This evening the tiniest of brownouts ate my longish piece on Bush signing the new Highway spending bill. I blame local teevee. Not for the Highway bill, although last week they were touting the fact that Indiana's share was going to rise from 92 cents on the dollar to 94--they said it like it represented a major coup--but because the Indiana State Fair opened Wednesday, which means the news hairdos redouble their efforts to tell you just how unbearably hot it is. They do this every frickin' year, like it's news that it's hot in August. "Will the heat affect Fair attendance?" has got to be among the top five reported stories of the year. Every year. I'm not sure why anyone is supposed to give a rat's ass about Fair attendence. Is there some danger they'll just decide not to have one next year? I'm not sure why I should care about that either. You've seen one cow, you've basically seen 'em all, has always been my motto.
I'll grant you, the last time I was actually in attendance at the Indiana State Fair was 1964, and I was in custody. I think that after about an hour I tried to get my dad to give me the car keys and let me pick up the rest of the family later. I was only half joking. I knew even then that 10-year-olds couldn't drive. But I still feel pretty current with all the goings-on, because the damn thing gets wall-to-wall coverage on local news. This started about a decade ago. The Fair had hit hard times, much like similar bucolic enterprises such as Hee-Haw, to name just one. Somebody must have induced the locals to fluff the thing, because suddenly, besides the one hapless cub reporter they used to send to eat cotton candy on camera and interview children who'd already had far too much sugar, they started sending a weather person, who informed you it was hot. Now it's like the whole crew camps there for two weeks. And there's been a big image makeover. The Fair is no longer the grandaddy of all 4-H meetings with a supermarket parking lot carnival on the side. Now it's a celebration of cuisine with a pig barn attached. The big story each year--I am not making this up--is what commercial piece of shit candy or confection somebody is deep frying. Deep fried Twinkies. Deep fried Snickers. I'm not sure this stuff is even approved for human consumption, even when it isn't prepared for you by someone in a trailer with no running water or toilet facilities, and it's all anybody can talk about for two weeks. It's a fortnight of all the unbridled enthusiasm of a Star Trek convention applied to melted and re-congealed Cheez Whiz served on a stick.
The whole thing does make for a nice respite from all the Health Beat stories about obesity and the dangers of sunburn, though.
And that Highway bill? Boondoggle. Sixty-three hundred earmarked projects, or roughly one dozen for each Congressman. A nine-billion dollar rescission so that Bush could claim it met his tough fiscal stance, which apparently amounted to a threat to veto the thing (like he even knows how to do that) if it held so much gravy that Don Young literally burst before the signing. This is the candidate Bush who vowed in 2000 to appoint a commission to investigate pork barrel spending. The Republican party of the Contract With America. The small government, decisions are best made at the local level guys. I suppose we should be thankful we aren't building a highway to Mars, although maybe I shouldn't have said that out loud.