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Gene Weingarten: The returns of the zombie


We’ve entered the final stretch of the presidential election, and it has become apparent that Mitt Romney actually won’t release any more back tax returns, on the moral principle that nobody can make him, so neener, neener. Clearly, Romney has decided that whatever is in those returns is worse than the daily pounding about this that he is getting from his opponent, from the media and even from his own supporters.

On one hand, it would be unfair and irresponsible of me to baselessly speculate about what embarrassing facts those tax returns might reveal. On the other hand, no one can stop me, so neener, neener.

Gene Weingarten is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. View Archive

If there’s a smoking gun, I predict it’s going to be one or more of the following:

His actual legal name is neither Mitt nor Willard. It is Tiffani.

He has a controlling interest in the Impossible to Open Packaging Company, the Speed Trap Camera Mfrs. of America and/or the No You Can’t Ever Reach a Human corporate-voice-mail development company.

(by Eric Shansby)

He is still paying down a huge settlement for an ill-fated high-school prank in which a classmate unfortunately drowned in a toilet.

He employs a hair stylist, massage therapist and self-esteem counselor for the dancing horse.

His tax-shelter plan is so shrewd that he is, technically, indigent. He qualifies for, and uses, food stamps.

He lists $2.4 million in gambling losses from individual $10,000 bets he made with other politicians on whether he can prove his facts.

He owns an orphanage full of children with the same organ-tissue types of all his family members.

He keeps on yearly retainer a company called Ace Android Repair.

His butler has a six-figure salary, as does his butler’s butler.

He takes depreciation on a yacht named I Am Better Than You.

In addition to his car elevator, he also has a horse elevator and a moneybag elevator.

His household staff includes a jester, a food taster and, for Ann, a lady-in-waiting. He deducts the cost of whips for flogging the servants.

He writes off his extensive remedial “acting like a person” lessons.

Every year, he takes a business deduction for leasing his sons from Central Casting.

He files two tax returns every year, once as old-school liberal Mitt and one as tooth-gnashing, conservative Mitt. The IRS commissioner has specifically ruled this okay, saying they are “two different people entirely.”

After firing his brother-in-law, Murray, he offshored his tax prep to the accounting firm of Rajnish & Hasbani, of Peshawar. It charged him $115, based on 200 hours of billable time.

Of course, maybe it’s none of the above. Maybe we’re thinking about this all wrong, and Romney isn’t afraid of looking like a rich, elitist snob who games the system and pays only a 15 percent tax rate. Maybe he’s afraid of looking like a sucker. Remember, the tax returns in question are from 2009 and before. Maybe Mitt is humiliated to have to admit that when he trusted his American brother-in-law, he was paying 37 percent taxes, just like all the rest of us ordinary middle-class dirtbags.

Rachel Manteuffel contributed to this column.

E-mail Gene at Find chats and updates at



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