Funny Money: Afraid of Worms

Energy prices prompt consumer action while Roger Ailes gets some long overdue recognition.
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Editor's Note: Welcome to "Funny Money," a feature written by New York-based comedian Jeff Kreisler. Lest there be any confusion, please note that this column is a work of satire and intended for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy the weekend.

Despite sluggish results from retailers such as

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

and

The Gap

(GPS) - Get Report

this week, some economists remain optimistic. "Outside of energy, the consumer is fine," said an analyst at J.P. Morgan, adding, "outside of death, most corpses are fine" and "except for the pain, being on fire is super-duper."

Still, rising energy costs have forced some people to change their habits, as evidenced by an increase in carpooling, solar power, and homeowners building giant shelters to store oil -- expansion that helped keep the housing boom alive.

The consumer price index jumped 0.5% in July. While most economists pointed to high energy prices, analysts at the Philadelphia Stock Exchange blamed Terrell Owens.

In related news, the price of prescription drugs for the elderly rose faster than inflation for the third consecutive year, prompting angry seniors to get in their cars, forget where they're going, and drive 30 mph in the fast lane with their left-turn signal on.

On the corporate front, James Gorman was hired to run the individual investor group at

Morgan Stanley

(MWD)

. When asked to describe his long-term vision, Gorman said he hoped to "perform poorly enough to get a really massive severance package."

In a related story, Morgan Stanley announced that it would

not

spin off its Discover card business because it will need to put the next round of severance payments on plastic.

After Carl Icahn's attempts to get

Time Warner

(TWX)

to spin off its cable division, he got back on his Spanish horse and prepared to charge another windmill.

In other shareholder activism news, Daniel Snyder began a proxy fight with the directors of

Six Flags

(PKS)

amusement parks this week. But the self-made Snyder couldn't get past a sign outside the corporate HQ that says, "You must be 'this rich' to override this board."

Taxes? We Don't Pay No Stinking Taxes

New Internet "worms" attacked

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

Windows computers at media companies like CNN and ABC earlier this week. Hundreds of employees were unable to access the Internet and, as a result, productivity increased 10-fold.

In other media news, Roger Ailes, head of

News Corp.'s

(NWS) - Get Report

Fox News Channel, has been named the new chair of Fox Television. In a related development, Bill O'Reilly has won next year's American Idol.

Shareholders approved a $5.1 billion sale of

Neiman Marcus

(NMG.A)

, which disappointed spouses who thought it was a sale at Neiman Marcus.

Estee Lauder

(EL) - Get Report

reported that its profits fell 6.3% because of taxes it had to pay on overseas profits, to which the rest of corporate America responded, "You pay taxes?"

On a related note, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the deficit actually would decline 20% this year due to an unexpected surge in corporate income taxes. A spokesman said the gain will be realized "as soon as corporations pay their taxes," and then waited for the laughter to die down.

The selling price of

MCI

(MCIP)

to

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

may slip because of unpaid bills. MCI claims the charges are in error because it has rollover minutes.

AMD

(AMD) - Get Report

and

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

reached an agreement to research more powerful computer chips and develop snappier acronyms.

A relatively sleepy week ended in dramatic fashion when a Texas jury awarded $253 million in the wrongful death trial against

Merck's

(MRK) - Get Report

Vioxx drug. Legal analysts questioned the defense decision to plead with jurors: "Come on guys, have a heart."

Fellow pharma giant

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

announced that the German government will allow it to upgrade its plant there, provided that German athletes receive "training" from Pfizer spokesman Rafael Palmeiro.

The FDA allowed

Abbott Labs

(ABT) - Get Report

to continue selling the weight-loss drug Meridia, but warned that people with cardiovascular problems should not take the drug, and that patients should ask their doctor about Zoloft, Nexium, Propecia, Viagra, or any of the thousands of designer pharmaceuticals flooding the market. Or, in the alternative, people could just be happy with who they are ... just kidding!

A graduate of Princeton, Virginia Law School, and the fictitious College of Asparagus Lovers, Jeff Kreisler (www.JeffKreisler.com) is an accomplished comedian, writer, producer and person. In the past year, Jeff has worked with Dick Gregory, on Air America and Sirius Radio, and in the 'Comedy Against Evil' tour. He's hosted a dating show, worked on a cooking program, and developed comedies for MTV Networks. Jeff's a regular on Satire for Sanity, and was featured at the Edinburgh Fringe, Freedom Cinema, and San Francisco Comedy Festivals. He lives in New York City with his pet microphone, plays blues saxophone, speaks French and Russian, was a sports broadcaster, taught English in Russia, helped start a non-profit dedicated to at-risk youth, played college football, and is available for birthdays, circumcisions and bachelorette parties. Kreisler appreciates your feedback;

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to send him an email.