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.Wow, I can't leave you people alone for even a week, can I? I take a little time off, and all heck breaks loose. General Motors tested missiles with Renault, North Korea head-butted the Italian price of oil, and Ken Lay used a body double to escape to Lichtenstein, er, I mean, he "passed away." "Without laughter, there is only madness." That's what Nietzsche would've said, especially if he'd faced six days of rain on his Tahitian honeymoon like I did. But I digress. I'm back. Stuff happened this week. Stuff that was, well, funny. Hank Paulson was sworn in as Treasury secretary and promptly began asking about severance packages. Several companies are challenging WebMD with health care Web sites, which is great because the radiation from my computer screen should wipe out the tumor caused by my cell phone. Kraft will buy the United Biscuits Group in attempt to create the world's most powerful hors d'oeuvre. Ten executives from Take-Two Interactive exited the troubled maker of video games like Grand Theft Auto. Three were run down in the street, four were shot in a bad drug deal, two were caught stabbing a hooker and this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home. Oil prices have prompted investors to look closely at alternative fuels like corn and soybeans. Tofu-flavored popcorn? That will certainly produce some kinda gas. Yum! Former Victoria's Secret executive Deborah Fine was named head of iVillage, the Web site for women, because, as all good 1950s Americans know, the best way to empower women is to teach them to be the media's idea of sexy. The NYSE fined Van Der Moolen for overbilling, though the exchange should've known something was up when the company introducing itself as "Van Der Moolah."
Some guy blew up his apartment in Manhattan because of nasty divorce proceedings. Um, I just got married. Is there something I should know? Is this what happens? China's record trade surplus stirred alarm in the U.S. Stirred alarm, sure, but unfortunately, it didn't create a better education system, skilled workers or progressive taxation, remove ideological barriers to scientific innovation or even, say, pay off my credit cards. Therefore, it was no good. Hey, the deficit's not as bad as we thought it might be! Hey, the basement's not flooding as fast as we thought it might. Sure, that's because it's almost full, but the slowdown in flood is worth celebrating. Right? Right? Hello? El Presidente claimed his tax cuts were responsible for the not-as-bad-as-we-thought deficit. True. They are partly responsible for the deficit, but, semantically speaking, not as he'd like us to think. Also, considering the "better" numbers are due to unexpected tax revenues, which are the opposite of tax cuts, um, that's, uh, well, no. The IEA called on China to curtail its energy use, then asked the U.S. to "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond." R.I.P. Syd Barrett, guy from Pink Floyd. I learned many things with, around, near, in and on top of your music, most of which I'll deny should I ever have children. India halted its privatization program. Ugh! Who's a well-connected apparatchik gotta bribe to embezzle state property for a mountainside villa around here? People, my Mercedes is idling!! Consumer credit rose $4.4 billion in May. I apologize. Most of that went to pay for my wedding band. Have I mentioned that I just got married? Alcoa's revenue was below expectations, though the company said it "Can't wait, for tooo-morrooooow." Anyone else remember the Alcoa-sponsored "Fantastic Finishes" near the end of NFL games? What happened to those? Also, anyone seen my childlike innocence? What about my hope, faith and taste for non-alcoholic beverages? Anyone? Anyone?
The Justice Department is urging a judge to approve the recent telecommunications regulations so that it's easier to track my calls to South Jersey. The House passed a bill to ban most online gambling. Exempted from the bill: state lotteries, horse-track betting and waking up each and every day to face an uncertain future. The House also allowed any credit-rating company in business for three years to become a "nationally recognized statistical rating organization." Phew. I was worried all the identity-theft fear would stop sketchy organizations from getting my personal info. Come 2009, I'll be protected by "Pedro's Credit Rating Service and Auto Supply." Boston's famed Filene's will be sold. Without the Basement, where will middle-aged women go to trample each other for a $10 blouse? The EU fined Microsoft for failing to comply with orders to provide information to competitors. In response, Microsoft will bundle Windows Vista with The Third Reich, Version 2.0. A grand jury indicted three people for trying to sell Coca-Cola secrets to PepsiCo. The secret ingredient? Despair. The CEO of Williams-Sonoma resigned after I berated him for not allowing people to buy my bedding online. Why would you do that? A sale's a sale. My people don't have time to go to "stores!" Rumors circulated that Disney might slash movie productions. What about the children? Who will teach them to be cute, sassy and precocious! Expedia will partner with Conde Nast to provide more obstacles to getting cheap airfare. I just want to go to Cincinnati, people. Don't make this harder than it already is. Good news, stolen candy-bar lovers! Wal-Mart has raised the minimum amount for shoplifting prosecution to $25! Raising the minimum wage and the hopes of employees? Not so much.
A banker tied to the Enron case was found dead in London this week. I guess he and Ken Lay wanted a jump on price manipulation in the next world. Sea of Burning Souls, meet Rolling Blackouts. Now that it's certain the company has made plenty of money, the Army will review some of the contracts granted Halliburton. Xstrata increased its bid for Falconbridge, put pressure on Inco and Phelps Dodge, caused 007 to get his martini stirred, and reminded me why I agreed to write this column in the first place.