookie Controversy instead of the public health crisis the state is mired in. Give the voters what they want -- more misplaced priorities.

Idol Finale

Among his limited range of cliches, Randy Jackson once again invoked his tired line "Dude, you can sing the phone book" on tonight's "American Idol" finale. He's now said it in the last few weeks to both David Cook and David Archuleta. Hopefully, when they go on the Idols tour this summer, there will be a radio or TV host somewhere smart enough to actually challenge one or both of these guys to sing from the Yellow Pages.

As for the competition, while David Cook will undoubtedly have the better career boost from the show, it'll take him a lot to overcome Archuleta's teen fan base after the latter's reprise of "Imagine" to close the show.

Jeopardy!


If you enjoy really good contestants on "Jeopardy," set the DVR for this week.

Today's champion was a grad student from California named Larissa Kelly, who racked up an amazing $45,200 in one day. She's the most soft-spoken contestant I've ever seen on the show, but she's gutsy, too. She wagered $8,000 on a Daily Double in a General Science category ("The IRAS telescope, which revealed 5 new comets, made its observations in this part of the light spectrum") and then $7,000 on a DD in Shakespearean Phrases ("A wife tries to console her husband in this tragedy by telling him, 'What's done is done'") and nailed both of them.

Whether she'll be the female Ken Jennings remains to be seen (she only has to win 74 more times to be in his league), but she's certainly impressive. Interestingly, Larissa's sister Adrianna was a "Jeopardy" contestant just a few months ago.

FYI, the Daily Double answers were "What is infrared?" and "What is Macbeth?"

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a guy who put his nozzle in the wrong hole, a teenager going wild with dad's credit card, and another head-scratching con job.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's 1867 All Over Again

In a fascinating op-ed piece, Diane Eickhoff (a/k/a Mrs. TV Barn) sees parallels between this year's historic Democratic primary battle and the post-Civil-War attempts to gain voting rights for blacks and women.

Diane's book, "Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols And the Pioneering Crusade for Women's Rights," just went into its second printing.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a passenger forced to fly in an airplane bathroom, a driver who put seat belts on a case of beer, and a 51¢ property tax bill.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include listening to the dead through your cell phone, a blind bowler's perfect game, and a woman who caught a thief via a remote hookup to her laptop.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Nanny Chang

Yesterday, my wife and I had lunch at PF Chang's. My wife likes the place for its ginger broccoli chicken, but for me it's a little too sterile, too corporate, too Caucasian.

I prefer our neighborhood Chinese restaurant, where the vegetable pot stickers have been the Special Of The Day every day for five years. Where all the employees are Asian and a few even speak English. Where every time I order takeout over the phone I'm told it will be ready in 20 minutes (seriously, make it one order of sesame chicken or a meal for six brigades and it'll always be waiting for you in 20 minutes, with plenty of extra soy sauce packets).

The only thing the two restaurants have in common is the pre-wrapped fortune cookies, where the fortune has been replaced by a never-witty aphorism ("memories are important") and your Lucky Numbers.

At Chang's, blond and perky Ashley The Waitress approached our table, introduced herself and asked, "Are there any allergy or dietary restrictions I should know about?" That's the sort of personal information I'm rarely asked for, outside of the clipboard questionnaire at the doctor's office (right under "have you ever had whooping cough or been bitten by a venomous snake?").

Either Ashley also works part time as a physician's assistant and forgot where she was, or it's another step forward in the Nanny America crusade.

We used to be responsible for this ourselves. If you had an allergy to shellfish, or peanuts, or dairy, or you were a vegetarian, or kept kosher, it was up to you to be careful about the food your ordered. If you had questions about certain items on the menu, the burden was on you to ask about them.

Not anymore. Now, Corporate America is watching out for you or, more likely, they're watching out for their bottom line.

No doubt, someone went to PF Chang's and was served a meal containing a food ingredient they were allergic to. After the customer had a negative reaction, they filed a lawsuit, claiming that the restaurant had been negligent in not disclosing every tidbit of every dish. That willful act and disdain for the customer's personal health regime -- combined with deep pockets -- made the company liable for a nice big settlement.

Ashley's question allows the restaurant to rebut your negligence claim by showing that they care enough to ask right up front, thus putting the ball back in your court, where it belongs.

Since the only thing that restricts my diet is the lack of food in front of me, we enjoyed a normal meal. When we finished, Ashley put our leftovers in to-go boxes at table side ("see, we care so much about you that we don't do this in the ladies room like we used to!"). Then she put those boxes into a bag, folded the top down with Stepford neatness, and turned it so the PF Chang's logo was facing us.

There, printed under the logo, was the perfect bookend notice to Ashley's opening question: "For your safety, please refrigerate as soon as possible." That's a good reminder, because I do have a tendency to leave leftovers in the trunk of my car for two or three weeks before eating them.

Thanks for looking out for me again, Nanny Chang!

Unfortunately, those promised Lucky Numbers did not yield me a big Powerball win, so my attorney is currently planning legal action against the fortune cookie company, its distributor, and PF Chang's China Bistro. We'll have the paperwork ready in about 20 minutes.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a hospital hazmat scare, a new kind of deadhead pothead, and a car accident that was just the start of one man's problems.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Equipped To Lose

As I was flicking around the TV this weekend, I saw a few minutes of a golf tournament where a couple dozen golfers plunked their shots into the water while trying to get onto an island green. While it all seemed very miniature-golf-like to me, I couldn't help but wonder...is golf the only sport where the participants can lose their own equipment?

Major league baseball and NHL players don't have to provide the balls and pucks that may go over the wall or glass. The NFL puts up those nets to keep the pigskin from flying into the stands during field goal attempts. The NBA doesn't let fans keep the ball even if it does go into the crowd. I've never seen a tennis player lose his tennis racket to a sea of fans.

Can you think of one?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Beatles Stories


If you're a Beatles fan, you might enjoy this interview with Ken Mansfield, who did a lot of promotion for them and was US manager for Apple Records [thanks to David Hooper for the link].

Political Line Of The Day

On "Meet The Press" this morning, Tim Russert asked his panel of corresondents whether it was certain Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee. John Harwood responded yes, then added this qualifier:

There's nothing Hillary Clinton can do to change it. Stuff could happen to Barack Obama. If we found out that there was a secret poker game when Tony Rezko was paying Barack Obama to write Jeremiah Wright's sermons and to organize Muslim English professors for a new Weather Underground chapter, maybe Barack Obama could be stopped. But that's a fantasy and you just simply can't see it happening.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a guy sleeping on a plane without a ticket, a woman fired over a 16-cent donut, and a mom's reaction to her kid stepping in dog crap.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Mother's Day Index

My friend Ric Edelman has compiled his annual Mother's Day Index, and says that if you paid the average mom a fulltime wage for the approximately 17 jobs she does, her salary would be $802,690 (up almost thirty grand from last year).

Look for Ric doling out advice on what you should do to plan for retirement on "Boomer Angst," a CNBC special that airs Friday, May 16, at 8pm and 11pm CT.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

KMOV Gets Skeptical


Robert Lancaster, the man behind StopSylvia.com, e-mails:

In case you haven't seen the promos, KMOV News is evidently ripping Sylvia Browne a new one tonight, I believe at 10pm. They called and spoke with me, and interviewed Randi on camera for it. Based on that, and the promo they are running for it, it looks like Browne will not be happy. In fact, in the promo, they even show her in her wheelchair, without her hair and makeup done. I would imagine she is pretty pissed about that. Here is a link to the promo.
Here's Robert on my show last year talking about what he's exposed about Browne.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a biker who flipped off the cops, a bad quick trip from the Quik Trip, and a glass that was clean filled with wine that wasn't.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a very pre-paid water bill, a mom who freaked over a voice mail from her son, and the Bermuda Triangle parking lot.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include some life lessons: don't drink and tag, don't bring your boyfriend when you apply for a job, and don't try to rob the bank where you work.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Touching Them All

A few days ago, I linked to the inspirational story of an injured softball player who was helped around the bases by her opponents. Today, Jeff Olsen sent me the link for ESPN's version of this story of true sportsmanship, which aired on SportsCenter last night...





Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a check with too many zeroes, a man who had to dial 911 with his toe, and a naked-butt prom invitation.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A President To Be Proud Of

Howard Hoffman says when hiring the next president, he wants certain things:

I don't mind my president enjoying arugula.
I don't care if he or she is smarter than the room.
I kinda like the idea of a president with big brains.

I'll never have a beer with my president.
I don't want to have a beer with my president.
I don't want my president having a beer with me.
I want my president to have better things to do.
I want my president to be the brightest, the smartest, the most imaginative, the classiest, the best person we can muster.

I'll take them as big and as brainy as they can get.

I'm sick of stupid presidents.
I'm sicker of presidents who pretend to be stupider than they really are.
I'm sick of presidents who try too hard not to be presidential.
I want a president I can be proud of.

I like the idea of a president who has worked directly with the streets.
I like the idea of that person having been there.
I can live with them enjoying arugula today.

I want a goddamn president.
Not a bowling buddy.
Not a drinking buddy.
Not a hunting buddy.
Not a poker buddy.
Not someone who will put on figurative pair of overalls to show how folksy they are.
I want a president.

It's a white collar job.
They will travel in limos.
They will travel the world.
They will meet with foreign heads of state.
They better not embarrass us by acting stupid.

This person will be my employee.
This person will be representing me on the world stage.
This person better make me look good for what I'm paying them.
This person better work their ass off.

I want a president.
I don't think it's asking too much.

Stop treating us like your buddy.
Start treating us with respect.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man walking away from a crash naked, a police meth lab mistake, and a mess at Taco Bell.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Congress' New Car Stink


Someone once said that, to make politicians more fiscally responsible, there should be a sign in every legislator's office reading, "It's Not Your Money!" In reality, the sign should read just the opposite -- because they know it's not their money, spending it freely doesn't hurt them personally.

Case in point: today's New York Times article on the cars that congressman lease with your tax dollars. There's Charles Rangel's 17-foot-long Cadillac DeVille, Bobby Rush's Lincoln Navigator, Maurice Hinchey's BMW 530i, and on and on. These car leases cost hundreds of dollars per month (Gregory Meeks drives a 2007 Lexus LS 460 that goes for $998/month!!!), but the 125 representatives who use the privilege don't have to pay a penny for it -- nor do they pay for the insurance, registration fees, maintenance, or gas.

With that kind of perk, do you think they really care about the price of gas? Think they care about the fuel efficiency of their vehicles? They're all driving luxury vehicles or SUVs, none of which get over 30 mpg. I'll bet that, since it's not money out of their own pocket, these politicians aren't even shopping around and bargaining for the best deal. I'll also bet that they're putting the more expensive premium gas in their vehicles instead of regular. When it's someone else's checkbook and price is no object, who cares?

Rep. Rangel defends his Caddy by telling the Times he frequently offers rides to constituents so they can discuss their concerns in the luxurious confines of his DeVille: "I want them to feel that they are somebody and their congressman is somebody, and when they say 'This is nice,' it feels good." My, how imperial of you, congressman!

I don't care whether he feels good when someone compliments his car, but when they do, he should at least reply, "Thanks -- you paid for it!"

If a congressman wants to drive a car that impresses people, he should buy his own -- and then drive it himself, unlike in the photo above. As for the rides, Rangel wasn't elected to be a cabbie for his constituents. We already pay for his offices in DC and his home district, where he can meet the people of his district anytime he likes. More likely, he's giving lifts to lobbyists who are used to getting special treatment from the politicians they pay for.

Ask the owner of any business that offers the leased-car perk to its employees, and they'll tell you that they're always watching the bottom line and keep a close eye on any expenses they reimburse. You don't get to go out and use any car you want, at any cost -- particularly if the company is running the kind of huge deficits our Congress continues to rack up.

Unfortunately, when it comes to politicians, there's no one playing that watchdog role, no one auditing those in power, no one reminding them that they're being spendthrifts with someone else's money.

Even more unfortunately, the only people who can change their spending ways are the very people who have the freebies. So don't hold your breath.

Hold'Em -- For Four Months

There will be a new twist in this year's World Series Of Poker. While the bulk of the main event will be played in July, the final table won't be played until November.

It seems that ESPN didn't like the world knowing who the winner was so long before they showed the beginning of the event in previous years. This time, once play gets down to the final nine, everyone will go home, and ESPN will air their coverage of the various events that make up the WSOP through August, September, and October. On November 9, the principals will return to Las Vegas and resume play until someone has all the chips, probably on November 10. Then, on November 11, ESPN will air a quickly-edited two-hour package of what has just transpired, and the new champion will get the check and the bracelet.

At first, it seems like an awkward idea, but considering the marathon sessions these players sit through, they'll no doubt relish the chance to get some rest before going back into battle around the final table. Plus, they can use that time to watch the ESPN telecasts of the earlier rounds of the Main Event to see if they can pick up a tell here and there on their opponents -- and sign some endorsement deals, too (expect every one of them to have a sponsor's logo on their shirt and hat, if not tattooed across their knuckles).

Hopefully, the added time will also give Norman Chad a chance to think up something to say besides "Bob's tournament life is on the line -- he needs a five, and a five only, to stay alive."

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a remorseful mugger, an unhappily married couple, and a watch that doesn't tell time -- on purpose.

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