Subject: Two Cows
DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who put a tax on your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money, buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous. Barbra Streisand sings for you.
REPUBLICAN: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?
SOCIALIST: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.
COMMUNIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It is expensive and sour.
OPPORTUNIST: You have two cows. Someone suggests to a local evangelist that it seems immoral, and the evangelist gets the state to shut you down. But the very same person who got the reverend fired up then tells you that if you pay him the equivalent of what one cow is worth, he will use his connections in the White House and Congress to protect your other cow. You go along with it. You feel screwed.
The opportunist, which I added to this widely circulated bit of office humor, is Jack Abramoff. And the Republican lobbyist and his crony, PR consultant Michael Scanlon, really did something like this. Only instead of cows, it was an American Indian tribal casino operation in the State of Texas. And instead of one cow, they squeezed $4.2 million out of the tribe to pay for their services to lobby Republicans in Congress to get that casino reopened. And they did this with more than one tribe.
Unethical? Yep. Illegal? Yep, because federal law requires that any proceeds from gaming benefit the tribe as a whole, rather than individuals. And guess where the $4.2 million came from? Trouble is, that was just the start of the corruption. And the high-rolling Abramoff went from riches and power to a prison term of five years and 10 months, while Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio) were forced to step down.
So why am I telling you this? Because Kevin Spacey plays Jack Abramoff in "Casino Jack," a 2010 film that dramatizes the story. It comes out on Blu-ray and DVD on April 5, and the occasion felt like a good excuse to pass along this office joke, which I always thought was pretty funny. Here's a trailer.