The Daily Reckoning's Essentialist Humor Files

The Bush Lightbulb Joke!

How many members of the Bush administration does it take to replace a lightbulb?

The answer is 10.

1. One to deny that a lightbulb needs to be changed;
2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the lightbulb needs to be changed;
3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the lightbulb;
4. One to tell the nations of the world that they either favor changing the lightbulb or support darkness;
5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new lightbulb;
6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing
on a step ladder under the banner “Lightbulb Change Accomplished”;
7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally “in the dark”;
8. One to viciously smear #7;
9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong lightbulb-changing policy all along;
10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a lightbulb and screwing the country.

Courtesy, Charles Goyette


New Element Found

The recent hurricanes and skyrocketing oil and gasoline prices helped to prove the existence of a new element. In early October 2005, a major research institution announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named “Governmentium.”

Governmentium (Gv) has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.  These 312 particles are held together by forces called ‘morons’ which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called ‘peons.’ Since Gv has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Gv causes one reaction to take over four days to complete, when it would normally take less than a second!

Gv has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay; but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.  In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming ‘isodopes.’  This characteristic of moron promotion leads most scientists to believe that Gv is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration.  This hypothetical quantity is referred to as ‘Critical Morass.’

When catalyzed with money, Gv becomes “Administratium’ (Am) – an element which radiates just as much energy as Gv, since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.


A billion

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but someone did a good job of putting that figure into perspective:

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Washington spends it.


“Make The Pie Higher”
by George W. Bush

This is a poem made up entirely of actual quotes from George W. Bush. The quotes have been arranged only for aesthetic purposes, by Washington Post writer Richard Thompson.

by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It’s a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet become more few?

How many hands have I shaked?
They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.

I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where
our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize Society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!


Kenny Boy

A city boy, Kenny, moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.

The next day the farmer drove up and said, “Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.”

Kenny replied, “Well then, just give me my money back.”

The farmer said, “Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.”

Kenny said, “OK then, just unload the donkey.”

The farmer asked, “What ya gonna do with him?”

Kenny: “I’m going to raffle him off.”

Farmer: “You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!”

Kenny: “Sure I can. Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he is dead.”

A month later the farmer met up with Kenny and asked, “What happened with that dead donkey?”

Kenny: “I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $898.00.”

Farmer: “Didn’t anyone complain?”

Kenny: “Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.”

Kenny grew up and eventually became the chairman of Enron.

Demogogues Answer The Chicken Question

Why did the chicken cross the road? Well, it depends who you ask:

To steal a job from a decent, hardworking American.

Because the chicken was gay! Isn’t it obvious? Can’t you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the “other side.” That’s what “they” call it-the “other side.” Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And, if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too.  I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like “the other side.” That chicken should not be free to cross the road. It’s as plain and simple as that.

Did the chicken cross the road?
Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes! The chicken crossed the road,
but why it crossed, I’ve not been told!

To die. In the rain.

I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross
roads without having their motives called into question.

In my day, we didn’t ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

It was a historical inevitability.

This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it.

To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

You saw it cross the road with your own eyes. How many more chickens have to cross before you believe it?

The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

I have just released eChicken 2000, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook -and Internet Explorer is an inextricable part of eChicken.

Did the chicken really cross the road or did the road move beneath the chicken?

I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What do you mean by “chicken”? Could you define “chicken” please?

I don’t think I should have to answer that question.

The road, you will see, represents the black man. The chicken crossed the “black man” in order to trample him and keep him down.

And God came down from the heavens, and He said unto the chicken, “Thou shalt cross the road.” And the chicken crossed the road, and there was much rejoicing.

I missed one?


You’re A Mean One, Mister Bear
By Dr. Obtuse

Sung, as you might expect, to the tune of You’re A Mean One Mister Grinch

You’re a mean one Mr. Bear
You really are a heel
You’re as evil as a margin call
And as slippery as an eel

But, according to First Gartner Group
You’re a trillion-dollar steal

You’re a monster, Mr. Bear
Your hearts an exploding Cole
Your brain is full of Spiders (XLB)
You’ve got Barron’s in your soul,
Mr. Bear

I wouldn’t touch you, with a
2,820 point post-election poll

You’re a vile one, Mr. Bear
You have Crisco (PG:NYSE) in your smile
You have all of the tender sweetness
Of a Amazon (AMZN:Nasdaq) crocodile,
Mr. Bear

Given a choice of rivers
I’d have to pick da Nile

You’re a foul one, Mr. Bear
You’re a ponzi, margined punk
Your heart is full of cold-call brokers
Your soul is full of chumps,
Mr. Bear

The three words that describe you,
Are, and I quote: “Shrink, Shrank, Junk.”

You’re a teaser, Mr. Bear
You’re the death of bouncing cats
Your breath’s a sad New Market burp
of brats
Mr. Bear

Your soul is a black pile of greed
Overflowing with festering tulip bulbs,
South sea bubbles and money dreams gone splat

You nauseate me, Mr. Bear
With a nauseous CNBC television
Pengiun dance of market outperform super-buy
Crooked broker bonus Ethernet widget
and porn

You’re a Wired Red Herring sandwich with DSL loops
And cobalt rambus juice,
Mr. Bear


Once Upon A Time In America

I wish somebody would invent a transporter, the kind those humorless drones on Startrek use. Or find a way to get to Puerto Rico by dog sled. These days, air travel makes me look longingly at Greyhound buses.

It makes me look longingly at being dragged behind a motorcycle.

Now, let me tell you how it used to be to ride in an airplane. And no, I’m not imagining the past as a roseate time when everything was better and Elvis ruled the earth. Lots of things weren’t better. The advantages of polio were limited. Dentistry was at a Cambodian level. But air travel was lots pleasanter. How it worked: You walked out and got on the airplane.

That was all.

No magnetometers, weird beeping gateways, x-ray machines, occasionally surly functionally illiterate third-world affirmative-action prison guards to fumble through your baggage, no nitrate sniffers, no putting your cell phone, change, belt buckle, and fillings in a little plastic basket.

I got to Dulles about three hours early for a flight to Puerto Rico and St. Maarten, knowing that these days anything can screw up, and carrying six hundred pounds of scuba gear and a duffel bag full of tee-shirts and a wet-suit top. Equipment is important in diving.

It’s a buckle sport, like rock climbing or jumping out of airplanes. Women dive because they enjoy looking at fish. Men don’t care about fish. They just want to snap lots of complicated parts together.

Intimidating warnings echoed hollowly from the loudspeakers about being blown up. Like everybody else, I screen it out. I expect to be blown up, take it in my stride. Usually the announcements say, over and over, that if you park your car unattended for a nanosecond, it will be towed away and given to a bomb-disposal unit to be blown up. Oh well. It was just a BMW. Another one says don’t put your bags down and go to the john, or they’ll be given to the bomb-disposal unit and blown up.

Then there’s the one saying that disagreeable panhandling cultists are not sponsored by the airport. Why, I wondered, doesn’t the bomb-disposal unit take them out and blow them up? That would be useful. But no. The Supreme Court says we have to put up with the larcenous little snits, because they are Expressing Themselves.

How did we get here? To the Fear State, I mean? How many of us notice that we are here? (Maybe lots: I don’t claim exclusive recognition of the obvious.) We’re turning into an anti-terror society. I can’t go to my bank now without having my ID checked pointlessly by an inattentive minimum-wage rentaguard as I come in the door.

Next I waited forever in a long line of people resignedly kicking their baggage in front of them to get to the American counter. A bright eighth-grader could probably come up with a faster way to check people in, but never mind. The American lady was perfectly agreeable – most people in airports are, actually – and asked me had anyone given me anything to carry, etc. Translated, this meant, “Are you carrying a powerful bomb or a cleverly fabricated dispenser of nerve gas without knowing it?” Which of course made me think that if I wasn’t,
somebody else must be. Oh good.

Off I went to the security gate, staggering under the six hundred pounds of scuba gear. You can’t check two grand of dive toys because they’ll be stolen. They’ll be stolen because (a) if morality were oil, this country would be a couple of quarts low, and (b) disciplining crooked baggage handlers would be ethnic discrimination. (Finns. Those wretches. They’ll steal anything. I’ll bet that’s what you were thinking.)

I was walking carefully in hopes that my pants wouldn’t actually fall off. I’m serious. My belt buckle always sets off the weird beeping gateway, so I had it in my bag, along with change, watch, and keys.

Otherwise I’d have to stand with my arms out as if I had a crucifixion fetish while I got wanded down to see whether I had illegal nail clippers with me. (I picture myself grabbing a stew and hollering at the pilot, “Give me this bird, big boy, or so help me I’ll clip her nails.”)

Things could have been worse. If I’d had a metal plate in my skull, I’d have had to take it out.

The security folk have two new tricks at security gates. One is to make you take your shoes off so they can stick them in an explosives-sniffer or x-ray whazzit. I can’t exactly blame them.

Some idiot did get on a plane with explosive shoes. OK. But I’m waiting for a woman to be caught with a bra full of Semtex, or a guy with an exploding jockstrap. (If I were a terrorist, personally I’d go with the nail clippers, but I’m squeamish.) After that, hooboy, we’ll have some really great searches. Stick around.

I was wearing tropical flipflops precisely to avoid being foot-searched: See? Just toes, no sticks of dynamite, no wires, timers, grenades. It didn’t work. They still tdeshod me and stuck the things in some unfortunate machine.

The other trick is random searches, which tends to mean me. Maybe it’s the Harley shirt. There is, after all, a clear pattern of Harley guys who drive airplanes into buildings.

Actually, I think it’s social consciousness.

Overwhelmingly the terrorists have been Mohammedan males, moody representatives of a dysfunctional civilization that peaked in the twelfth century and knows it. Now, since these loons are known to be very high risks for blowing things up, it might make sense to focus on them in searches.

Ah, but this would be profiling. It might offend terrorists. So we randomly search people we know not to be terrorists, thus avoiding profiling. See? It’s like losing your watch under a street light, but looking for it in a dark alley.

Oh well.

Finally I staggered aboard the great silver bird, by main force and awkwardness stuffed the six hundred pounds of scuba gear into an overhead bin, and sat in the cramped, compressive little seat with my feet in my pockets. The guy next to me pulled out a magazine and started reading about Jackie O’s life in the Kennedy family compound at Hyenas Port in Massachusetts.

Early Sixties. No terror state. You just walked out to the airplane and got on.

By Fred Reed


A Strategic Suggestion for the “Empire of Debt” Documentary
by Dan Denning

The DR gang back in Baltimore and London, and the Rude Awakening axis-of-surfing in New York are soliciting suggestions for a documentary about Empire of Debt. I’ve got one: model it on Easy Rider.

Who needs Bernanke and Greenspan when you can have Bonner and Wiggin? The movie begins with Bill and Addison stuffing copies of EOD in the saddle bags of their hogs in Mt. Vernon Square in Baltimore.

Bill will be playing Captain America, or Wyatt, played by Peter Fonda in the original. We’ll outfit him a leather jacket with Confederate flag on the back. His helmet will be painted like the French tricolour. And before leaving Baltimore, he’ll fill the tear-drop shaped gas tank (painted like the Stars and Stripes) with $10k in $20 St. Gaudens gold double eagle coins (the secret currency.)

Addison will play Billy, played by Dennis Hopper in the original. He will be in charge of this road trip, and ride a hog painted in red and gold racing flames, like the color of Financial Reckoning Day.

The trip begins in Baltimore, where it all started anyway, but stops first in New York to pick up Eric Fry before heading down to the gold conference in New Orleans. Along the way, the trio will try not to run afoul of the crypto-fascist ideology creeping into American politics. They will spread a gospel of four Gs, “gold, guns, god, and guitars.”

Eric, drawing on his California roots and channelling Jack Nicholson, will re-deliver his mounted sermon from anywhere the trio stops. It will go something like this, with a nod to the original script by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.

When asked what the people at Agora and the Daily Reckoning are really like, he’ll say:

“Well, they are people, just like us…from within our own solar system. Except that their society is more highly evolved. They don’t have no wars. They got no monetary system. They don’t have any leaders, because each man is a leader. Because of their technology……they’re able to feed, clothe, house and transport themselves…equally and with no effort.”

This will scare most people. Bill will look on, scribbling notes, knowing that it always happens this way. But Addison will wonder.

“Why are they scared of us,” he’ll ask Eric. “Is it what we have to say about gold? Or is it the way I sound on the guitar?”

“They’re not scared of you,” Eric sagely replies, “They’re re scared of what you represent to them.”

“All we represent to them is somebody who needs a haircut,” Addison says as he scratches his mop of greying hair. Bill says nothing, nervously kicking his loafer in the dirt. Eric fills the awkward silence.

“Oh, no. What you represent to them…is freedom. Freedom’s what it’s all about.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s what it’s all about,” Addison says, visibly perking up and reaching for the Shiraz. Eric studies him and the replies.

“But talking about it and being it…that’s two different things. It’s real hard to be free…when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Don’t tell anybody that they’re not free, because they’ll get busy…killing and maiming to prove to you that they are. They’re going to talk to you and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it’s going to scare them.”

Bill strums a Johnny Cash tune on the guitar. Addison frowns and speaks.

“Well, it don’t make them running scared.” Eric nods and smiles.

“It makes them dangerous,” he says.

For the rest of the story, you’ll have to either read Empire of Debt, or wait for the movie!

Cheney’s Got a Gun

Cheney’s got a gun

Cheney’s got a gun

The VP shot someone

But he’s no Alexander Hamilton

“I think I shot a giant bird”

Was the last thing his buddy heard

He tried to keep it secret

And he made the White House toe the line

And you know it’s such a pity

that he can’t call Scooter Libby

to take the hit for him this time

Cheney’s got a gun

Cheney’s got a gun

Old Harry Whittington

Is like buckshot in his bum

They pushed the legislation through

He made Harry pay his I.O.U.

He shot an 80 year old lawyer

And he hoped nobody heard the sound

He swears he wasn’t drinkin’ but how could he be thinkin’

He could keep the story underground?

Run away Run away from the press

Run away, run away from the press

Cheney’s got a gun

Cheney’s got a gun

Guess he’s never gonna run

for another term in Washington

What will little Georgie do?

What will the Congress put him through?

When his Enron friends got busted

He couldn’t keep them out of jail

Now his pals from Haliburton are feeling kinda certain

They don’t want to join him hunting quail

Run away run away from the press

Run away run away from the press

Cheney’s got a gun

Cheney’s got a gun

His friends say they gotta run

When he calls them up to have some fun

Cheney’s got a gun

Cheney’s got a gun

His big plans come undone

His dog days just begun

Watch the video here: Dick Cheney’s Got A Gun

A painting by Mark Bryan…


Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford Transcript
from Saturday Night Live

[open on couple trying to balance their checkbook ]

Wife: (sighs) I just can’t get these numbers to add up.

Husband: Like we’re never going to get out of this hole.

Wife: Credit card debt, does it ever end?

Chris Parnell (CP): [walks in] Maybe I can help.

Husband: We sure could use it.

Wife: We’ve tried debt consolidation companies.

Husband: We’ve even taken out loans to help make payments.

CP: Well, you’re not the only ones. Did you know that millions of Americans live with debt they cannot control? That’s why I developed this unique new program for managing your debt. It’s called [presents book] “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford.”

Wife: Let me see that… [grabs book, reads] “If you don’t have any money, you should not buy anything.” Hmm, sounds interesting

Husband: Sounds confusing.

Wife: I don’t know honey, this makes a lot of sense. There’s a whole section here on how to buy expensive things using money you save.

Husband: Give me that… [grabs book, looks at it] And where would you get this saved money?

CP: I tell you where and how in Chapter 3.

Wife: Ok, so what if I want something but I dont’ have any money

CP: You don’t buy it.

Husband: Well let’s say I don’t have enough money to buy something. Should I buy it anyways?

CP: No-o-o-o.

Husband: Now I’m really confused!

CP: It’s a little confusing at first.

Wife: Well what if you have the money, can you buy something?

CP: Yes.

Wife: Now take the money away. Same story?

CP: Nope. You shouldn’t buy stuff when you don’t have the money.

Husband: I think I got it. I buy something I want, and then hope that I can pay for it right?

CP: No. You make sure you have money, then you buy it.

Husband: Oh, THEN you buy it. But shouldn’t you buy it before you have the money?

CP: No-o-o-o.

Wife: Why not?

CP: It’s in the book. It’s only one page long. The advice is priceless and the book is free.

Wife: Well, I like the sound of that.

Husband: Yeah, we can put it on our credit card.

CP: [shakes head]

Announcer: So get out of debt now, write for your free copy of “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford.” If you buy now you’ll also receive, “Seriously, If You Don’t Have the Money, Don’t Buy It!” Along with a 12-month subscription to “Stop Buying Stuff Magazine.” So order today!

It’s even better when you watch the video

The Canoe Race:  A Modern Parable about American Business

A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (General Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.

A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the American team had eight people steering and one person rowing.

So, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

To prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to four steering supervisors, three area steering superintendents and one assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the one person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the “Rowing Team Quality First Program,” with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses, and the next year’s racing team was outsourced to India!!!!

A Breath for Bernanke

Oh, Ben Bernanke. We’ve found yet another disapproving group of Americans. This time, it’s a group of faculty and students at Columbia University. They’ve written a song for you, Big Ben, to the tune of The Police’s Every Breath You Take.

Watch the video here:

Every Breath You Take (Ben Bernanke)

The Ben Bernanke Action Figure


Management Today

A magazine recently ran a “Dilbert Quotes” contest. They were looking for people to submit quotes from their real-life Dilbert-type managers. These were voted the top ten quotes from Dilbert managers in corporate America, circa 2004:

“As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday, and employees will receive their cards in two weeks.” (This was the winning quote from Fred Dales, Microsoft Corp. in Redmond WA)

“What I need is an exact list of specific unknown problems we might encounter.” (Lykes Lines Shipping)

“E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business.” (Accounting manager, Electric Boat Company)

“This project is so important we can’t let things that are more important interfere with it.” (Advertising/Marketing manager, United Parcel Service)

“Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule.” (Plant Manager, Delco Corporation)

“No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We’ve been working on it for months. Now go act busy for a few weeks and I’ll let you know when it’s time to tell them.” (R&D supervisor, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing/3M Corp.)

Quote from the Boss: “Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say.” (Marketing executive, Citrix Corporation)

My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for Monday. When I told my Boss, he said she died on purpose so that I would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He then asked if we could change her burial to Friday. He said, “That would be better for me.” (Shipping executive, FTD Florists)

“We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees.” (Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)



Lottery Sign


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