Backstory: For lawmakers, no more mutton cheeks

Now that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) of Illinois has suggested an ethics class for members of the US House of Representatives, a brief guide to what is and isn't ethical is essential. In that way our lawmakers can spend their time being ethical rather than wasting their time studying heavy ethics textbooks.

1. Gifts: No gifts greater than $5 can be accepted by Representatives unless the gift fits in a standard-sized wallet.

2. Golf: Representatives cannot accept free greens fees, although exceptions are made for golf courses in countries not beginning with the letter "X."

3. Tickets: Representatives shall reimburse all gifts of sporting events tickets where the national anthem is played on an accordion.

4. Dinners: Representatives are not allowed to accept meals in which chickpeas are an essential ingredient. (Ditto mutton cheeks.)

5. Clothing: Other than clip-on bow ties and silly golf caps, clothing "gifts" are allowed so long as no natural fabrics are used in the making of the clothing.

6. Campaign funds: Campaign funds shall not be commingled with funds for Sweet Sixteen or Bar Mitzvah parties.

7. Casino donations: All donations from native and non-native American casinos must be spent by the end of the year to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.

8. Hotel rooms: A 300-sq.-foot limit is placed on free hotel rooms. However, in cases where the lawmaker is a veteran of a foreign war or wanted to be a veteran of a foreign war, the size limit is doubled, and, if he or she really wanted to be a veteran, tripled.

Chuck Cohen is a satirist and advertising writer based in California.

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