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Barry, Dave, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
I RECENTLY received some very exciting mail. And I'm not talking about a sleazy letter from some magazine-selling outfit claiming I won a sweepstakes. I'm talking about a sleazy letter from the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Trent Lott.
Trent - I call him "Trent"; he calls me "David" - informs me that I "have been nominated as one of Florida's 15 representatives on the Republican Presidential Roundtable." Trent explains that the Roundtable is "a unique group of only 400 Americans," and that "recently, a vacancy occurred"; he's hoping I will "consider stepping forward to fill it."
"It's not often in life that one is called upon to lead," notes Trent. This is true. The last time I was called upon to lead was when I was a counselor at Camp Sharparoon, and I led a cabin of 12-year-olds on a nature hike directly into the heart of what had to be North America's largest bee colony. That was in 1966, and the swelling is just now subsiding on some of those campers. Of course, the Republican Presidential Roundtable is not interested in a nature hike. It is interested, according to Trent's letter, in obtaining my "personal help and assistance in shaping and driving our Republican national agenda." I do have some thoughts on that. I think that Item No. 1 on the Republican national agenda would be to introduce a bill that would enable the Senate Majority Leader to change his first name from "Trent" to something that makes him sound more like the kind of strong legislative stud we want running our Senate, such as "Dirk" or "Buck" or - this would make me very proud to be an American - "Mojo." My other suggestion for the national agenda occurred to me recently when I read about a plan by the federal government to pay hospitals NOT to train doctors. According to a New York Times article that I swear I am not making up, the federal government is going to pay 41 teaching hospitals in New York state $400 million of your tax dollars to stop training so many doctors, thereby stemming "a growing surplus of doctors." Perhaps your reaction to this program is: "Hey, if there's such a surplus of doctors, how come whenever I try to see one, I have to sit in the waiting room long enough to watch `Rocky' and all 14 sequels?" This shows why you are an ordinary dirtball taxpayer, as opposed to a health-care expert. The Times says that health-care experts greeted this plan as "brilliant." Bear in mind that, in their field, they spend a lot of time around drugs. My own reaction to the plan is that it would be perfect with one minor modification: Instead of paying the $400 million to teaching hospitals, we should pay it to law schools, on the condition that they promise to stop producing lawyers, which already outnumber humans in some cities. …