Average fairy tale

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  May 3, 2006

Once upon a time, there was an ordinary fellow named Horace B. Ferretpooter, who became governor of an actual state, even though he had no qualifications except an inoffensive manner and a large quantity of roadkill stew seasoned with pine cones. He employed the former to sneak up on voters and the latter to get them to attend his campaign speeches.

In those speeches, Ferretpooter promised Great Things for the state.

“I promise,” he said, “Great Things for the state.”

Nothing makes a person drowsier than a big bowl of roadkill stew seasoned with pine cones, so nobody paid much attention to the candidate’s lack of specificity. “Great Things,” the roadkill-and-pine-cone-besotted crowds sighed in unison. “Sounds good to us.”

Which isn’t easy to sigh, particularly in concert with lots of other people.

In due course, Ferretpooter found himself being sworn into office by an important-looking person cloaked in the kind of long robe which indicates the wearer is either a judge or a cosmetologist. “Do you swear,” said the justice or hairdresser, “to do Great Things for the state?”

“I,” said Ferretpooter, “do.”

But even Things That Aren’t So Great cost some money. Obviously, Great Things would cost a lot of money. So, the governor summoned the state treasurer. “Get me,” he said, “a lot of money.”

“Alas,” said the treasurer. “There is no money. The last governor spent it all on Lesser Things, like laptop computers for school kids and wine-and-cheese receptions for visiting corporate executives. In fact, there isn’t even enough money to cover the bills that are coming due in the next biennium.” (Which turned out to be a fancy-pants way of saying two years.) “You are facing a huge structural deficit.” (Which turned out to be a hoity-toity way of saying it wasn’t an actual deficit, like the one they have in Washington, but more of a stupid prediction, like saying the Boston Bruins will be contenders next season.)

Ferretpooter was not about to be thwarted.

“I am,” he said, “not about to be thwarted.”

He summoned his aides and ordered them to prepare an Ambitious Agenda. “Make sure,” he said, “it includes Great Things.”

In short order, his aides produced plans for a new Department of Integrated Responses Initiating Glorious Opportunities (DIRIGO). To pay for it, Governor Ferretpooter announced he’d be selling off a few Inconsequential Things, such as the state liquor business and the lottery. Also, he intended to borrow most of the money needed to run the state for the next biennium or the next two years, whichever came first. In case that wasn’t enough cash, he ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to screw up its computer system so it couldn’t pay hospitals for services to Medicaid patients.

Even Ferretpooter’s critics conceded, it was an imaginative approach.

“It is,” said the critics, “an imaginative approach.”

But, they hastily added, it would bankrupt the state, while failing to accomplish Things, great or otherwise. The media seized on that opinion.

“Ow,” said the opinion. “Lemme go.”

As Governor Ferretpooter’s first term drew to a close, the news was filled with allegations he was a Boob.

“Eek!” screamed a headline in the Pressed Herring. “Ferretpooter is a Boob!”

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  Topics: News Features , Media, Television, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,  More more >
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