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What's So Funny

After Bush staffers used finger puppets and an instructional video to explain to their boss just what, exactly, a columnist does, President Bush ordered Cabinet members to stop hiring writers to promote the administration's policies. "We will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda," he said at a rare press conference last week. "Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet."

Read: Cheney's endangered caiman-skin loafers.

Can't you just see those wheels turning in Bush's head, like two fat lab rats wheezing in their spinning circles? "Shoot, I can scrawl just as good as any of them fancy writer boys, what with their three-dollar words and symbaphors and whatnot. Give me that pen and cut me a line of yay, we's pulling an all-nighter!" (Sounds of frenzied snorting, erratic gunshots, theme from Alvin and the Chipmunks, followed by slow, clumsy typing.)

Bush's crackdown on friendly writers came a day after syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher apologized to her readers for failing to disclose a $21,500 contract she inked with the Department of Health and Human Services for writing and advisory work she did promoting the agency's $300 million initiative to encourage marriage. Gallagher's clandestine forays came to light just two weeks after the revelation that the Education Department had doled out $240,000 to conservative writer and broadcaster Armstrong Williams to pimp No Child Left Behind.

For many, this news may have come as a surprise. For the White House to pay writers to spin its policies in a positive light smacks of propaganda. But this sort of stuff has been going on forever. Even Clinton did it. In 1999 alone, he spent nearly $64 million on outside public-relations firms. Remember that weird Time magazine cover story "Blow Jobs Are Good for the Poor and the Economy, and, Like Health Care, Especially When Administered by Fat Jewish Girls"? It all adds up.

What doesn't add up is why no one in the administration contacted What's So Funny, a champion of good journalism and the author of a weekly column ourselves. This kind of stuff is right up our alley. Dubya, babe, have your people talk to our people, and we can work something out -- if the price is right, we'll write whatever you say.

Spin the election results in Iraq in a positive light? No problem.

"The fact that nearly 7,000 candidates ran for president of Iraq is a shining example of the promise and hope that democracy can bring to a nation..." What's that? Okay, we'll start over. "The fact that nearly 6,500 candidates ran for pres...the fact that there were nearly 5,750 candidates...the fact that...the fact..." Jesus, they killed that many? "The fact that 1,500 hundred people wanted to be president of Iraq is yet another sign of hope for this burgeoning democracy and the promise of an ongoing and everlasting freedom."

Like how we worked "freedom" in there?

What's So Funny's expertise isn't limited to foreign affairs. Our services are available to anyone -- for a fee. And What's So Funny isn't the only local journalist willing to champion causes for cash. A few examples from our city's storied past of journalistic whoredom and the overwhelming results:

April 23, 1859 -- Rocky Mountain News founder William N. Byers agrees not to publish scathing front-page article on President James Buchanan bludgeoning hooker to death in frontier brothel in exchange for rights to publish first paper in area.

May 9, 1907 -- Angered by the high costs and additional tax burden of Mayor Robert Speer's City Beautiful movement, local media prepares devastating "Speer's Queer" smear campaign; Speer deftly avoids negative press by allowing members of Colorado Press Association one murder apiece.

July 16, 1996 -- Aurora Citizens for Animal Mutilations pays Denver Post columnist Chuck Green an undisclosed amount of money to defend rampant string of summer animal mutilations; Aurora City Council votes unanimously to legalize mutilation of cats, small dogs and unmonitored children.

December 1999 -- United States Better Mustache Bureau offers Rocky Mountain News columnist Mike Littwin $350,000 to grow 'stache; Littwin agrees; mustaches make Rolling Stone's "Hot List" for first time since 1973.

September 2004 -- Rocky reporter Tina Griego agrees to write ungodly amount of articles on North High School in exchange for 2005 Cadillac Escalade, signed John Elway jersey; mid-year report shows number of students able to read at North leaps from six to eight.

The list goes on and on. And with your help, someday What's So Funny will join this list. So come one, come all, and bring sweaty fistfuls of cash: This column is officially open for business.

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Adam Cayton-Holland

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