The Common Good
August 2012

Plunging into the Political Fray. Or Not.

by Ed Spivey Jr. | August 2012

Remind me again what lawyers do. I forget.

THE TAR SANDS in Alberta, Canada, have been in the news a lot lately, since they appear to be a promising source of energy for the United States, a nation hungry for a fuel derived by despoiling pristine forests, fouling fresh water sources, and enriching oil executives. (Nobody said capitalism would be pretty. Cute and cuddly, perhaps, but not pretty.)

Rubber stamp illustration, Jason Winter /

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Actually, I’m not familiar with this new type of energy source. Is it the tar we want, or the sand? Probably not the tar, since it’s too sticky and is mainly used as a preservative for saber-toothed tiger skeletons in California, something I learned in an eighth grade history book with lots of pictures. (I like pictures.)

So it must be the sand, which one day our cars will run on, to which I must add: Are our scientists brilliant, or what?!

Unfortunately, extracting this energy source domestically could be a direct threat to our beaches, the nation’s principal source of sand. Which is why I plan to Occupy the Beach of My Choosing later this summer, and stand in powerful protest—or, after a heavy picnic lunch, lie on a blanket in powerful protest—against exploiting this valuable resource.

Come to think of it, Saudi Arabia has lots of sand. So maybe we can get it from them.

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT energy. It’s an election year and things are heating up. So let’s talk politics.

Sojourners’ attorney: Let’s not.

Me: Uh, who are you?

Attorney: What, you can’t read? And it’s in bold face, for crying out loud.

Me: Well, I’m trying to write a column here, so why don’t you go work on some legal briefs. Or are they boxers?

Attorney: Look, my job is to protect Sojourners’ nonprofit status, which is at risk if you show the slightest partisanship in your ... “humor.”

Me: But I’m ready to roll, baby! Soon the Republicans will hold their national convention and finally change Mitt Romney’s status from “presumptive” to “lamentable” nominee. And, depending on how long Ron Paul delegates hold him hostage in a basement, loyal party members will then be 100 percent behind maybe voting for the guy.

Attorney: You can’t disparage one candidate unless you make an equally negative reference to the other.

Me: President Obama has big ears.

Attorney: Doesn’t work. For one thing, it’s 45 words shorter than your Romney thing.

Me: Made you count.


Me: Look, this is going to be one of the most important elections in this nation’s history, with the wrong outcome presaging an accelerated economic collapse in which millions could fall from the middle class into desperate poverty, and somebody has to find the comedy in that.

Attorney: Why don’t you just talk about the weather? The weather is funny, right? Or maybe airline food? Those little bags of peanuts just keep getting smaller, hah! On second thought, forget that. Some of your readers may have food allergies.

Me: Well, I can always write about my granddaughter.

Attorney: Is she registered to a political party?

Me: I don’t think so. But she does have an MSNBC app on her toy cellphone. I think I once saw Rachel Maddow on the screen, but when I walked over, it quickly switched to Dora the Explorer, who has a talking backpack. Which is kind of creepy.

Attorney: Too risky. How about nonpolitical news?

Me: Well, Russian and South Korean scientists are going to transplant the DNA of a wooly mammoth into an elephant. I could point out what a bad idea that is, since I’ve seen Jurassic Park like 12 times.

Attorney: Not unless they’re also cloning a donkey.

Me: How much are we paying you to ruin my day?

Attorney: I’m on retainer.

Me: Say, when you take that out at night, do you keep it by your bed or on the bathroom sink? I kept mine next to the bed. But sometimes it would fall during the night, and I’d wake up with this wet thing touching my leg. Does that ever happen to you?

Where’d he go?

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.

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