The precise word to explain this season's big new trend in campaign financing is obliviousness. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that everybody is allowed to give as much money as they desire to anybody they choose and absolutely nobody needs to know about it.
The upshot of which has all of America knee deep in the oxymoronic spectacle of a very expensive free-for-all.
In a flash, We, the People, have become Helen Keller. Blind. Deaf. And Dumb. With an emphasis on the latter. Because nobody cares. La di dah. Makes no difference where these surreptitious tsunamis of decoy dollars are originating from: religious nut jobs, public service unions, defense contractors or foreign benefactors trailing behind them leaky puddles of nuclear radiated waste. Off shore. Under shore. Paulie Shore. Sho nuff is fine.
This de-reform has rendered us totally incognizant of which profligate special interest group is spending how much money for what candidate or why or when or where it's given. And our collective response is to care less than a whale about rain.
Orwell was right: Unenlightenment is strength. And with it comes the understanding of what it's like to be a mushroom. Kept in the dark and fed compost.
We revel in the delicious bewilderment of that knowing influence peddlers are scurrying around shadowy crevasses -- like cloaked, cash cockroaches -- and the light switch is broken.
What happened was, way back in the bad old days, Nixon committed the cardinal political sin of getting caught abusing campaign funds, so post-Watergate, Congress was shamed into replacing hard money with soft money, which slowly turned into liquid money, but now the floodgates have opened and that marvelous misty money is morphing into magic money, soon to transform into virtual money until Steve Jobs figures out a way to beam commercials straight into our heads.
And if that prospect doesn't drive you right into downtown Crazy Ville, then you were hitchhiking in its suburbs to begin with.
There are plenty of reasons why patrons would want to remain covert. They're shy. Afflicted with an unsightly rash. Currently enrolled in the Witness Protection Program. Breaking in a new toupee. Still haven't recovered from that ghastly spill in Gstaad. Still haven't recovered from that ghastly spill in the Gulf. But few of those excuses contribute to the public interest.
We are painfully aware that our politicians are -- How do I put this delicately? -- beholden to certain large contributors. A polite way of saying "hookers with the appetites of hippopotamuses in heat." But now the ante has been raised higher than a giraffe's ear. More ghost money means larger favors rewarded with a wider roped-off space at the public trough, forcing the rest of us to crowd around the short, rutted end. Knee-pads are destined to become standard issue behind every Congressional desk. If they aren't already.
The scariest part is, we're only seeing the tip of the secret-donor iceberg and the Ship of State's wheel has been splintered. If this flood of clouded currency proves successful, there aren't enough lifeboats in the Pacific Fleet to rescue us from these perilous waters. So you might want to whip out your shark-resistant water wings. Only one thing puzzles me: if ignorance truly is bliss, why ain't I happier?
Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political columnist, who frequently tells jokes. On stage. He has performed around the world, and is a familiar pundit on television and radio. Will Durst's book, "The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing," is available from Amazon and other bookstores. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.