Issue number 43 July 11, 2002
Quorum of One is intended for adult readers
The Scandal Page
(formerly The Financial Page)
Ever since the Enron debacle, the WorldCom cataclysm, the Xerox apocalypse, the Merck meltdown and the Cheney chicanery, more and more corporations large and small in America and around the world have been admitting to irregular accounting practices designed to inflate their profit statements. Ever concerned with its readers' right to know, This Publication has dispatched a team of cub reporters to badger the top dogs of the financial world and ferret out cases of fiscal snakiness wherever they might be found.
Outfoxing security, our intrepid investigators would pussyfoot past the gorillas in the lobby and weasel their way into the executive suites of the country's mammoth corporations, where they would hound the lions of industry in a dogged effort to bare the truth.
Editor: That's what I was afraid of...
They did not do this on a lark. Working like beavers, slugging away, never slothful, never cowed, never horsing around, they buffaloed their pigeons until their fate was sealed and they began to 'owl for...
Editor: David! Stop it already!
Me: Bugging you, huh?
Editor: You're driving me batty! Oh, now you've got me doing it! Let's just get on with the news, shall we?
Me: Oh, all right. Here goes:
Bruce Keys, general manager, sales manager, personnel manager, financial director, COO, CFO, CEO and sole full-time employee of Keys' Landscaping, East-Northeast Saint Louis, Indiana, has been charged in federal court with overstating his company's 2001 pre-tax earnings by $40,000. The incriminating statements were made at Al Pine's Tap at the corner of Schott and Chaser, where Keys is a regular, mostly on weekend evenings between 10:30 and midnight. When arraigned before a federal grand jury, Keys pled not guilty and explained, "Aw, I was just bragging -- no harm intended. I figured that if WorldCom could put a 4% dent in the Dow when they inflated their profit statements by $4 billion then I could bring the market down by 0.00004% if I said I grossed 40 grand more than I really did. I thought Jacquelyn might be impressed. Guess I was wrong." Jacquelyn Uresis, who is the night manager at Al's as well as the "whistle blower" who first alerted authorities to the irregularities in Keys' statements, commented, "If Bruce wants to impress me so much he could de-flate his bathroom scale's statements by about 40 pounds and put a dent in his $400 bar tab."
Zimba, the tiger of the children's choosing rhyme that begins "Eeny-meeny-miney-mo", may be charged in federal court with literally thousands of counts of fraud after a recent audit revealed that he has failed to comply with the financial guidelines stipulated in his corporate charter. The allegations focus on the fourth line of the famous playground quatrain, which specifies that, upon capture "by the toe" and subsequent to verbal protests on his part, Zimba could be induced to remit "fifty dollars every day." When called in to audit the tropical predator's provisional second quarter financial statement, the recently-founded Stockholm-based consulting group Anders R. Thorson discovered irregularities in his business practices. A spokesman for the firm reports, "It seems that Mr. Zimba was taking advantage of a simple verbal misunderstanding. The original charter specified a per diem of fif-teen US dollars, not fifty." When most children using the rhyme began citing the higher figure, Zimba did nothing to discourage the misconception, thus making himself liable for fraud by tacitly overstating his fees. In a statement to the press, the beleaguered feline explained, "I just wanted to provide a persuasive incentive for kids to use my rhyme instead of 'Engine Engine Number Nine' or one of those unwieldy age-based methods like 'Blue Shoe' or 'Apples Peaches Pears and Plums'." It remains unclear what effect, if any, the furry felon's revelations will have on the designation of team rosters for popular games such as Freeze Tag, Dodge Ball, Red Rover and Lick the Crack Vial.
Newly-Discovered Scroll Casts Doubt on Disciple's Earnings
A 1,892-year-old scroll discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea last week, identified as a previously unknown annotated version of the Gospel According to Saint Mark, seems to indicate that early Christian-disciple-turned-Roman-informer Judas Iscariot overstated his earnings for the final quarter of Christ's life by 20 pieces of silver (or $4 billion when adjusted for inflation). The scroll, which is believed to have been written by an apprentice working for 2M El-Jay Sanctified Scrolls Ltd. in around 110 AD, contains marginal comments and footnotes that were not included in the version of Mark that ultimately became the second chapter of the New Testament. In the passage that describes Roman authorities offering Judas thirty pieces of silver for singling out his spiritual adviser Jesus of Nazareth with a kiss, the number "thirty" is scratched out and replaced by a crudely-scrawled "ten?!" followed by an asterisk. The asterisk refers to a note at the bottom of the scroll in what is thought to be Mark's own handwriting, which reads:
"I don't know if we should go with this thirty pieces of silver business. Everybody says thirty, but that's only because right before Easter Judas was seen hanging out in the inns and bath houses in Gomorrah for like three weekends in a row, buying everybody amphora after amphora of wine and bragging about how he had 'pulled off a big score with the Romans.' People just assumed that he must have earned about 30 pieces of silver based on the amount of booze he ordered, but I have it on good authority that he stiffed the innkeepers for almost everything he owed them. I checked with Matt and he thinks the figure is more like ten, and I say let's go with that. Note to Fawn and Rosemary: Be sure to send this scroll to the printers and dump that other one with the first draft on it in the cave."
Brownie the Wonder Horse Embroiled in Over-Tapping Scandal
Brownie the Wonder Horse, the star attraction of the "Six Flags Over Wherever" traveling sideshow, has been charged in federal court with faulty accounting practices and barred from further public appearances pending a full investigation. Brownie's act consists of performing simple mathematical calculations by tapping out the answers with his right forehoof. A team of independent auditors called in to verify the equational equine's figures reported that Brownie's responses to simple questions such as "How much is seven minus four?" were invariably correct. The allegations stem from his handling of the final question in each 15-minute show, when Brownie's handler would ask, "How many nice people came to see us today?" Surveillance cameras revealed that at this point, the unscrupulous ungulate would habitually overstate his attendance ratings by as much as 23%, apparently in an attempt to receive an extra apple after the show.
"We're not sure yet what kind of sanctions Brownie will face," reported SFOW manager Pete Sufface. "But one thing's for sure: we can't just overlook this kind of financial misconduct or our other performers will think they can get away with it too. The Fat Man will walk all over us. The Human Torso will try to get his hand in the cookie jar."
Editor: Don't start!
"What if the trapeze artist starts padding her overhead? What if the bearded lady starts a hedge fund?"
Editor: I'm warning you!
"What if the high dive artist starts skimming from his liquidity? Or deducting his VAT? What if the tightrope walker exaggerates his net margin?"
Editor: Good thing I bought this blowgun kit on E-Bay...
"What if the sword swallower demands a bigger cut? What if the plate spinner maxes out his revolving credit? And the Human Cannonball -- if we're forced to bring charges who knows what kind of impact he could have?"
Editor: All right, you asked for it!
"What if the fire eater starts blowing smoke up our..."
Me: OWW!! What the hell was that?!
Editor: A tranquilizer dart. You have about forty seconds to finish the issue, and I suggest that you don't waste it on any more of those carny puns.
Me: Those what?
Editor: Thirty-seven, thirty-six, thirty-five...
The only precedent for this situation is the 1973 case of Timmy vs. Barr-Finn-Deucing Productions Inc., in which the forrmer child starr of the populllar TV sh-show Lasssie, thenn in hiss lllate twentiess, ssssued hiss forrmmerrr prro-du-cerss forrr ex--aggerrra-ting . . . the nummmber of timmess the llit-tllle ssnot h-had to get . . . ssssaved byyy hisssss ownnnn . . . dog, therrreby rrredu--cing h-hissssss channnnncesssss of ge-ge--getttting llllllaid by annnn esssssstmmmmaaaated ffffffffffiifffffffty---eieieieieight perrrrrrrrrrrr---ceeennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn...
Editor's note: David seems to have fallen asleep. We'll have him back in shape (and his right mind) in time for the next issue. I hope.
Hey, wait -- was that the "fleeing felon" tranquilizer dart or the "bull walrus" anesthetic?
¨©2002 by David Jaggard