Recently, in a deviation from Standard Journalism Procedure, I've been talking with members of the public. We journalists generally avoid members of the public because they always tell us that we get everything wrong, although in fact what they're usually talking about is insignificant errors such as identifying James Baker as "the governor of Connecticut," when he is technically the mayor of Connecticut.
So usually we journalists prefer to obtain our information about the public by watching it walk past our cafeteria windows. "The public appears guardedly optimistic today," we'll say. Or: "Stop the presses! The public appears to be in a recession!"
But lately, because of car trouble, I have been in very close contact with the public, at least the part of it that operates tow trucks, and I've been able to "dig up" the following major "scoop":
The public is fed up with politicians.
Yes. If you don't believe me, just look around you (Not now, you moron! At the end of the sentence!) and you'll see subtle yet unmistakable signs of voter dissatisfaction:
* In survey after survey, the public ranks "politician," as a profession, between "arsonist" and "hookworm."
* Many politicians are unable to appear in daylight because the public throws rocks at them. They're forced to campaign in the dead of night, sneaking into voters' houses, creeping into the nurseries, hastily kissing babies and then sprinting off into the darkness.
* Eighty-seven percent of the members of the U.S. Congress now wear special armored socks because they keep getting bitten by their own dogs.
Yes, our elected leaders are "feeling the heat," but is this really fair? Should the public tar all of the apples in the political barrel with the same broad brush just because a few rotten eggs are crying over spilt milk? Of course not. The truth is that there are a great many politicians who are honest, trustworthy, intelligent, hard-working, decent and competent. Unfortunately, they are all located on the planet Zoombah. The ones here on Earth are dumpsterheads.
Consider, for example, their recent concerted effort to reduce the pesky federal budget deficit, which, shockingly, continues to mount despite the fact that both major political parties have issued sternly worded position papers against it. Day after day, week after week, the top brains of Congress and the Bush administration sat in a conference room, eating prune Danish supplied by the Prune Danish Division of the Bureau of Pastries of the U.S. Department of Refreshments at a cost of $2,350 per slice.
"What should we do about this pesky budget deficit?" the leaders asked, crumbs of concern dribbling from their mouths. "How can we reduce it? If only we had an idea! If only we could think of . . ."
"Spend less money, you cretins!!" shouted a group of cockroaches, who had been listening from the floor and managed to figure out the solution despite the handicap of not being top political brains. Unfortunately, however, our political leadership is not responsive to cockroaches.
So the government does not appear to be working, and the public is sick of politicians, with their bloated campaign budgets and their slick, phony TV commercials. But the tide is starting to turn. That is the beauty of democracy. More and more politicians, finally getting the message, are using their bloated campaign budgets to produce slick, phony TV commercials in which they deny that they are politicians. You've probably seen these:
(The screen shows a candidate with his sleeves rolled up, pretending to talk with a group of factory workers.)
Announcer: Morton Lamprey is not a politician. Morton Lamprey has no interest in politics. That's why Morton Lamprey spent $287,000 to make this commercial.
Candidate: I'm Morton Lamprey, and because I am not a politician I constantly hang out with ordinary workers, informally rolling up my sleeves and holding exactly the same opinions as they do about everything.
Announcer: Let's help Morton Lamprey continue the fight against insider "fat-cat" politics-as-usual that he's been waging for 17 consecutive terms in office.
(One of the workers throws a rock, which bounces harmlessly off the candidate's hair spray.)
Candidate (to an aide): Have that worker shot.
Announcer: Morton Lamprey. He's just like you, assuming that you have a media adviser. Morton Lamprey. Notice how sincerely I say his name. I also do the Infiniti commercials.
So we're definitely seeing some meaningful reform in the area of political advertising. Some radicals, however, feel we need to go still further, and actually improve the quality of government, via simple, common-sense political reforms such as becoming a British colony again. Another increasingly popular idea is to give politicians terms of a specified length, which I think is an excellent idea. Twelve years sounds about right to me.
But no parole.