The iron has never been much hotter in regard to reforming lobbying laws, and in Washington there is considerable talk of doing so. Whether this will be transformed into action remains to be seen, but in Arkansas, we don’t even get the talk. It’s as though Arkansas legislators are so indebted to or awed by the lobbyists that they dare not speak the name of reform. If a public-interest group suggests restricting the activities of lobbyists – their providing of gifts, meals, travel and campaign contributions to lawmakers – legislators rush to explain that such restrictions would be undesirable and unworkable. Governor Huckabee, who believes the Lord loves a cheerful receiver, is not one to champion restrictions on gifts from special interests either.
Any unbiased observer who has seen the legislature flouting the public interest while kowtowing to powerful lobbies – the Chamber of Commerce, the utilities, the Medical Society – knows that reform is desirable. And it’s workable if the legislators choose to make it work, if they enact stronger ethics laws and then simply comport themselves as law-abiding citizens, the way they expect the rest of us to. If incumbents won’t take up the cause of lobby reform, maybe some of the new candidates for the legislature, not yet a part of the smelly system, will do so. It would be a popular issue, we suspect. And if enough of the newcomers signed on, they might even embarrass their elders into action.
According to Andy Borowitz, writing in Funny Times, President Bush has challenged the actress Geena Davis to a debate. Davis plays the first female president in a TV series, “Commander in Chief.” Borowitz quotes a Bush aide as saying the real (more or less) president is upset that Davis’ approval ratings are higher than his. Davis declined the challenge, on the ground that she has “important work to do,” Borowitz writes, but “Attempting to change her mind, Mr. Bush said he was willing to debate the fictitious president on a complete range of fictitious issues, such as Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.”
Funny Times, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, is filled with stuff like that. Not all the humor is political, though much of it is. The monthly tabloid was founded in the dark Reagan years and has survived merrily into the even darker Bush II years. It becomes more valuable with each passing day, as the corporate-owned mainstream media draw ever closer to the corporate-owned government, intolerant of anyone who pokes fun at either. Read Funny Times, and for a little while, sunshine breaks through the media clouds.
It looks like Jack Abramoff will join Ted Bundy in the Young Republicans Hall of Fame.