Tom Purcell

Ring, ring.

"Hello, this is Tom."

"Hello, Tom, this is the federal government. We are going to audit your taxes and want to see all of your records for 2011."

"Sorry, federal government, but my computer crashed in 2011. All of my emails, electronic receipts and financial records were lost."

"We're not buying that, Tom. Anybody with half a brain would back up his data to a backup drive. And many people pay a measly 60 bucks a year to a service that automatically backs the data up online. Surely, your 2011 data still exist."

"Nope, sorry, no backups were ever done. When my computer crashed I lost all the data I created from 2009 to 2011."

"Then give us the crashed hard drive, Tom. We have experts here who know how to retrieve data from crashed drives."

"I'd love to help you, but it is my policy to recycle crashed hard drives."

"Well, what about emails you sent to your accountant, Tom? They surely exist. Email exists not just on hard drives but on the networks of the email providers."

"Nope, sorry, the emails are gone forever, too. My accountant's computer also crashed. And the email provider we were using went out of business."

"That sounds awfully fishy to us, Tom."

"Why should it? It is the very same defense the IRS is using. The IRS says it is unable to retrieve specific information and emails from specific IRS employees who are accused of using the IRS to target conservative groups."

"What are you talking about, Tom?"

"According to Politico, the IRS told congressional investigators 'that the emails of (Lois) Lerner, the former head of the tax exempt division that was found to have singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny, were lost from 2009 to 2011 in a computer hard drive crash in early summer 2011.'"

"So what of it, Tom? Computer crashes happen all the time."

"Politico says 'the time frame is significant because the tea party targeting began in the spring of 2010, and Republicans think if there was a smoking gun connecting the Obama administration to the IRS treatment of conservative groups, it could be found during that period.'"

"Come now, Tom. Government agencies follow specific processes for disposing of broken hard drives. Bad drives are sent to companies that recycle them. There is absolutely no evidence that operatives in the White House had anything to do with the targeting of conservative groups."

Tom Purcell

Tom Purcell, author of "Comical Sense: A Lone Conservative Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" and "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood," is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist syndicated nationally by Cagle Cartoons. Visit him on the web at