Last week, standing in a tree on a ziplining platform forty feet above the St. Lucian rainforest, I let my mind drift between the chopping winds of the Atlantic Ocean and the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
“Would it be at all funny,” I asked Laura, “for some American stand up comedian to do a bit on carbon dioxide and deforestation?”
“On what planet,” she leered, “would that be funny?”
“I was thinking something along the lines of American attitudes. You know, ‘we’re producing all this CO2 and the trees are the ones benefiting,’ kind of a thing. Then they’d say something about cutting down more trees to discourage the trees from using so much of the CO2 we produce. Like, ‘that’ll learn ‘em‘. Could that be funny?”
She looked at me for few seconds, and as she started shaking her head the guide pushed her off the platform. She let out a short yelp of surprise and careened on the zipline down to the next tree while I felt a breeze wind its way through my sweaty helmet. The vibrating sound of the zipline faded out over the forest canopy until I could hear the birds again. Then they strapped me in and I followed, flinging myself out into the jungle.
Not a week later now, back in the city and hounded by taxes, car commercials and obnoxious ringtones, I’m faced with the raw and brutal truth of reality; that embarassing fist in the gut that explodes in your throat when you think you’re in the middle of telling a savage joke but it turns out that there is no joke. You’re living it.
“It’s plant food,” Rep. John Shimkus said at a House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. “So if we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere?”
No way, I thought. I was just kidding. And besides, when I said ‘comedian’, I certainly wasn’t thinking of the House of Representatives as a Monday night comedy club.
…though, now that I just wrote that it occurs to me, why not?
Rep. Shimkus (R-IL) is among the many half-mad greedheads that try to argue that the United States doesn’t need a cap-and-trade system to limit CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. Frankly, cap-and-trade is not my tag line — I’m alright with just ‘cap’. But as an issue, my general position on it is that we have bigger fish to fry.
In any case, I was struck dumb by the terrible babbling that continued. Is it possible that this cheap clown on television is just that ignorant and stupid? Or is it the usual evil, pushing through a failing agenda, even at the cost of common decency?
Is there any way to know? Can we continue to laugh, or was Mohammad Ali right when he said, “there are no jokes. The Truth is the funniest joke of all”?