So when we were last together, as you all know, I announced that I'm fake running for Congress in Washington State's 8th District - and that I'm doing it because, so far as I know, the best way to get a candidate to truly "come out liberal" is to be a fake candidate and to make good and sure The Campaign isn't out chasing money when it's being done.
Having made the announcement, we're already making our first campaign trip - and oddly enough, our first trip as a congressional candidate will take us to Madison, Wisconsin, where we'll link up with a few folks who, apparently inspired by me, have taken to the streets in a very big way.
When we get there I'll need a parka, a nice hat, a thermos of coffee, and a big fat Sharpie - so let me go get it all together, and then we'll be on our way.
All sober enquiries after truth, ancient and modern, Pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity consists in virtue. Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, Mahomet, not to mention authorities really sacred, have agreed in this.
If there is a form of government then, whose principle and foundation is virtue, will not every sober man acknowledge it better calculated to promote the general happiness than any other form?
Fear is the foundation of most governments; but is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men, in whose breasts it predominates, so stupid, and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it.
--From "Thoughts on Government", by John Adams, 1776
Now for those who did not know, I am personally responsible for the marches and demonstrations that have been taking place in Madison, Wisconsin for the past several days.
What happened was that, just about two weeks ago, I posted a story at Uppity Wisconsin asking, literally, "Where's Our Tahrir Square?" and obviously inspired by my posting and Scott Walker's mad rush to power, the citizens of Wisconsin have responded to the call, and now the fight is on.
I need to get over there immediately and see what else I can get going - and if I can have this kind of impact in a state where I don't even live, obviously my fake candidacy is off to a very, very, good start.
So the first thing I had to do was to arrange transit to Madison - as you'll recall the campaign does not accept donations, so no private jet for this fake candidate - but lucky for me I have a few connections in "low places."
As it happens, there's a full shipping container of Oxycodone that arrives at the Port of Seattle every week from a certain Asian gray-market supplier, and that shipping container has to be in the back parking lot of Excellence In Broadcasting's Network Broadcast Origination Center in Palm Beach, Florida by 6:13 AM the following Monday morning. If it doesn't make it, The Rush Limbaugh Show cannot go on the air that week.
I know the two drivers of that truck, and before 10 PM we were already passing through George, Washington (and, of course, the Martha Inn Cafe) and getting ready to cross the Columbia River on I-90.
It's a late night driving across Eastern Washington, Idaho, and Western Montana, and before long the talk turned to bribery.
Tendei and Jenna (the truck drivers) wanted to know how I would get along in "the other" Washington, what with all the corruption and all, and that's when we got to talking about my revolutionary new "corruption policy."
"Well I'll tell ya what" I said over the pretty much constant sound of Jenna playing "Bejeweled" from the desk in the sleeper (there's a satellite internet connection and I think Jenna may have stolen a few of those Oxycodones for herself) "the way I see it we already have bribery. We just call it campaign donations or soft money or corporate free speech or whatever, so what I propose to do is just make it all open and transparent.
"Here's what I mean: in the 112th Congress, Republicans are supposedly going to add statements to bills that explain where the Constitutional foundation for the bill comes from; what I'm going to do is add a statement to every bill that I introduce that explains just who paid for the bill, and how much."
"No more moves!" Jenna started yelling from the back. "That... sucks!"
"Anyway," I said to Tendei, ignoring the sound of Jenna's mouse smacking against the desk, "in my bills, it would say something like 'Platinum Contributors for this bill ($1,000,000) are the US Chamber of Commerce, Lockheed Martin, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Gold Contributors ($500,000) are Boeing, Xe, and the EG&G Division of the URS Corporation.'
"So we'd list everyone, and that way you'd know who was paying for whatever hustle was about to be put on you.
"I'm also thinking about 'Bill Sponsorships,' which would allow naming rights for bills to be purchased by either interested corporations, private individuals, or groups.
"For example, if we decided to lower the blood alcohol count for drunk driving in National Parks and other federal lands, we might end up with something like the, uh, the 'Jack Daniels Cares About Drunk Driving Act of 2011"... but we'd be taking bids from all interested parties, and we'd probably need to get a least a million for something like that."
Tendei looked over from the driver's seat: "But what about the bribes that get paid where no bill ever gets written?"
"Great question. What I'm thinking is that we set up a page on my Congressional website that works as a 'Bribe Tracker'. When we get approached by a lobbyist who is looking to give us something, we put up a listing, and then if the bribe - sorry, 'legal donation' - actually gets paid, we update the listing, so everyone knows who is paying what.
"We could also add an EBay-like function, again, so that we can take bids on some bills when an auction looks like the best way to bump the price.
"But all that only accounts for the incoming money. My voters want to know where the money is going to go after it comes in - and that's where I'm really gonna get crazy.
"I have two ideas for where the money could go. The first, of course, is right into the federal Treasury, to lower the deficit each fiscal year we run the program.
"But the other idea is to let charities 'bid' for the money. In other words, charities would submit an explanation of what they would do with the money and how many private dollars they could 'match' for each one of ours and the best bids win the money.
"So what I'm going to do is let my voters decide what to do; The Campaign is setting up a poll and, as your fake humble public servant, I'm gonna let the decision be yours."
Tendei looked impressed but it was getting pretty late for both of us, with pretty much all of Montana yet to cross and Jenna looking to take the wheel for a few hundred more miles so today's campaign manifesto ends with Tendei taking the bottom bunk and the fake candidate taking the top.