You gotta love this whacky country! Sure, maybe we're headed for a suicidal and unnecessary default on the national debt that will have effects worldwide and probably end life upon this planet as we know it. But meantime a guy named Greg Otto has made me smile, and a bunch of whacky truckers have made me laugh out loud.
Let's start with the truckers. On Monday or Tuesday (nobody seems sure when) some one or ten or maybe a hundred of them announced they were so angry at Obama about something or other that "all truckers" are going to drive to Washington D.C. on Thursday in their big rigs and entirely block the Beltway and arrest Congressmen.
Yes, they are mad at Obama but intent on arresting Congressmen. Remember, it's their story, not mine. (My cousin was a long-haul trucker, a great guy, and he never made any sense either.) I'm also not responsible for the vagueness of the whole thing. The only requisite who, what, where, when of their announcement that was specific was Thursday.
USA Today, Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, The Washington Post, and MSNBC's Ed Schultz jumped all over this story. Very strange bedfellows!
But by late this afternoon three things had happened. Someone among the angry truckers sobered up and said it wasn't true. The national truckers association disavowed any connection with the shindig. And a lovely man named Greg Otto at the Washington Business Journal published a piece that said the whole thing was "a fantasy" because even if it wasn't a hoax, as suspected elsewhere, it sure was logistically impossible.
Now get this. Greg had been a busy guy with paper and pencil and his calculator. He had figured out that it would take 6983 big rigs. To do this he'd figured out the average length of a rig, even gone out into the field to do what reporters seldom now do, i.e. check the facts. He'd then calculated miles per gallon and determined the astronomical cost of gas for this fleet of behemoths circling D. C. on the Beltway at 55 mph and how long it would take them. He had it all down to the last mile and the last penny. His conclusion: it can't be done.
What a guy! You all know I love figures and arithmetic, that I adored that guru of calculation: Nate Silver, the one analyst who called the 2012 election right on the bean. (Except for North Carolina, but who cares.) But Nate has abandoned us political fans for sports stats on ESPN. If it weren't so sad to be abandoned by Nate, I'd be hooting about his switch from politics to sports as also being an indicator of what a wild and crazy country this is.
I love you, Greg Otto. In the face of wacky and enraged threats you just sat down and worked the numbers. And all the air goes out of the tires of this awful menace. You are so cool. Could you do something like that about John Boehner and the Tea Party threats in Congress, just reduce them to what they really are: blithering idiots who know not whereof they speak and couldn't grasp a number if it bit them on the thumb. Could you just take the real measure of their rig?
Somebody has got to deflate these Tea Party nut jobs to what they are. And what they are makes the truckers look like Einstein.
Another thought: Where is Burt Reynolds when we need him?