A Long Way Down

By Art Buchwald
Thursday, November 16, 2006

I was walking down K Street three days after the election. I noticed several people leaning out windows.

I asked a fireman standing on the sidewalk what was going on.

He said, "They are all Republican lobbyists, and now that the election is over they're jumping out of the windows."

I said, "I thought Republican lobbyists had safety nets."

"Some do and some don't. The lobbyists have been in their offices so long they never thought that someday the Democrats would push them out."

I said, "None of us thought that the lobbyists would take the election so hard."

The fireman replied, "It was their living. Companies paid large fortunes to have one of those guys, who are now jumping out the window, lobby for them."

I said, "Well, if they're jumping, who's taking their places?"

He answered, "The Democratic lobbyists. The major corporations have decided, now that the election is finished, that the Republicans don't count for beans. All the people that gave money to Tom DeLay no longer want to play golf with him."

I said, "It's a tough world on K Street. How many people have jumped in your net?"

"One hundred fifty, if you don't count Jack Abramoff. These lobbyists were former senators, congressmen and lawyers, and they were friends to the rich and famous. They thought they'd have their jobs forever."

I said, "But didn't they realize the polls showed the Republicans were going to lose the election?"

He said, "They couldn't believe the polls. Then, after every drop of a point, one of the Republicans jumped out the window."

I asked, "Is this why there are so many firetrucks on K Street?"

He answered, "All the way down the street. They're bringing in firetrucks from Virginia, Maryland, Missouri and Montana. We've had volunteer Democrats from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The volunteers immediately started to lobby. You can't have these buildings without somebody in them doing the lobbying."

While we were talking, a lobbyist jumped from the 12th floor, missed the net, and hit the pavement.

The fireman said, "You can't catch 'em all. We're doing pretty good, considering we had to change horses in midstream. As you understand, you can't have honest government without lobbyists. As a matter of fact, there are so many now on K Street that they've had to enlarge the offices over to I Street. The more accounts they get, the more lobbyists they have to hire.

"The big mistake of the major lobbying companies was giving money to the wrong party. All their large contributions went to Republican candidates.

"Now they have to start giving money to the Democrats. Donating money to the right party is the main trick of running a good lobbying campaign."

I said, "Well, at least the lobbyists have two more years before they have to make contribution decisions again."

The fireman said, "It comes around in no time. At the moment we have to order new safety nets, and they're going to come out of the taxpayers' money."

I heard another splat. "K Street isn't as safe as it used to be."

He said, "Neither is the government."

2006Tribune Media Services

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