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Rough diamond

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.

It is true. The primary arguments that prevent government budget cutting are “it’s just a drop in the bucket” and “if it saves just one life.” But it occurs to me there are a couple of other arguments, one of which we shall call, “Look at this diamond!”

In this ploy, the bureaucrat looking to save his budget (and perhaps his job) stands before the great heap of waste that is his agency and holds forth a dazzling gem.

“Never mind the pile of dross behind me,” he says. “Just look at this diamond, which will be lost if you cut my budget.”

Thus, you have advocates of public broadcasting holding up the diamond of “Sesame Street,” and telling us, “If you cut the budget, you’ll kill Big Bird! And please don’t look at that mound of junk behind me (including anything involving Bill Moyers).”

Another class of argument isn’t really an argument at all; it is called, “We’re going to hurt you!” In this ploy, advocates say, “You may cut our budget, but if you do, we’re going to lop the programs that benefit you.”

This may be considered the dark side of “look at this diamond,” but I think it can stand as its own category. Can you think of other anti-cutting tactics?

Speaking of ”look at this diamond,” who didn’t feel a lump in the throat when Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., took to the Senate floor last week to defend poetry? If “mean-spirited” Republicans succeed in cutting funding for the National Endowment of the Humanities, he said, the annual cowboy poetry festival in Elko, Nev., will take a turn for the verse.

The endowment, said Reid, “is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.”

Well, they would exist; they just wouldn’t go to Elko. However, we take the senator’s point, and we offer the following by way of solace:

When all the dogies are abed,
The campfire down to ember,
We tell our tales of Harry’s spread –
‘Least, those we can remember;
How Harry tried to pay the wage
Of every cowboy bard,
Those napping in the fragrant sage,
Those riding nighttime guard;
How Harry fought the GOP,
That vicious, outlaw band,
That threatened cowboy poetry
And arts throughout the land.
He saddled up his trusty mount
And rode forth in his duster.
He’d call the bad guys to account,
That stalwart budget buster.
Although the Senate had his back,
The House he could not wrangle,
And though he had the finest tack,
His cinch broke in that tangle.
He fell – out on a washout’s rim;
With him poetic hopes were sunk
But every night we drink to him,
And honor Harry’s bunk.

Mike Huckabee is the first potential GOP presidential candidate to be knocked out of contention, having had the effrontery to suggest a movie star’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy was somehow inappropriate.

“We should have known better than to let him say that,” said disappointed Huckabee spokesman Howard Bashford. “With a third of the babies in the United States being born ‘O-W,’ we were alienating a huge bloc of potential voters.

“Besides, who should say whether one type of family is better than another? As a matter of fact, my own partner, Jill Poke, is expecting in June.”

After congratulating Bashford, we asked if he and Poke intended to marry.

“We don’t need a ceremony or to swear an oath to be a committed couple,” he said. “It’s enough that we love each other and know we’re going to love our new little girl. Parenthood is going to be such … such … fun!”

“Well, Howard,” we said, “that’s very true, but a baby also can put stress on a relationship. You know, lack of sleep, illness, disruption of your work schedule, the need to share the burdens of child rearing.”

“Burdens?” said Howard, perplexed. “What burdens? We have it all worked out. We’ll each spend an hour a day with the baby, and an hour with both of us and the baby, and we’ll take turns supervising our nanny. It’s all good.”

“But what if you and Jill eventually decide to split?” we asked. “It’s easy if you have no legal bond. Do you want your little girl to grow up with separated parents?”

“Look,” said Howard impatiently, “we have plenty of money. No matter what happens, she’ll be well provided for and will grow up just fine.”

“Kind of like Charlie Sheen?” we asked, “or maybe Lindsay Lohan?”