Funny Money: Transport Train Wreck

Autos, airlines and Amtrak race to the bottom. Plus, Guidant's romance, the Greenberg clan and many more corporate hijinks.
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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.

In honor of Veterans Day, I am writing this column wearing a camouflage negligee.

Speaking of romantic encounters,

Guidant's

(GDT)

value, appeal, and reputation have plummeted since its now-contested merger agreement with

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

. The medical device maker seems to have stolen my tactic for dating: Get in a relationship, then let yourself go. I've got several women who'll testify on my behalf.

Elsewhere in pharma-land,

King Pharmaceuticals

(KG)

has obtained the rights to sell an "abuse-resistant" form of OxyContin. What the hell is "abuse-resistant?" Any drug that works, that makes people feel better, can be abused. Maybe "abuse-resistant" means that the drug itself won't be offended if you yell at it.

In other M&A news this week, the

La Quinta

(LQI)

hotel chain accepted a $2 billion acquisition offer from the Blackstone Group, which explains why my $40

Priceline

(PCLN)

bid for a room in Tampa made my computer laugh.

San Francisco-based private equity firm

Golden Gate Capital

purchased

Geac Computer

(GEAC)

and will transfer its products to their Infor subsidiary, thus creating an army of abbreviated-name companies who'll destroy anyone who calls it "Frisco."

In political news, oil company executives on Capitol Hill warned that any attempt to tax their profits could have future ramifications. Academically speaking, this is the negotiating tactic known as "Fine, then I'll take my ball and go home."

Several spectators attended the hearings wearing "Expose

Exxon

"

(XOM) - Get Report

t-shirts. Wasn't "Exxon" the name of one of those Carolina Panthers cheerleaders?

Elsewhere in Washington D.C., the Supreme Court ruled that companies must pay workers for the time it takes to change into protective clothing and walk to workstations, but they can still arbitrarily take away health care and pensions and tell children that Santa isn't real.

In a related development, a House panel backed a one-year delay in forcing companies to follow stricter pension-funding rules. The House reasoned that, with at least four or five auto and air companies on the verge of bankruptcy, they should be given time to screw over their employees.

Speaking of which,

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

will restate its 2001 earnings by $400 million. The good news is that, by comparison, its current losses don't seem so bad.

Independence Air

(FLYIQ)

filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, proving that whoever named the airline wasn't very prescient.

What would I name my airline?

UPA: Underfunded Pension Air.

Meanwhile,

Amtrak

fired its president over his failure to keep the railroad the leader of incompetence in transportation. "We demand to be worse than airlines or cars!!" hollered weary board members stuck somewhere outside Schenectady.

Sins of the Father

In corporate news,

Pixar

(PIXR)

announced that its profits rose, then transmorphed into a dragon, a mermaid, and a Randy Newman song.

Blockbuster

(BBI) - Get Report

lost $490 million in the third quarter and blamed its "no late fees" policy, competition with

NetFlix

(NFLX) - Get Report

and ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown.

Luxury home builder

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Report

predicted that it would sell fewer homes than previously forecast and make less money than anticipated. And the market went into a tizzy!! How can you take seriously a prediction of a prediction? When I was 7, I predicted I'd be a fireman, at 15 a ballplayer, but at 22 my unanticipated movie-watching career put the kibosh on those forecasts. Yet no one cared about that ... except my parents.

Nissan

announced plans to move its North American headquarters from California to Tennessee, because it believes the Confederate flag means "Southerners love foreigners."

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who was born in Brazil and is of Lebanese descent, said in a statement:

I woke up a feeling mean, went down to play the slot machine. The wheels turned round and the letters read: Better head back to Tennessee, Jed. Tennessee, Tennessee, ain't no place I'd rather be. Baby won't you carry me ... back to Tennessee.

Freddie Mac

(FRE)

said it will reduce its early 2005 profit announcements. Apparently, the company's core competency is issuing restatements.

I earned $500 million dollars this year. Invest in me!

Flash forward two years:

I'd like to restate my 2005 earnings by about $500 million. Please bail me out.

American International Group

(AIG) - Get Report

asked for more time to announce financials so it can decipher the myriad financial structures of founder Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. It seems that one subsidiary was dissolved by Professor Plum in the library with a candlestick.

In chip-off-the-old-block news, Jeffrey Greenberg, former CEO of embattled

Marsh & McLennan

(MMC) - Get Report

(and Hank's son) has won a license to run a new reinsurer in Bermuda. Other new companies on the island: Michael Jackson's Day Camp for Confused Youth and O.J.'s House of Knives.

JP Morgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

announced the closing of company gyms. Now employees will have the option of using their bonuses on liposuction or embracing the company philosophy of getting so fat that they never leave work.

Speaking of Wall Street bonus season, bankers and traders expect large payouts this year. Since most of the world is about to financially implode, you'd think they keep that to themselves.

Oh, hello there, displaced orphan facing crippling national debt. Look at my shiny new watch!

I'm not pessimistic. I'm ... oh, what's the point?

Finally, newspaper circulation saw its biggest decline since 1991. More people, it seems, are getting their news from the Internet? How dare they!?

Hmm, what's that, editor man? I'm on the Internet?

Well, then, umm ... yeah, newspapers: They stink.

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;

click here

to send him an email.