Got to give the president a big bowl of props for interrupting Obama-Rama on Martha's Vineyard with his valiant effort to paint a big old smiling happy face on the side of the economy.
Although, in the future, he might want to come up with something a bit more reassuring than, "We're losing jobs at a much slower pace." Hey everybody, did you catch that? The economy is doing less badly. Alright! It's not getting worse as rapidly as it previously was. Woo hoo! The brakes are on the slide. About as encouraging as a squad of septuagenarian cheerleaders waving black pom-poms after a loss in the rain at night.
Typically, economists are unsure whether the parachute has or hasn't opened to slow the free-fall of our recession. Or why. That's because they're economists. You know that phrase: Couldn't tell his rump from yellow paint? Next time you see an economist on one of those cable talk shows, check under his fingernails. You got it. Chips of yellow paint.
Look up "equivocating" in the dictionary -- there's a picture of an accountant hiding from an economist.
It could be seasonal. Perhaps summer barbecue grill tongs sales peaked above expectations, or back-to-school notebooks flew off the shelf, or there's been an early run on Cool Whip in anticipation of massive pumpkin-pie production. Could be just the natural way of things. You know, part of that whole good, bad, boom, bust, excellent, sucky cycle. Then again, it might have been the much-vaunted economic stimulus package kicking in. Hard to tell. Although a lot of folks still maintain the only thing the stimulus package aroused was their suspicion.
Cash for Clunkers might have had a hand in it. The rebate program ended its run with about 700,000 new cars sold, and initial estimates are that three or four of them were made in America. I got to be honest, when I first heard the phrase "Cash for Clunkers," I thought they were talking about raising the per diem for the Senate. Or it was a recurring entry on a lobbyist's expense report.
It hasn't been all roses and sunshine and bubble baths. Some dealers are still whining about government delays in rebate reimbursement. Yeah. You read that right. Auto dealers are complaining someone is slow holding up their end of a bargain. Should have signed up for the undercoating.
Now the feds are rolling out a sequel to Cash for Clunkers whereby consumers earn rebates by trading in large appliances for energy-efficient replacements. The old two-birds-with-one-coin strategy. The problem is there's no cute alliterative name for the program. I'm sorry; Cash for Stackable Washer/ Dryer Combos doesn't quite cut it. Cash for Upright Freezers with Manual Defrost lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.
What we need is a series of programs to recapture the public's fancy and open wide their wallets. People eat, don't they? Why not seduce them into consuming domestic donuts? Cash for Dunkers. Or how about our brave American rotisserie chicken establishments? Cash for Cluckers. Maybe a stimulus program for disaffected banjo players ... Cash for Pluckers.
Oyster restaurants could use assistance: Cash for Shuckers. Let's throw a bone to our indigenous cave explorers. Cash for Spelunkers. And finally, I'm personally hoping to hook into a research grant for exposing fake psychics: You know, Cash for Debunkers.
Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them. Please catch his new, one-man show, "The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion," when it appears near you.
Durst is a political comedian, who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at email@example.com.