Lindsay Graham accepts lobby money, backs off child obesity 

Pig in a Poke: In a perfect world we'd all be the skinny popular kid with great teeth

Pig in a Poke: In a perfect world we'd all be the skinny popular kid with great teeth

In a perfect world we'd all be the skinny popular kid with great teeth

Many moons ago, F. Scott Fitzgerald didn't anticipate global media or U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Ind.) when he said, "There are no second acts in American lives."

The senator is one second act I wish would disappear, but it looks like he'll be a theme in the smart set's artistic license for at least the rest of the year, given a Minneapolis judge's refusal to vacate Craig's guilty plea for an airport restroom incident and Craig's decision to remain in office after promising to hit the road.

Take the Oct. 8 cover of The New Yorker in which Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is portrayed as being on the business end of some restroom toe-tapping following his ill-advised denials of the existence of homosexuals in his country to a Columbia University audience.

Last Thursday night, television viewers in 10 South Carolina midlands counties were treated to an advocacy advertisement on Fox, MSNBC, and CNN that was based on Craig's public restroom indiscretion. Sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the ad targets the problem of childhood obesity and the latest draft of the federal farm bill.

The ad shows an anonymous Congressman entering a public toilet stall and encountering the now-perfunctory toe-tapping. Said Congressman reaches down under the partition and receives bundle after bundle of cash from a giant pink pig as the voiceover decries the politicians' refusal to stand up to the agribusiness conglomerates because they don't want to lose farming campaign contributions.

The farm bill, which comes up for renewal every five years, is the penultimate U.S. government subsidy program. By paying farmers not to farm and buying their surplus crops, the bill stabilizes the price of agricultural commodities and keeps the price of these crops higher than they otherwise would be. Most of the surplus goods purchased by the government gets dumped into public school lunch programs in the form of fatty and corn syrup-based fast-food type selections like burgers, pizza, french fries, and chicken tenders.

The ad directs viewers to its website ( and lists the 20 members of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and how much money they received from farming lobbies and agribusiness conglomerates since 2000. Right smack dab in the middle of the list is the Palmetto State's own Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), with $181,365 — not the most, but certainly not the least.


On its website, the PCRM's mission statement that the group is a "nonprofit organization that promotes preventative medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research."

I'm guessing that the PCRM isn't on the Christmas list of Archer Daniels Midland Company, but I digress.

Graham's press monkey Kevin Bishop told The State that the senator was well aware of the current and looming slate of problems overweight children pose not only for their own health but for that of the republic, "but the creation of healthy school lunch menus is best handled by parents and educators in our local schools."

Since Americans decided generations ago to make the public schools the catch-all for the social ills we've managed to create for ourselves, we have a responsibility to fix it.

Graham isn't afraid to advocate unpopular causes (Iraq, Gang of 14, Upstate textile concerns, immigration reform), so I find his placement of childhood obesity on the back-burner to be a little curious. He is one of the few in Congress who knows personally the anxiety of providing for a family with limited resources.

Graham's dumping of the obesity problem on the doorstep of individual school districts has a modicum of validity, but it sounds as hollow as Larry Craig's twist on the "gay panic" defense.

Doesn't he know fat kids can't fight?

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