by Peter Freyne
Earthquakes in China and Burma and Tibet. Tornadoes churning across the United States and America's airwaves are dominated by the stage-crafted presidential political horse race.
The "He Said-She Said" soap opera that sells advertising.
Every now and then they slip a little something in about the latest display of incompetence and felonious deceit in the White House, but, hey,it takes away from the flag-waving and the hand-shaking and the advertising.
And has anyone else noticed the absence of jokes in our daily discourse?
I'm not talking about stand-up comics, I'm talking about the jokes we used to hear and share on the way to work or school or in the lunchroom? The laughter once a key part of daily life in our human existence?
Over the past week, everyone I've asked - "Hear any good jokes lately?" - has drawn a blank. In fact, since George W. Bush moved into the White House, humor has been a stranger.
This decade will be remembered for many things, but "funny" won't be amongst them.
Finally, my inquiries did turn up this one from a UVM grad student moving out across the street. She said she got it from her father who passed it along to her as a joke to keep handy for moments such as these when they're in short supply:
The cop puts on the lights and siren and pulls him over.
"Excuse me, sir," says the cop. "You'll have to take that penguin to the City Zoo."
"Whatever you say," replies the driver.
Next day. Same cop. Same speed trap. Same dude with the penguin in the front seat drives past.
The cop pulls him over again.
"Hey, I thought I told you yesterday that you had to take that penguin to the Zoo?"
"I did, Officer," he replied. "And today I'm taking him to the Art Museum."