Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,

I’m trying to figure out the deal with this bailout vote. If you were in Congress, would you vote for it?

Cal in Coalinga

Hey Cal,

I do take one measure of solace in watching the debate over the bailout this last week: California legislators are not alone in their penchant for doing nothing in the face of incredible stress. The political impotence of our top leaders, not to mention our financial system, has been a true eye opener for me. Whether you call it courage or recalcitrance I suppose depends on where you’re standing, and how much you’ve had to drink.

Personally, I love times like this. I mean, I don’t love the fact that our economy seems to be locked in some kind of unholy death spiral. But for sure drama, it’s hard to beat a vote where Darrell Issa and Barbara Lee are holding hands on one side of the vote, staring down John Campbell and Nancy Pelosi on the other. Somebody forgot to tell these guys which team they were on. Watching that first bill die on the House floor this week, I felt like I was watching a rerun of Bum Fights instead of C-SPAN.

I’m not sure what that means either. The point is, things in Washington this week were about as mixed up as Nicole Parra at a Democratic Convention. That is to say, downright screwy.

And it wasn’t exactly encouraging watching our two leaders-in-waiting respond with all the courage of a can of soup. The two of them were both trying to score points for taking bold strokes while running for cover, waiting to see which way the political winds were blowing.

As for my views on the bailout, I don’t take any great pleasure in making up for all the mistakes people made over the last few years – mistakes that proved to be very lucrative to many mortgage brokers and commodity traders. Hell, I can think of a lot of things and people who need a bailout before Wall Street big wigs.

Don Perata needs a bailout (or perhaps a pardon would do). Sarah Palin needs a bailout (if she can’t stand up to Katie Couric, how in the hell is she expected to handle Ahmadinejad?) But spending $700 billion to clean up the mess of the adrenaline-fueled punks who turned Wall St. into the craps table at the Bellagio wasn’t exactly high on my to-do list this year.

But votes like this one are what politics is about at its core – sucking it up and taking it. Since we seem to have an economic system that is dependent on human psychology, it’s fair to say that Wall Street is officially off its meds. Sometimes in politics, it’s not a matter of what you do, it’s that fact that you did something. This, apparently, is one of those times. Time to get the tranquilizer gun.

But if we’re going to bail ‘em out, I suggest some kind of recompense for the American people. Sure, we may not get the money back, but maybe we can get a little entertainment out of the deal. How about, in exchange of bailing these suckers out, we require each CEO who takes the deal to appear on some kind of Survivor-style reality show? Or maybe it should be more like that Schwarzenegger classic, the Running Man, where the losing contestants lose more than just their dignity. For $700 billion, we oughta at least be able to satisfy some bloodlust.

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