This is the big season for raising political money. Everyone from presidential candidate to lowly senator is begging for dollars, and it is not fun.
I walked into Sen. Moondecker's office. He was on the phone yelling. "Look, Trilby, we sent you two envelopes and nothing came back. The next time you want me to get a bill passed for you making it possible to transfer liquid gas through kindergarten playgrounds, forget you know me."
"Some people just don't have any gratitude," I said.
"I don't know what's going on," he complained. "Last time I had $800,000 -- this election I have $3,000. All the lobbyists claim their home offices have frozen them out."
"Maybe it's the stock market," I suggested. "A lot of guys who help politicians are now in the quicksand."
Moondecker said, "They should give when there is a stock market crisis, if for no other reason than only the Senate can get them out of their misery. What I resent is that nobody is buying tickets to my breakfast."
"How much is your breakfast?"
"Ten thousand dollars a plate, but you get hot coffee and danish. I've only sold 40 tickets."
"Maybe you ought to get Jim and Tammy Bakker as your speakers. They sell tickets better than anyone."
"Last time I made $144,000 on my bingo game. This year I can't give the cards away. You'd think people would donate to make sure their candidates get in."
"There must be lots of voters that your computer hasn't heard from."
The phone rang and Moondecker picked it up. "Yes, I know who you are," he said. "You're Ogilvy of Beeswax Honey and you want me to introduce a bill barring all Japanese honey from the United States. How do you expect me to do this without a war chest? Do you think honey bills grow on trees? Ogilvy, how would you like to be an admiral in the SS Moondecker Navy? It will cost you $25,000 and you get to sit on the deck of all Senate trade meetings. Thanks, Ogilvy, your bees are safe with me."
Moondecker said, "This is not my idea of fun, but if I don't do it somebody else will and heaven knows what kind of senator he'll turn out to be. At least I can be trusted."
"Do all senators make their own appeals for money?" I asked.
"All the ones I know do. Of course, those who sit on the Armed Services Committee can raise a lot more than those stuck with investigating air traffic controllers. Some of the chairmen even have their own PACs and they give money to other senators -- then you really owe them for being nice to you."
"It seems there are many ways of raising money in politics. What is the weirdest thing you've done?"
"I offered to put up a guy for an ambassadorship for $15,000."
"That sounds good," I said.
"It would have been, but the nomination was turned down. Now the guy wants to be a federal judge."