Deconstructing DC

In which our man Durst explores the crookedest little town in America.

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WASHINGTON, DC — I love this city. It’s the Florence of malfeasance. The largest Superfund site in the world. A work-free drug zone. In what other city do you always have to worry your best friend might be wearing a wire? And you’ve got to admit they’ve made incredible strides in the war on poverty. Mock if you will, but who else has managed to do such a good job of isolating it by color?

You can get marble poisoning here just thinking of all the great stone monuments. I’m thinking; the Vietnam Memorial, the Jefferson Monument, and Strom Thurmond. And now, because of the ongoing refurbishing, the Washington Monument is all wrapped up in a shroud, so the president is able to look out his back window and see a 550-foot condom staring back at him. And they say there’s no justice.

This is the town where Trent Lott said he was against raising the minimum wage because it would mean a rise in black youth unemployment and not a single person in attendance laughed. Lets all take a second to let that one sink in. Trent Lott, worried about black youth unemployment. Isn’t that a lot like a turkey vulture distressed about the increasing phenomena of wounded mice? Sure Trent Lott wants to work with Clinton. The same way a five-year-old with a magnifying glass wants to “work with” ants.

And its perfectly obvious our politicians know that we the public trust Washington about as far as we can fling hot glue. The two leading presidential candidates are tripping over themselves like three-legged gazelles in a ball-bearing spill trying to prove which of them is “outsider-er than thou,” even though one is the son of a senator and the other the son of a president. Proving that, in America, anyone can grow up to be president as long as they’re an Ivy League white guy whose father was once in a position to either nominate or confirm a Supreme Court justice.

The 106th Congress, or as I like to call it, “The Hall Of Invertebrates,” is scheduled to come back in a couple of days, and I’d sooner skip naked through Yankee Stadium with $100 bills duct-taped to my body on Bat Night than count on any important legislation from these liquid squeezebags. I’ve seen more exciting hedge trimmings.

We have come to trust our elected officials to exhibit greed and petty underhandedness; after all, they’re paid to represent us. But this bunch is so out of touch, it’s like playing “Family Feud” with surveys taken during the Restoration. We’re talking about people living so far in the past, I’m constantly surprised every time I find they don’t have buckles on their shoes and flat globes in their offices.

But in a nation where only 35 percent of the electorate can actually be bothered to go to the trouble of voting, maybe Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, “America gets the leaders it deserves.” From this, one would have to assume we have been a very naughty nation recently. And one would probably be right.

Will Durst, performing at the DC Improv this week, thinks maps of the Eastern seaboard should have notations that say “Here there be serpents” where DC is.

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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