The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO) has been fielding phone calls and faxes asking what Senator John McCain meant when he said the fundamentals of our economy were sound while Rome burned around him. While it is not our job to interpret events, merely to point out the readily apparent, we can only say this about the venerable Senator's statement: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, odds are it's going to like the water and fly south in the winter. In our experience, once you make a plain statement that needs no interpretation, no amount of "what I really meant to say when I made a perfectly unambiguous statement" spin-doctoring will un-ring that bell.

Unfortunately, DOPOTO has over the years discovered that politicians think that voters are pretty stupid, and often with much justification. Case in point: we are now near completing President Bush The Younger's second term in office. The first time around the message was that Al Gore was too smart for his own good and too closely associated with another really smart guy, Bill Clinton and his girly-man peace and prosperity agenda. The second time around the message that John Kerry, a genuine war hero, was really a coward while the president, a man who deserted his military post during that same war, was the real hero. In a monumental failure to see the obvious, the electorate was fooled twice.

The results? As stated above, we don't interpret events, but do urge people to observe was actually did happen as opposed to what somebody tells you happened. If the two accounts jibe, that person is not a liar or out of touch. If, on the other hand, hard reality and glib explanations are miles apart, the obvious conclusion is that this person is either a liar or completely delusional, and for The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious, "obvious" is the operational word here. Our motto is simply this: "What is, is." That's how most of us operate in our personal lives. If we didn't we'd all be the proud owners of the Brooklyn Bridge, lose our paychecks at three-card Monte games every week and get hit by cars we didn't notice because somebody told us they really weren't there. Which, thankfully, is not the case.

This is not to say that things cannot change. "What is" is a fluid state of affairs. Things change all the time. Two weeks ago this nation had 5 world class private investment banks. Now it has one. Of the other four, three were bought out by the government and the fourth went bankrupt, which leads to an obvious question: Who exactly was it at Lehman Brothers that pissed off the Bush The Younger administration so much? They were in better financial shape than a couple of the other banks that were "saved" and yet they were allowed to sink like a stone while the government threw away a trillion of our tax dollars to prop up the others, the bad debt they generated now becoming our bad debt, a huge chunk of our national budget.

And many literal minded Americans who are drowning in debt are wondering when the Federal government will step in to pay off all their credit card debts, their mortgage, their car loan and their backlog of unpaid taxes and utility bills. DOPOTO advises such individuals not to hold their breath. Unless of course they were so irresponsible that their unmet obligations add up to hundreds of billions of dollars. Then perhaps you can expect the Secretary of the Treasury to hand you a duplicate key to Fort Knox like he did for the president's wealthy buddies in the finance and oil industry.

The Department is also fielding endless inquiries about the current presidential campaign, and why Senator McCain's people are trying to out-dumb Bush The Younger. Simple. It worked before. Twice. In the past two presidential elections, it was not the smart guy who got elected. To emphasize this strategy, McCain picked the dumbest Vice Presidential candidate ever, Sarah Palin, a woman who makes Republicans nostalgic for the days when Dan Quayle was a heartbeat away from power.

This same campaign is the one who would have you believe that Barack Obama, a man raised on Food Stamps by a single mother, rising through poverty to gain a first class education and paying off his own student loans is an "elitist," while John McCain, a man so wealthy he forgets how many homes he owns and is on a first name basis with billionaires is the "man of the people." And one can make an argument that he is a man of the people, just not a convincing one. A man of the very rich people, perhaps. This is how stupid the Republicans think Americans are, that they can't see what is so painfully obvious. And it is the Department's official position that this "dumb" strategy would have worked if it was not for the collapse of America's financial system, an event that sort of emphasizes the wisdom of electing a smart guy as our president this time around. Ignore the obvious at your peril.

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