Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hitting DeLay below the Beltway

Flying into Hobby Airport yesterday, I was too lazy to have thought ahead to arrange a ride back to Rice, and too cheap to buy a $15 airport shuttle ride to campus either. So I decided to take advantage of the U.Pass and take the 88 bus downtown, where I could transfer to the light rail and walk a block to campus, all for "free" (after $28,000 in tuition, fees, etc., paid for the year).

The trip was unremarkable and very typical of American public transit: terribly underutilized. (How many chumps were paying $30 or $50 for a cab into town when a $1 fare gets you there just as easily?)

Anyway, there were two guys on the bus who presumably sort of knew each other, and as I got on they were debating between themselves about football and each accusing the other of misremembering who was the Super Bowl champion in 2001 or 2003. They decided they would bet on it and after looking it up, they would see who was right and the loser would owe 1 cent to the winner. One of them said he would write a check for $0.01 if he had to pay, but that the other couldn't cash it because that account had been closed, and he might be punished for trafficking in bogus documents.

The other said he once had a discussion with someone from the power company about a delinquent bill, where they recommended he just write a check for the amount. He said he didn't want to, because the check would bounce. He added (and this is where the story starts to pay off) that if he did write a bad check and his electricity get cut off, it wouldn't be that bad. "To get it turned back on, I'd just pay a $100 bribe, to Tom DeLay!"

Tom DeLay! When I heard him say that, I got this big goofy grin on my face because, well, let's face it: Tom DeLay is really in trouble when not just political junkies like myself know about him and his exploits, but when Random Guy on the Bus knows that he is "ethically challenged". RGB went on to say that DeLay would take money left and right and that was all he cared about, and he also mentioned about DeLay having to step aside as Majority Leader based on the indictment against him for money laundering. RGB had quite a bit more than a passing familiarity with DeLay's troubles. Presumably his interlocutor (and/or the whole bus: he was speaking rather loudly) had a similar acquaintance with the issues, without which the joke wouldn't have made sense to tell. This is no longer simply an inside-the-Beltway issue.

Bravo, Random Guy on the Bus! You made my day. Now get out there and vote!

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