Quite an indictment

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Major, historic news broke last week, and I hope you're sitting down for this. Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales were indicted.

What the ... who?! Wait a minute - we can do that? And we're just thinking of it now?

What did they get Cheney for - another face shooting? Or did that first face-shooting guy die? It's got to be big, right? My head says second-degree manslaughter, but my heart says ... slavery.

The indictment says there's a "money trail of Cheney's prison-related businesses." Huh, so Cheney has prison-related businesses. Is there any unpleasant aspect of our society this guy isn't making money off of?

Let's guess what prison-related business Cheney is in trouble for. Is it:

A) Exploitative conditions at Cheney's Chain-Gang Experience for Kids?

B) Health-code violations at the snack bar he runs in Texas' Lethal Injection Viewing Room?

C) Tax evasion at Halliburton Dick's Waterboard and Bad-Time Jailateria? Or ...

D) He has an investment in a company that has an investment in a company that runs some prisons where there have been allegations of inmate abuse.

Sadly, the answer is D. By the way, A, B and C are all real Cheney businesses, they're just perfectly legal.

Fire power

Turns out, it's not so easy to punish individuals for wrongdoing. And I'm not just talking about criminal judgments. It's hard for our elected officials to even police themselves.

Two recent examples had me wondering: What exactly do you have to do to get fired?

First up, Sen. Joe Lieberman - old Droopy Dog - the fourth-term senator from the Nutmeg State who became famous during his failed presidential run in 2004.

Of course, that was when Lieberman was a Democrat. Before he threw his considerable Joe-mentum behind the McCain/Palin ticket, and took to bashing Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

A couple of his choice campaign-time remarks: "Is, notwithstanding his celebrity status, Barack Obama ready to lead? My answer is no." "Eloquence is no substitute for a record."

Now, with the election over, Democrats had a chance to claim their vengeance. Did they take it? Of course not. Lieberman is going to keep his coveted chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee.

So betrayal doesn't get you fired. How about felony convictions?

Take old Ted Stevens, the 70-term senator from Alaska. Turns out, his famed Bridge to Nowhere was actually going to Bribeytown - last month, Stevens was convicted on seven felony counts.

Now Stevens had to face the wrath of law-and-order Republicans. They've got a taste for blood and a convicted felon in the Senate. You've got to figure he'd be out.

But then came word from Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell that Republicans had agreed to postpone looking into the matter until they learned the outcome of his re-election bid.

Easy, everybody - he's just a seven-time felon. It's not like he's an eight-time felon.

In the end, Stevens lost to Democrat Mark Begich. Thank you, people of Alaska. Senate Republicans almost had to act ethically. Bullet dodged.

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