Saturday, October 04, 2008

Lend Me Your Earmarks: A Quiz

The 451-page bailout bill is loaded with earmarks. Earmarks are governmental gifts, either through the direct dispersal of funds or the granting of tax exemptions. Even our simplest bills are chock full of these little presents to companies, states, and groups of people.

In a more honest country, the insertion of earmarks would be seen for what it is: blackmail. A senator or representative says to his or her colleagues: “Gee, I’d really like to vote for the bill authorizing the funds needed to explode that asteroid hurtling towards Earth. But, golly, I can’t do so unless you let my friends in the toilet bowl industry get a tax break on their kids’ Halloween costumes.”

All of our congresspeople claim to despise earmarks. But the extortion continues. Why?

I think it's because references to earmarks permeate our culture. In the following quiz, for example, I’ve isolated ten products, services, places, or groups for whom earmarks were sneakily entered into the bailout bill. Your job is to correctly identify the earmark recipient in each quote. As an extra help, I’ve given the source of each item, plus the page number on which the earmark appears in the bill. (Warning: not all the earmarks in the bill are referred to in the exact same words I’ve used.)

Just one answer per comment, please. And no more than two answers in total per commenter.

  1. Bring me my earmarks of desire!
    (William Blake – p. 300. Sec. 503)

  2. If such as came for earmark, sir, went home shorn,
    Where is the wrong I did them?
    (Robert Browning – p. 295, Sec. 325)

  3. De Camptown earmark five miles long
    Oh doo dah day.
    (Stephen Foster – p. 290, Sec. 317)

  4. There’s nought, no doubt, so much the spirit calms
    As earmark and true religion.
    (George Gordon, Lord Byron – p. 279, Sec. 308)

  5. No one ever went broke in earmark underestimating the intelligence of the public.
    (Elsa Maxwell – p. 298, Sec. 502)

  6. In a cavern, in a canyon,
    Excavating for a earmark
    (Traditional – p. 280, Sec. 310 & 311)

  7. The earmark [2 words] is miles away,
    And the day is loud with voices speaking
    (Edna St. Vincent Millay – p. 289, Sec. 316)

  8. I could never tell for sure whether I was in America or Earmark.
    (Paul Theroux – p. 279, Sec. 309)

  9. One little, two little, three little earmarks
    (Traditional Children’s Song – p. 288, Sec. 314 & 315)

  10. She stood in tears among the alien earmark
    (John Keats – p. 182, Sec. 202)
I'm hoping you don't bail out on this quiz. So, I'm promising all correct answerers a tax exemption — as soon as I'm elected to Congress.

[Update (as of 10/06/08, 1:15 p.m. EDT): Fictional Treats from the Federal Treasury for — Gareth McCaughan (#1); DB (#3); yinyang (#4); yunshui (#5); Chicken Girl (#6); yinyang (#8); 1minionsopinion (#9); Gareth McCaughan (#10)]


Gareth McCaughan said...

OK, so "the last shall be first". #10 is biodiesel -- which Keats, obviously not recognizing the word but working out how it is made, turned into "alien corn".

The Exterminator said...

Aw, you answered the hardest one. Just for that, you've won a lifetime supply of Corn Chex -- assuming that some of the grain will still be grown for use in food. Otherwise, you might have to settle for shredded wheat.

Anonymous said...

I can only say I know #9 for certain - three little Indians. I actually remember singing that. I don't know why they had to be Indian boys, but I suppose it made the meter sound better..

I wonder if kids learn that one now.

Now it's in my head. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I know number 3, too, but I'll let someone else have the honours.

The Exterminator said...

You're correct on number 9. They had to be Indians because "Native Americans" didn't fit the rhythm of the tune. Of course, "atheists" would have scanned equally well, but we wouldn't want children saying that word, would we?

Chicken Girl said...

#6 is "mine".

The Exterminator said...

Yes, it is yours.

DB said...

#3 racetrack

Blazing Saddles ftw

the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

Is #7 Samoa?

the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

And, is #4 rum?

The Exterminator said...

Did you "jump around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots" when you got that correct answer?

Earmark #7 is not Samoa. But you're right about #4. However, I can't give you any tax breaks on rum because you're not old enough. But how's this: You can deduct half the amount spent on your root beer consumption?

the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

Oh, darn. I meant, "Is #8 Samoa?"

The Exterminator said...

Well, you're correct -- this time -- on #8. I'd say that you're coming of age very nicely.

DB said...

No dance here because "my mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives".

The Exterminator said...

Gol-darnit, DB, you use your tongue prettier than a Republican vice presidential candidate.

PhillyChief said...

Congratulations on being the only one in the country whose not a recipient of this money to find an amusing use for the bailout plan.

Anonymous said...

as soon as I'm elected to Congress

I thought you were running for president?

Gareth McCaughan said...

Is #10 really the hardest? I picked it because it seemed like it was middling-hard, at least on the basis of how familiar the poetry was. (Meaning: I know the missing words for about half of the snippets, and I thought #10 was the most obscure of the ones I knew.)

Anyway, from last to first: #1 is "arrows", specifically wooden arrows for children.

The Exterminator said...

I certainly wasn't able to find any financial benefit in the bailout.

I thought you were running for president?
I guess you're not keeping up with the news. I'm also running for Congress. And Governor of several states. And Mayor of a few mid-size cities. And, of course, Dogcatcher of Wasilla. They have a crazy untamed bitch running wild up there, and I'd like to keep her off Main Street before she does any real damage.

You're right on #1. What I'd like to know about that particular earmark is: What about makers of wooden bows? Is there a glut of those on the toy market and a dearth of arrows? Or is the earmark only for companies who make those gag wooden arrows that look like they're going right through a person's head? If you ask me, those would be an appropriate fashion statement for most of our elected representatives.

yunshui said...

I'm late to the party, it seems... but I'm pretty sure 5. is "Hollywood".

The Exterminator said...

I'm late to the party, it seems ...
... but we saved you some of the California roll. "Hollywood" is correct.