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Triggering a silent scream - Will Durst

The president is not what you call dim. He's obviously aware the only thing worse than a bleakening economy is a bleakening economy where the most depressed of us are forced to watch the least depressed of us get handed eight-figure bonuses.

And no, that's not counting the two figures to the right of the decimal point.

It's one thing to be supplementing your diet with discount cat food. It's another thing to have your nose rubbed into the tiny tins by the people responsible for compelling you to munch on the Meow Mix.

So, St. Barack made a big deal of reassuring the public that, at least, a modicum of accountability will exist on his watch by announcing a cap on executive salaries for the banks that want to be part of the government bailout. And the number of banks that are looking to be part of the government bailout is approximately... all of them. Times two.

In retrospect, it's not difficult to figure out why all these trusted financial institutions went belly up. The people they got running those things have the same sense that God gave a beach pail full of green plastic Easter grass. Proved to be more self-centered than the backstage bathroom mirror at a Debutante Ball in the Hamptons. Crazier than naked flagpole sitters in a blizzard.

They bought into their own Tom Wolfe "Masters of the Universe" BS. Mesmerized by the siren song of a little thing called unregulated greed, which ended up sucking them drier than a four-day dead possum on an interstate outside Tucson. Making them weep and keen and cry that it was up to us to bail them out or all hell was going to break loose; and we, like the large mouth suckers we are, snapped at the bait. Pulling muscles in our rear haunches, rushing to give them palettes full of cash before our retirement accounts retired for good.

So what do they do with all our bailout money? Help out society and homeowners by fixing the sub-prime mess they created? What are you, nuts? They spent it on themselves. AIG arranged a little spa vacation at a Ritz-Carlton. Citigroup tried to buy a $50 million corporate jet, and then put their name on a stadium. Wells Fargo planned a staff retreat in Vegas to "recognize team members by emphasizing their value to the company." Recognize their value to the company? The company's broke. You could recognize that value with a shovel, a six-foot hole and a pointy stick.

AND despite their worst year since Hoover, Wall Street passed around $18 billion in bonuses. To the exact same idiots steering our grocery carts down the pet-food aisle in the first place. Who will undoubtedly find loopholes the size of Saskatchewan in the president's edicts, but, at this point, like the size of the Valentine, it's the thought that counts. Even if only one guy gets his hands slapped, it's 10 more red knuckles than we've seen in 97 months.

What we've been experiencing is bank robbery in reverse. The perps didn't even bother wearing masks. And triggered absolutely no silent alarms. The problem is, those security cameras in the lobby are pointing the wrong way. You should do what I do. Now, every time I make a deposit, I ask the teller for two pieces of identification. "Oh yeah, what's your mother's maiden name?"

Will Durst is a political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.

Durst has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at durst@caglecartoons.com.