Money will buy anything these days - including an imaginary foreign leader who will not only support your presidential candidacy, he will lie for you.
On the heels of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry insisting that numerous foreign leaders (whom he declines to name) have endorsed his bid for the White House, a politically motivated entrepreneur, who appears to be from India, has placed himself on the EBay auction block as the imaginary "leader of a foreign nation that supports your candidacy for president of the United States until the elections in November."
"I'll play along with you with whatever you want me to say," says the pretend head of state. "If you want me to tell some pesky Republican who calls you out at a campaign stop that I support you, I'll back you up. ... Just like you, I'm willing to say anything it takes to get you elected. I won't mean a bit of it, and I'll change my stand on the situation when it is politically convenient."
Last time we checked, the bidding, which started at $10, surpassed $15,099. The high bidder was a woman named Zelda.
BECOME NO. 30
Keep your eye open for any al Qaeda terrorist cells in this country. It could make you extremely wealthy.
In the past seven years, 29 persons who provided credible information about terrorists to U.S. authorities have received rewards in excess of $49 million, including one tipster whose information led to the arrest and conviction of Ramzi Yousef for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City.
And look for the reward pot to grow. Last week, by a vote of 414-0, the House passed the Counter-Terrorist and Narco-Terrorist Rewards Program, which expands rewards even further to help prevent acts of terrorism against U.S. citizens.
For example, under provisions of the USA Patriot Act of 2001, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has been authorized to pay up to $25 million for information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden and other key al Qaeda leaders. The just-passed House bill raises the reward for bin Laden's capture to a whopping $50 million.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) reveals that bin Laden slowly has been changing his own source of financing.
"He used to depend on Wahhabi (Saudi Islamic sect) donations, his personal fortune and donations from Europe, but those sources of funding have largely dried up under a series of United Nations legal orders," the congressman says. "Today, Osama bin Laden stands as one of the world's number one sellers of heroin."
Kirk says the heroin group Haji Bashir Noorzai, based in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, provides 2,000 kilograms of heroin every eight weeks to bin Laden's lieutenants in Pakistan, worth $28 million a year.
In December, the U.S. Navy intercepted boats in the Arabian Gulf loaded with methamphetamine, hashish and heroin worth $10 million - "an attempt by bin Laden to move from the Pakistani market where he gets $2,000 per kilogram of heroin to the United Arab Emirates, where he would get $10,000 per kilogram," the congressman says.
CLINT FOR PRESIDENT
Suffice it to say, John Kerry has a potty mouth.
Days after coming under sharp criticism for his inappropriate use of four-letter words, the Democratic presidential nominee has cursed a Secret Service agent whose job is to take a bullet for the politician.
It was a tough assignment from the start for Secret Service agents dispatched to guard the Massachusetts senator as he vacations in star-studded Sun Valley, Idaho.
"Hotel managers in the valley are aware of Kerry's presence, only because the Secret Service personnel assigned to protect Kerry have had trouble finding a place to stay," the Idaho Statesman reported.
"They called and wanted rooms, but I had to tell them we're full," said Tamarack Lodge manager Jitka Sullivan.
Surely, Kerry could have found a couple of spare beds within the $8 million Sun Valley estate owned by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. According to the Statesman, the European country-style manor is the largest and most secluded of all the resort's properties, with two huge stone fireplaces to keep the place cozy.
And if bunking down wasn't difficult enough for Uncle Sam's bodyguards, the New York Times buried way down in its story filed from the sun-splashed slopes: "His next trip down, a reporter and a camera crew were allowed to follow along on skis - just in time to see Mr. Kerry taken out by one of the Secret Service men, who had inadvertently moved into his path, sending him into the snow.
"When asked about the mishap a moment later, (Mr. Kerry) said sharply, 'I don't fall down,' then used an expletive to describe the agent who 'knocked me over.'"
Maybe the senator is sore because after months of his grueling campaign, few are paying attention to him attention in Sun Valley.
"Most people aren't even aware Kerry is here, and many don't seem to care anyway," observes the Statesman. "At the Roosevelt Bar and Grill on the corner of Main and Sun Valley Road, a young, curly-haired bartender named Ryan Parade had no clue that the man challenging President Bush was close at hand.
"Who's that?"Parade said when asked if he knew Kerry was in town for a week.
Admitted vacationer Joyce Bavas of Chicago: "I see Clint Eastwood all the time. Now, he's more my idea of a president."
PASS THE KETCHUP
Don't believe everything you eat.
Located just one block from the White House is the Center for Consumer Freedom, which amid mounting litigation against caloric-heavy fast-food restaurants is blasting filmmaker Morgan Spurlock's new documentary, "Super Size Me."
"The main attraction of 'Super Size Me' is watching Spurlock put on weight while he gorges on nothing but McDonald's food for a month," notes CCF Executive Director Richard Berman. "But eating 90 meals in a row at the same restaurant is no more realistic than so-called reality shows like 'Average Joe.'"
Plus, Berman points out, conspicuously absent from Spurlock's "blame-the-burger" publicity stunt is any mention of his physical activity or a nutritional definition of what weight gain really is - calories in versus calories out.
In other words, you can get fat from gorging on Brussels sprouts, too.
"Just ask Don Gorske," says Berman. "He's in the Guinness Book of Records for eating 19,000 Big Macs. Gorske is 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, and his cholesterol is a healthy 155."
During the same week former White House national security official Richard Clarke is condemning the Bush administration for marching on Baghdad to dethrone Saddam Hussein, every member of Congress is opening "Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves," a report highlighting the worst human rights atrocity of Saddam's regime.
"Hundreds of thousands of murdered Iraqis, including women holding their children with bullet holes, lie in at least 270 mass grave sites around the country," says Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who has seen fit to mail each member a copy of the report.
"Saddam's mass graves represent a crime against humanity surpassed in scope only by the World War II Nazi Holocaust, Pol Pot's Cambodian communist killing fields in the 1970s, and the Rwandan genocide in 1994," says Wilson.
SHEPHERD AND FLOCK
"What I do not support is this misleading Bush administration and this House ... that follows them like sheep." -- Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), who cites one report claiming President Bush and senior White House officials made 237 misleading statements about threats posed by Iraq in 125 public appearances.