I woke up this morning experiencing several important concerns, which I would like to share with you here in the hope that they will add up to a large enough total word count so that I can go back to bed.

CONCERN NO. 1: Mr. Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr.

As you probably know, Mr. LaRouche is this person who has started his own political party and wishes to take over the country, which troubles many people because his views are somewhat unorthodox. (What I mean, of course, is that he is as crazy as a bedbug. Where you have a brain, Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. has a Whack-a-Mole game. But I am not about to state this in print, as I do not wish to have his ardent followers place poison snakes in my sock drawer.)

Those of you who are frequent airline travelers are no doubt already familiar with Mr. LaRouche's views, because they are displayed on posters attached to card tables at most major airports. Somehow, a year or so ago, the LaRouche people managed to get the lucrative Airport Lunatic concession away from the Moonies. What I suspect happened is that one day, on a prearranged signal, the LaRouche people sneaked up behind the Moonies and strangled them with their own little book bags, probably in full view of thousands of air travelers, who of course would not have objected. Many of them probably helped out by whapping the Moonies with their carry-on luggage. I know I would have.

But, now, two of Mr. LaRouche's ardent followers have won the Illinois Democratic primary nominations for secretary of state and lieutenant governor. This has caused massive nationwide anxiety because of the unorthodoxy of their views, which, as far as we have been able to tell, involve shooting Jane Fonda with a laser beam from space. Not that I personally see anything wrong with these views! No sir! I don't even have a sock drawer!

But we do have to ask ourselves if we truly can afford, as a nation, to elect crazy people to a vital state office such as lieutenant governor, which involves weighty responsibilities such as wearing a suit and phoning the governor every day to see if he's dead. Because mark my words, if these people win in Illinois, they'll go after higher and higher offices, until someday -- I do not wish to alarm you, but we must be aware of the danger -- we could have a situation where our top national leaders are going around babbling about laser beams from space. So I am calling on you Illinois qj voterssw,-2 sk,2 ld,10 to come to your senses before the general election and take responsible citizen action in the form of moving to a more intelligent state. This is the perfect time to do so, thanks to declining oil prices.

CONCERN NO. 2: Declining Oil Prices

Like many of you, I did not realize, at first, that the decline in oil prices was something to be concerned about. In fact, I viewed it as the first really positive development in this nation since Jimmy Carter was attacked by the giant swimming rabbit. But then I started reading articles by leading nervous economists stating that the oil-price decline is a very bad thing, because it is causing severe hardships for the following groups:

1. The OPEC nations.

2. The U.S. oil industry.

3. The big banks.

4. Texans in general.

When I read this, naturally my reaction, as a concerned American, was: hahahahahahahaha.

No, seriously, we need to be worried about declining oil prices, and I am going to explain why. The international economy is based on the U.S. dollar, which is trusted and respected throughout the world because it is the only major currency that does not look like it was designed by preschool children. The value of the dollar, in turn, depends on the investment savvy of big U.S. banks, which lend their dollars to the oil-rich Third World.

This system worked well until the late 1970s, when the price of oil started to fall. This was caused by a decline in demand, which was caused by the fact that people couldn't get their cars repaired, which was caused by the fact that the oil companies had bought all the independent garages and turned them into "self-service" stations selling a mutant assortment of retail goods and staffed by surly teen-agers, so that God forbid you should have actual car trouble at one of these service stations because they would tow you away for blocking the access of customers wishing to purchase nasal spray and Slim Jims.

So now the banks are stuck with a lot of oil, which they are trying to get rid of by converting it into Visa cards, which they offer to my wife. She gets six or seven Visa offers from desperate banks per business day. She got one recently from -- I am not making this up -- a bank in South Dakota. I didn't even know they had banks in South Dakota, did you? What would people keep in them? Pelts?

Well I don't know about you, but I am uncomfortable with the idea of having a world economy dependent upon the Visa needs of my wife. So I think we need to revamp the whole world economic structure, and the obvious first step is to require banks to repair cars. The supermarkets, which already cash checks, could take over the remaining functions currently performed by banks, such as lending money to the Third World and being closed. You would get your food at service stations, which would be required to get some new sandwiches. You would continue to buy gas at "convenience" stores. Illinois would be sold to wealthy Japanese investors. All these regulations would be enforced by laser beams from space.