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You Are Dumb, which is not a blog, posts new columns every weekday, except for a couple of days each month when it doesn't. It is also a Twitter feed, @youaredumb, with content in a similar vein but much shorter. My spinoff food site, Forkbastard, can be found easily enough by the clever.
Archive - Jun 16, 2004
Memo to the USDA and Texas: YOU ARE DUMB.
It's like some horrible SAT question gone wrong:
Reagan : Ketchup :: Bush : French Fries
It really is funny the way Dubya is choosing to take up the "Reagan legacy", by basically taking Reagan's evil ideas and then ratcheting up the stupidity to the breaking point. Reagan cut taxes so that there'd be no money for leftist social programs; Bush does the same, but throws in a $200 billion war on top. Reagan surrounded himself with crooks and politicians on the take, Bush surrounds himself with crooks and politicians on the take from the crooked and corrupt companies they "used to" work for. Reagan slowly deteriorated into a drooling vegetable, Bush came roaring out of the gate with the mental capacity of an underfed zucchini.
Which, in a borderline-masterful segue, brings us to the regular kind of vegetables. Reagan tried to get ketchup classified as a vegetable for nutritional purposes in school lunches, and failed. Bush's USDA, two decades later, has gotten ketchup's symbiotic partner, the batter-dipped, deep-fried French Fry, classified as a "fresh vegetable". And in an unlikely triumph of Bush administration subtlety, managed to do it a YEAR AGO, and nobody noticed.
It only came out now, a year later, because someone stood to lose some money off of it. Specifically, Fleming Companies, who makes batter-dipped french fries, and is now bankrupt. The serpentine bankruptcy laws treat companies differently if they sell fresh fruits and vegetables, you see. They owe more money if french fries are fresh, so they took the USDA to court over it. This is apparently what Republicans mean by allowing market forces to self-regulate. As soon as the mass warping of the fabric of reality and the meanings of words impacts someone financially, they will then work to correct things so that "fresh vegetable" and "batter-dipped, deep-fried, frozen hunk of starch" are no longer synonyms.
Except that they sued in Texas. And in Texas, food comes in two classifications: Hacked From The Still Warm Quivering Flesh Of A Cow And / Or Steer, and Fresh Vegetable. So the Texas judge had no problems going along with the french-fry industry's argument that chopping up a potato, dipping the pieces in batter, frying them in oil, and then freezing the result is no different than waxing a cucumber. Yee. Haw.
Representatives from the USDA, dimly aware of an epic public relations clusterfuck, were quick to reassure the American public that the ruling did not apply to nutrition, only to laws involving commerce. That's comforting. They're only behaving in a completey insane way in order to pander to huge food-processing conglomerates! They're not expecting anyone to actually BELIEVE that a batter-dipped french fry is a fresh veggie, they just want to call it one so that their corporate friends can use the loophole to get more money!
In a related story that is not real but instead invented to set up the standard comedy premise of taking the already ludicrous real-life example and extending it to other products, tortilla chips will be considered "corn on the cob" for purposes of interstate commerce, the Wonder corporation will now be receiving subsidies for all the "wheat" it "grows", and employees are now designated as "children" for tax purposes, allowing your company to claim you as a dependent. But don't worry. When it comes to school lunches, tortilla chips, Wonder bread, and human employees will retain their scientifically determined nutritional value. At long last, somebody thought of the children.