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Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

We heard from the U.S. Census Bureau last week. The people counters sent us a letter telling us we would be hearing from the U.S. Census Bureau this week.

We snickered about this to census spokeswoman Jill Poke, who was not amused.

“This is a marketing approach that works very well,” she said haughtily. “If people were not told to expect their census questionnaire, they might ignore it when it arrives. As our broadcast advertising points out, without the census, your local school district won’t know how many students to expect next year.”

We asked, “How did the district know how many students to expect this year?”

“Well, they know how many they have now,” she said, “and extrapolating from that number, they … Hey! That’s a trick question!”

Your tax dollars, etc.

Chris Bateman, a columnist for our local newspaper, the Sonora Union-Democrat, is a Stanford man. However, even a Cal man can forgive that fact because he is a heck of a journalist. A case in point was his opus last week on the “endangered” valley-elderberry longhorn beetle.

Bateman detailed how it cost the Lowe’s home improvement store $40,200 to transplant two elderberry bushes down to the San Joaquin Valley. This was to preserve beetle habitat, and never mind that no longhorn beetles were evicted from the Lowe’s site and none has moved into their destination, where more than 6,000 bushes are thriving in an “elderberry bank.”

That “bank” is providing habitat should any longhorn beetles examine the model homes and decide to set up housekeeping. This very well could happen, because experts say there are so many of the insects the species should be taken off the endangered list.

If you need to move a protected bush, you can buy “elderberry credits” from the Fish and Wildlife Service for about $3,500 each. Lowe’s bought seven credits for $24,500 and spent $15,700 to transplant the bushes.

As Bateman noted, “Hauling bushes to the valley in a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud would have been cheaper.”

Thou shalt not etc.

Remember Ronald Reagan’s “11th commandment”? California GOP gubernatorial hopefuls Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner have forgotten the admonition, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

Whitman, the former eBay chief, has been beating up Poizner, the state’s insurance commissioner, with TV and Internet ads that cite such things as his political contributions to Democrats – and never mind that Whitman also gave to Dems.

Poizner has cited Whitman’s failure to vote – or register – until 2002, and petulantly asked the FBI to investigate an e-mail from a Whitman operative who suggested Poizner step out of the race.

All this makes the most grown-up-acting gubernatorial candidate (drum roll) Jerry Brown!

The Democratic state attorney general, and California’s governor from 1973 through 1982, is viewed as a “progressive” by some on the left. This means they think he’s still the wild hare who peopled his administration with a collection of weirdos.

But Brown proved himself a pretty mainstream, law-and-order guy during his two terms as mayor of Oakland, and as gubernatorial candidate has pledged to work with “business people, union people and tea-party people” on the Golden State’s intractable budget.


Little noted in the mainstream media was a recent Zogby poll survey on “What bothers me most about Washington.”

Agreeing with the statement “What bothers me most about Washington is that people there think they are smarter than the rest of us,” were half of all respondents, including 87 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents.

Only 15 percent of Democrats said that was the case, with 74 percent of Dems agreeing that “what bothers me most about Washington is partisan bickering.”

The obvious conclusion: People in Washington are smarter than 85 percent of Democrats.


Lindsay Lohan’s lawsuit over her alleged depiction in the E*Trade baby commercials reminds me of the time I almost sued over New Line Cinema’s depiction of me in the John Travolta movie, “Michael.”

Clearly, the title role’s archangel depicted me, as I was and am large, strong and angelic, but I am not slovenly, as my character was portrayed in the film. And I’m as certain as Lohan that anybody hearing the name “Michael” would think of the famous me.

At last, I gave up the idea of litigation because I’ve always enjoyed Travolta’s acting and didn’t wish to cause him distress. However, if New Line has any ideas about a remake, watch out.

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