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April 28th, 2006

Divine Infidel

 'Dissenters are not always right, but it is always a warning sign when they are accused of unpatriotic sentiments by politicians seeking a safe harbor from debate, from accountability, or from the simple truth.'
John Kerry


Dear Folks,

"Praise be to Guy Fawkes and his prophet, Jimi Hendrix."

So began the first counter-theme of my closing performance at the Inaugural Golden Guy Fawkes Award - 'for the comedian voted most likely to blow up Parliament' - which sold out on Monday evening at the Melbourne Gaol. My fellow contestants were Will Anderson, Greg Fleet, Andrew Horabin, Duff, Corinne Grant, Eddie Perfect, and Gerard McCulloch, from the International Comedy Festival. The eloquent host and MC of the event was Rod Quantock and the three judges were Paul Kelly, Fiona Scott-Norman and legal eagle, Julian Burnside, QC. First Prize consisted of a sack of fertilizer and the plans to Parliament House. The Grand Sack of Ca-ca went to Greg Fleet for a great effort and there were a couple of Special Mentions (which I guess meant a tie for Second Place) of which I received one. It would have been nice to take out the First Ca-ca (my kaffir lime tree could have really used that fertilizer) but as I only focused on violating 20% of the sedition laws ­ the ones having to do with non-violent resistance (I don't advocate political violence and assassination, even in jest) ­ I kind of expected that anyone serious enough (and foolish enough) to cross the line into the other 80% would probably win. Greg Fleet unabashedly announced that he would be willing to off the Prime Minister, John Howard, if someone in the audience could guarantee (with certainty) that he could get away with it. When I heard that line, I knew he had it in the bag. (Or, rather, he had won the BAG.) Whether he was sincere or not (which I doubt) was irrelevant. He said the seditious words - and suggested a context involving the aid of others, so I guess technically, he covered the required ground. He also had a very tight set. Greg is also one of my favourite comics. The point system for judging was based ­ according to Julian Burnside ­ on how many years of time the contestant could do if convicted. The Special Mention winners scored about 28 years each and Greg Fleet scored a whopping 48 years.

Songwriter PAUL KELLY was one of the judges and I was a little apprehensive about seeing 'The Bard from Benalla' after our recent analysis of one of his songs in my newsletter. But he was gracious to me and told me he enjoyed the debate around his song and then proceeded to play it for me alone in the dressing room. That was special. Hearing it close up and personal reminded me of an early Slim Dusty song. (Still, it needs some work. About 28 years worth, I think.)

I ran into another one of the judges, the well-known Melbourne barrister, JULIAN BURNSIDE, during the break, up on the third level of the Old Melbourne Gaol. We leaned over the balcony together gazing down at all those darkened cells. I mentioned that standing in one of those tiny stone sarcophaguses made me feel extremely claustrophobic at first but I decided that if I had to spend an extended time in one, I could do it by building a stronger memory and imagination relationship than I currently possess (due in no small part to my present over-reliance on computer RAM). Julian pointed out that only a small percentage of felons would have been intellectuals. (Perhaps they would have built a stronger 'revenge-is-a-dish-best-served-cold' facility to get them through the lonely hours?)

I hadn't talked to comic GREG FLEET since we both worked together at the Edinbugh Festival some years ago and he was more than willing to help me share the Glenlivet single malt whisky in my hip flask. Greg is also joining me for the Unity For Peace Benefit Concert in a couple weeks to raise some funds to bring US peace activist CINDY SHEEHAN out to Australia for the Unity For Peace Conference in May. (Details on my WEBSITE. The other interesting thing we had in common was a passion for the US TV series, 'Deadwood', with Greg accurately recreating the character voices of Al Sweringen, Wu and Bullock. When he was announced as the winner, I actually felt happy for him. (The Celestial Cock-sucker.)

I was the last performer on the bill and had to follow nine stand-up comics ­ no mean task, folks. By contrast, my bracket was the diametric opposite of 'tight'. By the time it was my turn, I was thoroughly marinated in the single malt from my hip flask, and also had about three complimentary Crown lagers from the Green Room. I came on stage to the Islamic 'Call to Prayer', by Cat Stevens, chanting the Indjibundji words to 'Shaddap You Face', playing aboriginal rhythm sticks, dressed in full Muslim business attire, with dinki-di corks hanging from my black Saudi head cord. I also had on the stylish black Australian 'jihaw' suicide bomber vest I had made by attaching used Victoria Bitter beer cans to it with duct tape. (That anthrax duct tape has finally come in handy!) The 'Call to Prayer' music segued into the 'Shaddap You Face' backing track over which I simply sang the following mantra: 'Get out of Iraq, Hey! Don't Invade Iran, Hey!'
Over and over until the melody and words were burned into everyone's brains permanently, I hope.
I then suggested to the audience that, according to the Koran, the lesser jihaw was the external one, but the GREATER jihaw was the internal one, and therefore, this night I planned to blow up my 'Inner Parliament.' Which I then proceeded to do with a blues harp improvisation over which I gave instructions on How To Build a Bomb. The song was entitled, 'Blow It Up!' The lyrics were created spontaneously but in essence had four simple instructions:

1. Fertilizer. The best kind is the bullshit, collected from Canberra and Washington, packed tightly into a box.
2. Timer: None needed. The time is NOW!
3. Fuse: Go down to the ballot box, grab a ballot, check the box: 'I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired,' and kick John Howard and George W Bush out of office yesterday. Twist the ballot up, spit on it, swear at it, and stick it in the box.
4. Light the Match: from the inner fire of the ANGER at how these political morons are killing our kids and leading us over the precipice into an ugly world.

That's it! Strike the match. Light the fuse.
Blow it up! Blow it up! Blow it up! Blow it up!

I literally lit the fuse by once again 'Praising Guy Fawkes and his Prophet, Jimi Hendrix', and proceeded to set my harmonica on fire with lighter fluid and then chainsaw it into an unrecognisable shape with the big chainsaw I had hidden under a blanket. I wasn't really thinking about winning or losing by that time. I was concentrating more (in my single malt fugue state) on trying not to burn down the half million dollar Ned Kelly exhibit behind me and spraying the judges with the shrapnel from my chainsawed blues harp! As it was, I still slightly lacerated myself three times on my left hand, but after finishing up, went over to the judges table and put a bloody handprint on each of their judging forms to make sure they didn't forget I was there. (Hey ­ I had to do something memorable - I was following some serious professional stand-up, folks!)

So I was only twenty percent seditious. (So sue me, Julian.) But I was ninety-nine and forty-four hundreds percent SINCERE. Anyway, twenty eight years is long enough behind bars. That would make me eighty-six years old when I got out. On the bright side, it would give me more street cred. (Especially on the streets around the nursing homes.)

Favourite Spam Subject Heading of the Week

Subject: Your mother has always dreamed of beautiful kids but you didn't provide her with one. Try Spermamax.


Hey there Joe,
I am grateful that you are doing this critical cultural work for me (and the rest of us). Your emails appear from some higher cyber place (how did they find me?) and sometimes I cheekily overlook them. But these bring giggles, relief and a prodding back onto the good path. Incidentally, I was in the vicinity of the Merry Muse on Easter Saturday and some cacophonic dirges seized upon my sensibility, stormed my brain and frightened my aural orifices. Keep rockin'.

Hey Joe,
Re. Paul Kelly [song]
. . . Surely he didn't take your criticism personally? We were discussing lyrics of a song presented at an international event that proclaimed to reflect our values and tastes collectively, projecting our national image to the world. (That didn't stop a colleague from barking at me - her son is a Kelly fan! - but I figure that if popular culture is thrown at us every time we enter a public place, we can occasionally counter it with a private view.) Dissent is the sign of a healthy democracy, isn't it? Good luck for your contest, and congrats on the festival. ciao,

Re: words that rhyme
"That twerp'll have trouble getting over those terriers and bariffs, with a curple that size and a hirple!" Sorry Joe, couldn't resist
Stephen D.

Re: a rhyme for Orange
My friend from New Jersey sys "ARE inj". Aren'tja going to rhyme that?

Hi Joe,
Years ago, I gave up trying to find a rhyme for Orange, and admitted in verse my failure. I must have received fifty suggestions after the poem was broadcast on ABC way back then. And now you've revived it. Keep those newsletters rolling.
Blue the Shearer  (sometimes known as col wilson)


Ever since I learned to rhyme, I dreamed that there would come a time
When I would reach the ultimate achievement.
I've researched every book I know, looking for the way to go,
But all I found was desperate bereavement,
For I never found a word to rhyme with Orange.

I've sought the help of learned men, and women too, and now and then,
I felt there was a glimmer of some scope,
To find a word that well may fit, but sadly, I must now admit
I am left with very little hope
That I'll ever find a word to rhyme with Orange.

Nearly as a last resort, I considered 'porridge'. Then I thought:
That using 'porridge' is poetic crime.
Strike the 'd' insert and 'n', that will give you 'porringe' then,
At least, you'd have a word to rhyme,
(Albeit in a cheating way) with Orange.

Is it writ that I should fail my quest for the poet's holy grail,
As Sir Gawain did, in King Arthur's days of old?
Poetic friends, I must confess, so far, I've had scant success,
To find that word, more precious far, than gold,
That rare and valued word that rhymes with Orange.

Maybe the word is now extinct, anyway, that's what I thinked,
Searching for that word in language English.
My health is suffering a lot. I range from very cold to hot,
My skin feels, dry, then clammy, almost tinglish
Because I cannot find a word to rhyme with Orange.

My search has led me everywhere. It's led me here. It's led me there,
To cyberspace. That's far beyond Australia.
But up to now, no one has brung, even in a foreign tongue,
The word I need. Must I admit to failure
In my quest to find a word that rhymes with Orange?

Mind you, free verse might be the way, to give us rhyming poets our day.
Example: I am. You are. Therefore we must be.
But free verse to poets is a crime. Only wankers fail to rhyme.
You rhyming poet supporters then must see
The utter inadequacy of never having to face the challenge to find a rhyme with Orange, and they don't have to worry about meter.

And so I fling the gauntlet down, in every city, village, town.
I've failed my task. So now it's up to you.
Oh! You may scoff, and you may laugh, but please don't let my epitaph
Read: "Here lies that non shearing poet, Blue
Who never ever found a word to rhyme with Orange, and he didn't have much success with Dubbo either."

BLUE - the Shearer

G'day Joe,
Who wants to rhyme Orange anyway. There are other methods. Regards,
"The Town of Orange as everyone knows
Doesn't Rhyme - there is nothing that goes
As no ode verse or sonnet
Can be based upon it
Orange only appears within prose."
Bigruss June 05

Princess Anne's Dog Kills Queen's Corgi


'They bite.'
The Queen (to Rolf Harris's suggestion that she include the Royal Corgis in his painting of her portrait.)

One of the Queen's corgis has been put down after being savaged by an English bull terrier owned by Princess Anne. The attack is thought to have happened on Monday, when the corgis ran out to greet the Princess Royal as she arrived at Sandringham for Christmas. Princess Anne was convicted under the Dangerous Dogs Act last year after the same dog attacked two children. (article)

Been There, Done That
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
Los Angeles Times

(Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security advisor to President Carter from 1977 to 1981.)

Iran announcement that it has enriched a minute amount of uranium has unleashed urgent calls for a preventive U.S. airstrike from the same sources that earlier urged war on Iraq. If there is another terrorist attack in the United States, you can bet your bottom dollar that there also will be immediate charges that Iran was responsible in order to generate public hysteria in favor of military action. But there are four compelling reasons against a preventive air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities: (article)


Divine Strake
Bunker Buster

The Pentagon announces it will explode a new bomb at a Nevada test site on June 2. The 700-ton bomb is called "Divine Strake." William Arkin, author of Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World explains how bombs get their funny names. (article)

(Note: What a travesty for the word 'divine'! Apparently a special computer system comes up with the names. Some others the computer has spit out are: Bubble Girl and Busy Lobster. What about Divine Infidel? That might cause a pause for reflection.)

. . . . . And what the f*ck is a strake ? I had to look it up:

Strake: Middle English; akin to Old English streccan to stretch.
1 : a continuous band of hull planking or plates on a ship
2 :In aviation, a strake is an aerodynamic surface generally mounted on the fuselage of an aircraft to fine-tune the airflow. Aircraft designers choose the location, angle and shape of the strake to produce the desired interaction.
3 :The word Strake also refers to a straightedge used for levelling a bed of sand, or striking poured concrete or plaster level with the edges of the formwork or mould into which it has been poured. A strake used for flooring or paving work is often called a 'screed'.

(Note: I guess if ship mechanical parts are being used for names than we might also look forward to a Divine Screw very soon!)

Test Blast in Nevada: A Nuclear Rehearsal
By Robert Gehrke

 Washington - A powerful blast scheduled at the Nevada Test Site in June is designed to help war planners figure out the smallest nuclear weapon able to destroy underground targets. And it has caused a concern that it signals a renewed push toward tactical nuclear weapons. The detonation, called Divine Strake, is intended to "develop a planning tool to improve the warfighter's confidence in selecting the smallest proper nuclear yield necessary to destroy underground facilities while minimizing collateral damage," according to Defense Department budget documents. (article)

Divine Strake: Global Strike Low-Yield Nuclear Simulation

The conventional Divine Strake test scheduled for June 2006 is expected to create a large mushroom cloud, an image associated with atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1950s and early 1960s. Divine Strake will be nearly 0.6 kt TNT. (article)

Chernobyl Twenty Years On
Twenty years ago this week, an unparalleled nuclear disaster struck.
by Andrew Osborn, in Chernobyl and Geoffrey Lean

She is known as "Maria of Chernobyl" and - though she is not a saint - many view her birth in the shadow of the infamous reactor as little short of miraculous. Now aged six, Maria Vedernikova is the first and only child to be born in Chernobyl's post-catastrophe dead zone, a bleak and frightening area 18 miles in radius, now in Ukraine. Indeed, if you ask a guide at Chernobyl whether anyone has been born in the zone since 20 years ago this Wednesday, when the reactor exploded, you will get an emphatic "net".
Officially nobody is allowed to live here and the several hundred masochistic souls who insist on doing so are here illegally.
The soil is poisoned with caesium and strontium. Only temporary workers and catastrophe tourists are allowed to enter for short periods at their own risk. And "the zone" is associated in most people's minds with only one thing: death. Yet Maria's parents - canteen worker Lida Savenko and clean-up worker Mikhail Vedernikov - insist that she did indeed take her first breaths here, in a ramshackle peasant's cottage in Chernobyl village. Maria's upbringing has been unconventional; her food is checked with a Geiger counter and her home is regularly tested for radiation. She swims in a "nuclear" river and has no other children to play with. Since she has started going to school outside the zone, she has begun to lead a more normal life. So far she has shown no signs of being affected by radiation and appears healthy. (article)


The Devil's Interval

The Tritone (aka augmented fourth, diminished fifth) is a musical interval that spans three whole tones. It was called Diabolus In Musica (the devil's interval) back in the Middle Ages, and was banned for centuries for being too sexual. Black Sabbath guitarist, Tony Iommi, discovered he could play it well after having two fingertips amputated. (Note: as one would!) e.g. The augmented fourth between C and F# forms a tritone. One of the most easily recognizable tritones was the intro to Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'. Film composer Bernard Herrman uses the tritone to great effect in his score for the film The Day the Earth Stood Still, where the interval functions as a motif, played by low brass, for Klaatu's robot, Gort.
Wikipedia article - Article 2

Pink and Indigo - 'Dear Mr President'


During the Folk Quiz, which I was part of at the US Folk Alliance Conference, in Austin, Texas, last February, one of the questions put to our team was: name all the artists whose names have a colour in them. PINK and INDIGO GIRLS were two of our replies. Well, these two beautiful colours have joined forces to sing a GREAT protest song, written by PINK, from her new album. (See? Redemption is just around the corner for any of us!) The audio link has the Indigo Girls distinctive harmonies singing support and the video link does not - but it is an thrilling live version, nonetheless, with just acoustic guitar that should inspire any singer-songwriter out of their wits.

AUDIO (Pink with Indigo) - VIDEOCLIP (live - Pink without Indigo) - LYRICS (thanks to Maireid and Joe Simonetta)


"Sedition - incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority"

Sedition is a deprecated term of law to refer to non-overt conduct such as speech and organization that is deemed by the legal authority as tending toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often included subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. The difference between sedition and treason consists primarily in the subjective ultimate object of the violation to the public peace. Sedition does not consist of levying war against a government nor of adhering to its enemies, giving enemies aid, and giving enemies comfort. Nor does it consist, in most representative democracies, of peaceful protest against a government, nor of attempting to change the government by democratic means (such as direct democracy or constitutional convention). Wikipedia

Australian Sedition Laws

The new Australian laws more than double the maximum penalty for sedition from three years imprisonment to seven, and allow certain convictions relating to the use of force or violence on the basis of recklessness rather than proven intent. (In the criminal law, recklessness -sometimes also termed wilful blindness - is one of the three possible classes of mental state constituting mens rea [the Latin for "guilty mind"]. To commit an offence of ordinary as opposed to strict liability, the prosecution must be able to prove both an actus reus and a mens rea, i.e. a person cannot be guilty for thoughts alone. There must also be an appropriate intention, recklessness, or criminal negligence at the relevant time) However, the amended laws no longer include specific penalties for uttering seditious words, nor provisions relating to seditious enterprises, although the definition of seditious intent continues to apply in the determination of unlawful organisations. Additionally, all prosecutions for sedition (no longer just summary prosecution) now require the approval of the Attorney-General, although this does not apply to arrests. (article)


Here are two different kind of dolls that might appeal to you collectors.

The first is the latest high-tech SEX DOLL (forget the old floppy kind you might remember). These are custom-made to your preferences, firm, contoured, beautiful, they come in both sexes, and very expensive: approx $US 7000.00 each. (site) (For any of you lonely folks out there who actually decide to buy one of these Rolls Royce Barbies, here is a special site devoted to 'How To Repair Your Doll' in the event some of you fools get too excited and poke holes in it. Get a life!) Doll Surgery

The second selection is a VOODOO DOLL for Soccer fanatics. Soccer fans can put the flag of the competing team on the t-shirt of the voodoo doll and start sticking needles into the doll to cast evil spells onto the players. The FooTooKit comes with the doll, needles and a set of flags of the Soccer World Cup teams. (site) (Note: CAUTION!!! DO NOT MIX THESE TWO DOLLS UP!)

The Australian Taxation Office

At the end of the tax year the Tax Office sent an inspector to carry out an audit of the books of a synagogue. While he was checking the books he turned to the Rabbi and said, "I notice you buy a lot of candles. What do you do with the candle drippings?"
 "Good question," noted the Rabbi. "We save them up and send them back to the candle makers, and every now and then they send us free box of candles."
 "Oh," replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer. But on he went, in his obnoxious way:
 "What about all these matzo (flat bread eaten at Passover)  purchases? What do you do with the crumbs?"
 "Ah, yes," replied the Rabbi, realising that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. "We collect them and send them back to the manufacturers, and every now and then they send a free box of matzos."
 "I see," replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all Rabbi. "Well, Rabbi," he went on," what do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?"
 "Here, too, we do not waste," answered the Rabbi. "What we do is save up all the foreskins, and send them to the Tax Office, and about once a year they send us a complete dickhead."
(thanks to Jim Testa)

No Bar Code
By Michael Pollan

I might never have found my way to Polyface Farm if Joel Salatin hadn't refused to FedEx me one of his chickens.  I'd heard a lot about the quality of the meat raised on his "beyond organic" farm, and was eager to sample some. Salatin and his family raise a half-dozen different species (grass-fed beef, chickens, pigs, turkeys, and rabbits) in an intricate rotation that has made his 550 hilly acres of pasture and woods in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley one of the most productive and sustainable small farms in America. But when I telephoned Joel to ask him to send me a broiler, he said he couldn't do that. I figured he meant he wasn't set up for shipping, so I offered to have an overnight delivery service come pick it up.

"No, I don't think you understand. I don't believe it's sustainable - 'organic,' if you will - to FedEx meat all around the country," Joel told me. "I'm afraid if you want to try one of our chickens, you're going to have to drive down here to pick it up."

In Joel's view, the reformation of our food economy begins with people going to the trouble and expense of buying directly from farmers they know - "relationship marketing," the approach he urges in his recent book, Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide to Farm Friendly Food. Joel believes that the only meaningful guarantee of integrity is when buyers and sellers can look one another in the eye, something few of us ever take the trouble to do. "Don't you find it odd that people will put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food?" Joel, who describes himself as a "Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic farmer," speaks of his farming as his "ministry," and certainly his 1,000 or so regular customers hear plenty of preaching. Each spring he sends out a long, feisty, single-spaced letter that could convince even a fast-food junkie that buying a pastured broiler from Polyface Farm qualifies as an act of social, environmental, nutritional, and political redemption. (article)

Perfect Password

A woman was helping her husband set up his computer, and at the appropriate point in the process, told him that he would now need to enter a password.. Something he will use to log on.
The husband was in a rather amorous mood and figured he would try for the shock effect to bring this to his wife's attention. So, when the computer asked him to enter his password, he made it plainly obvious to his wife that he was keying in:

His wife fell off her chair laughing when the computer replied: ***PASSWORD REJECTED. NOT LONG ENOUGH
(thanks to sahyma)



Guanciale [pig cheek] is semi-hard, like pancetta, but with more fat. You can get it from Italian butchers who usually pride themselves on making it themselves. Bacon or pancetta can be substituted.

1 Polyface Farm 'Beyond Organic' Chook (or whatever you can catch)
300 kg chestnuts
olive oil
salt & pepper
onion, finely chopped
chunk of guanciale finely sliced, and then slivered
1 cup Japanese bread crumbs
3 tbles chiffonaded parsley
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 egg
red chili flakes
new potatoes (skins on)

Salt the chook (for overseas readers, chook is the Australian mediaeval dialectal name for chicken) all over and let rest for about half hour. Parboil the new potatoes for five minutes and set aside. Cut an X in the flat side of each chestnut and cook in boiling water for about 15 minutes, then peel and chop coarsely. Pre-heat oven to hot. Put some oil in a pan and cook the onion until opaque. Add garlic and guanciale and chili flakes and cook for a few minutes. In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, chestnuts, onion, garlic, guanciale, salt and pepper and egg. Stuff the chicken with the stuffing mix, rub olive oil all over the chook and salt once again. Put bird in a medium size roasting pan, place in the oven and reduce heat to 180 C. Cook for about half hour, then turn over, add the potatoes and cook for another 20 minutes, then turn back right side up again for another 20 minutes. (Cover with foil if top begins to overbrown.) Serve with any green vegetable and/or salad.

It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.
 It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
surviving cruelty,
it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.
 It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.
 It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.
~ Lisel Mueller ~
 (Alive Together: New and Selected Poems)

The Final Hurrah!

One day, about a month ago, President Bush was looking for a call girl. He found three such women in a local lounge - a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead.To the blonde he said, "I am the President of the United States... How much would it cost me to spend some time with you? The blonde replied, "Two hundred dollars."To the brunette he posed the same question, and she replied, "One hundred dollars." He then asked the redhead the same question. The redhead replied, "Mr. President, if you can raise my skirt as high as my taxes... get my panties as low as my wages... get that thing of yours as hard as the times... keep it as high as the gas prices... keep me warmer than my apartment... and...screw me in private the way you do in public, then believe me Mr. President, it ain't gonna cost you a cent."
(thanks to John Behr and Bob Kominey)