Friday, June 06, 2008

Annapolis Fit Club

Last week’s Post article on lobbyists purchasing dinners for groups of state legislators illustrates two growing threats. The first is a threat to our democracy. The second is a threat to the health of our beloved politicians. Fear not, dear readers – we at MPW have the answer to both of these problems! But I am afraid our legislators may not like it.

Let’s deal with the health threat first. Our state legislators are only human. They often have to work late, confront hordes of militant constituents and put up with unfair harassment from bloggers. The conditions are so terrible that even aspiring state legislators are driven over the edge. And on top of all that, overfeeding from eager lobbyists raises the awful specter of obesity.

Now our state legislators understand the scourge of obesity. That is why they chose to protect the rest of us from it by designating walking as the state exercise. But along come these crabcake-toting lobbyists eager to fatten them into bill-passing complacency. What would you do if you could have free lobsters, steaks, desserts and booze every single night? Come on, be honest!

A state delegate who shall remain nameless admits that obesity is running amok in Annapolis. One legendary story holds that a legislator once gained 100 pounds in a 90-day session. Some legislators keep desk drawers full of munchables to ward off boring committee sessions. And any legislator who resists eating until committee work is over can become a starving, easy mark for steak-bearing lobbyists.

Weight control is therefore mandatory for protecting our legislators’ health. We suggest that prior to every session, each legislator report for a weigh-in. Results will be publicly disclosed, perhaps even including a picture like this one of Brian Dunkleman from Celebrity Fit Club:

A similar weigh-in will be conducted after the session ends and all gains in weight and body fat will be reported. Any legislator who gains 20 pounds or more must report to Drill Sergeant Harvey Walden for immediate weight loss boot camp!

Now let’s return to the health of our democracy. Our legislators are regulated enough. They are already told too much how to behave and what to do (sometimes by the lobbyists). The answer is disclosure. We will accomplish that in two nifty steps.

First, lobbyists will once again be allowed to serve individual dinners to legislators, but they must pay for the privilege. Lobbyists must win the right to entertain these legislators by winning bids at auction. Each legislator will only be able to attend five of these dinners or they will answer to Drill Sergeant Harvey. Every dinner will be recorded and made available for download. (How many of them will resemble the infamous Bromwell dinner?) After a suitable cut is taken out for Senate President Mike Miller’s campaign account, the auction proceeds will go to purchase and maintain a fleet of personal GPS devices.

Second, these GPS devices will be ankle-shackled to all legislators, their staff and all registered lobbyists. Any time a GPS device belonging to a legislator or staffer comes within 10 feet of a device belonging to a lobbyist, that contact will be logged and disclosed on the state’s website. Every citizen will know exactly how much time each legislator spends with each and every lobbyist.

And if the GPS devices record contact between a legislator and a lobbyist between the hours of 10 PM and 5 AM, an immediate phone call and email will be sent to the legislator’s significant other!