The Price Is Right — Washington's Version

Let’s say you own a little business.  Any kind of business.  It doesn’t matter.  And let’s say you need a permit from the city to expand.  You are painfully aware that the process of getting permission from the bureaucracy can be cumbersome and take a long time, But you need the permit now.  If you don’t expand you may go under. So you decide to bribe some low-level government functionary in order to grease the skids.  Okay, now here’s the short version of what may very well happen after that:  They arrest you, indict you, put you on trial, convict you, and send you to prison. And if the government official decides to take the bribe, he can be your cell mate.


Too bad you’re not a United States senator.  Because if you were, you’d be in Fat City.  Let’s say you’re a Democratic senator from Nebraska and your name is Ben Nelson.  Now let’s say the Senate’s Majority Leader, Harry Reid, needs your vote on an important piece of legislation – oh, maybe … healthcare.  You’re no dunce, so you decide to hold out until he pays you off, which he gladly does, since it’s not his money he’s throwing around.  It’s tax money, which is everybody’s money, which is another way of saying it’s nobody’s money.  He offers to pay all your state’s Medicaid costs associated with the new healthcare legislation.  That’s a lot of money.  Hundreds of millions of dollars – a year.  Every year.  Forever!  So you vote the way he wants you to.  And here’s the best part:  unlike the poor schnook with the small business who bribes the government functionary in some dark alley, this bribe takes place in broad daylight.

Or let’s imagine that you’re a senator whose name is Mary Landrieu and you’re a Democrat from Louisiana.  You not only get hundreds of millions of dollars shoveled into your state in exchange for your vote on healthcare, but you get to tell reporters, “I know people don’t believe this, but I can’t be bought.”

She’s right.  People don’t believe it.

These crooks aren’t even embarrassed.  Hey, they say, that’s the way business is done in Washington, which just happens to be the God’s honest truth.  In fact, Harry Reid told reporters after a crucial vote that any senator who didn’t get goodies is not a very good senator.  “There are 100 senators here and I don’t know that there’s a senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that isn’t important to them,” Reid said. “If they don’t have something in it important to them then it doesn’t speak well of them.”

Get it?  You work hard, play by the rules, pay your taxes, so some crummy politician with a thin voice and a cheap suit can dole it out to whomever he has to buy off.  Ain’t America great?

The good news is that this is no big deal.  Just ask Senator Tom Harkin, a liberal Democrat from Iowa.  When asked about vote-buying in the Senate, Harkin told CBS News that it’s all “small stuff” – nothing more than a distraction from the real issue:  passing ObamaCare.

And earlier this year, when the Senate was debating the $700 billion dollar-plus so-called stimulus bill, which was loaded with pork, Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, said, “The American people really don’t care” about all those “little, tiny, yes porky amendments.”

You just thought you cared about how they spend your hard-earned money.  Silly you.

So what’s the lesson?  That’s easy:  If you’re a United States senator, do not vote – under any circumstances — on any important legislation unless you get paid off first.  Bribes are legal on Capitol Hill.  Don’t be a fool.  Let the leadership buy you off then hold a news conference and defiantly declare, “I cannot be bought off.”  Then under your breath, you can whisper, “Unless, of course, the price is right.”

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  • EddieD_Boston

    Don’t worry folks. There’s an election in 11 months.

  • Kathie Ampela

    Another great column, Bernie. We’ve always known that there is rampant corruption in Washington but thanks to Fox News and the Internet breaking things down in plain english that everyone can understand, we REALLY get it now! Looking forward to 2010 and seeing these crooks unemployed!

    Love the column you just posted from Brent Bozell of MRC (I’m a big fan of newsbusters!) The Obamagasm Award for Seeing Coolness In Everything Obama Does had me rolling! By the way, Bernie, wanted to let you know that I bought a “I don’t trust the lame stream media” mug from your store. Just my way of spreading the word! Have a happy new year!

  • Wil Burns

    Bernie never makes mistakes, never have doubts about what is good and true and right. He has all the answers. Look at the record. The Republicans were right about Social Security, about Civil Rights, about gays and communists taking over everything, about the mortal threat to THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE by the Islamo-Fascist/Marxists. Hell, in the last eight years they were right about Iraq and Afghanistan, about the economy, about New Orleans. The Republicans have always been right.

    Bernie is the supremely magnificent spokesman for the Republicans. He so eloquently state the obvious that we, the left, are hopelessly lost in the wilderness and all we need do is embrace the likes of Rush, Beck, Hannity, and Palin and him and walla, we’ll have been saved.

    So consider us saved. Bernie’s work here is done.

    • Tim Ned

      I thoroughly enjoy the ramblings of the extreme left, or right. Wil provides another great example here by providing his political ramblings oblivious of any facts. So Wil, let’s debate. Is Bernie wrong on his comments pertaining to Sen. Tom Harkin? Do you really believe that bribes in private industry are condoned? If so please share your facts! Or, enter the forum available to anyone visiting this site and create some topics for debate.

      But when you choose to debate on an issue such as New Orleans, do some research and don’t come in as a political pundit as you clearly are. Watch a movie such as “Hurricane on the Bayou” or read a book. Maybe then when a politician presents a point of view such as “An Inconvenient Truth”, you’ll learn to ask questions.

      • Wil Burns

        Tim Ned, I didn’t read about the disastrous Bush 8 years from Bernie. Bernie just cobbled a book about how the liberals were hurting America and nothing about Bush starting an unprovoked war, doubled the national debt, spied on the American people, let New Orleans drown and turned the United States into a nation of torturers.

    • EddieD_Boston

      Do you get what a fool you are? Oh, by the way, it was Southern democrats that fought against civil rights in the ’60s. The infamous Bull Connor was a democrat. As was George Wallace. Simple facts for the clueless. You continue to prove you’re a moron. You don’t see it do you?

      • Wil Burns

        EddieD, Don’t you realize that almost all of the racist Southern Democrats went to the Republican party, and the racist voters of the South certainly started voting Republican after the early 1960’s? Funny you talk about these bigots, apparently without realizing that they are the heirs of this conservative legacy! Now, who’s the fool, YOU!

        • Henry

          From the National Black Republican Association’s web site (

          The “Dixiecrats” Remained Democrats

          The so-called “Dixiecrats” remained Democrats and did not migrate to the Republican Party. The Dixiecrats were a group of Southern Democrats who, in the 1948 national election, formed a third party, the State’s Rights Democratic Party with the slogan: “Segregation Forever!” Even so, they continued to be Democrats for all local and state elections, as well as for all future national elections.

          • Wil Burns

            Yes, and they were all conservatives, not the liberals Bernie and you people hate dearly!

          • Henry

            Whatever you say, Wil, whatever you say…

          • Jeff

            (The scene: Wil Burns’ claims just got shot down, and attempts to save some face.) “Dammit, they were Republicans! Wait, you just disproved my claim…they were conservatives! Conservatives! (Wil turns beet-red) Liberal democrats aren’t bigots, they can’t be because conservatives are! (Wil takes deep breath) I don’t care that democrats condescend to black people and wish Judge Thomas dead while making a crack about black people and make un-Constitutional discriminatory judgments based on race and say that a Latina would make a better judge than a white man! (Wil stomps his foot) Conservatives are bigots because they’re conservatives! I don’t care if the historical record says otherwise! Conservatives are bigots, because I said so!” (Curtain)

          • Henry

            LOL! Thanks again, Jeff. I needed that! :)

  • Stephen Shields Springfield, IL

    Great article Bernie! The sad thing in all this is that Reid is now made out to be a Hero by the lamestream media, and Nelson’s actions have just been overlooked and ignored as if they were necessary. It kind of reminds me of Frost v Nixon. The movie was decent albeit pretty dull, but the scene where Nixon says that even though his actions were illegal they should be excused because he is the President is just assanine. These 2010 elections cannot come soon enough. This is what happens when there is an unfair an unbalanced press and a majority party who is hell bent on passing what ever they want simply for the historical significance, regardless of its cost, consequences, or means of getting accomplished.

  • Ellie

    Bureaucracies are like cancer – they move to a larger and larger area – slowly but surely. With the same income taxes as in the US – Canada and UK have universal health care – we in the US have HHS bureaucracy. The only thing bureaucrats know is how to create more bureaucracy.

    HHS started as a cabinet including education and social security. Now education and SS are proudly creating new agencies, commissions and other bureaucracies on their own.
    Time to trim Washington DC bureaucratic tree and clear the brush before we spend more money on it.

  • b lock

    Goldberg, seen you on Fox…12/26/09. You too are a PC PUSSY/coward. You said; your against the people that stood up at town hall meeting and were disruptive. What the hell do expect, the American people have tried every other way, were made as hell. They don’t hear us and neither do you. We’ll get there attention one way or another. Stand aside Goldberg, were going to make you a lump on the road to true reform. All you are is an opportunist  exploiting the truth  just for personal gain and nothing else. I welcome your response, clear your name. Pussy… you won’t right me back .

    • Ron Kean

      I’m concerned that an uncontrolled and over the top backlash to the administration’s policies will be the excuse that the President needs to initiate a program that he’s only spoken of before…that’s a National Police Force under his control as opposed to our state and municipal police.

      Be cool.

    • Wil Burns

      I went down to a Tea Party here a while back and noticing the Hitler/Obama signs, the 2nd Amendment crap, shouting about armed revolution and secession I realized that these Tea Baggers should also ALL be put on a NO FLY list for being mentally unstable armed radical hate mongers.

      • Tim Ned

        Wil, did you see any that weren’t carrying these type of signs? Just curious

        • Troy

          So I guess according to Wil 90% of liberals should be on no fly lists since for the past 40 years they have pretty much compared every republican even moderate ones like John McCain to Hitler or Nazis.

  • James Eubanks

    Hi. Jim here, I wrote a short book and it is on my web page… I know the story the higher your are on the latter the better off you are but, I cant under stand why I can not get my book out for free and folks in the click have there’s posted on every place you go on the tv or net. again my book is free and true. (Vote the bums out). on I tell it like it is. thanks Jim

    • dave

      James. I hope the book is in a foreign language – obviously English isn’t your native tongue.

      • James Eubanks

        Dave, I tried to get my book out with proper english, but if you are a nobody, one can get more response with a dumb sounding statement like the one above because it is easier for someone like you to criticise what someone does wrong than a book that may be done right. Just for you…. Hi. Jim here, I wrote a short book and it is on my web page… I know the story. The higher you are on the ladder, the better off you are, but I can’t understand why I can- not get my book out for free, and folks in the clique have theirs posted on every place you go on the tv or net. Again my book is free and true. “Vote the bums out” on I tell it like it is. thanks Jim

  • Henry

    “Let the leadership buy you off then hold a news conference and defiantly declare, ‘I cannot be bought off.’ Then under your breath, you can whisper, ‘Unless, of course, the price is right.'”

    So true, Bernie, so true. By the way, Bernie, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

  • Mike Guenther


    First I would like to wish you and your family a very safe and happy holiday.

    I, like many Americans, have some real concerns with these bills that are making their way through Congress and through the Senate. These bills are being passed with little or no regard to what the people actually want. Since I have always lived my life with the premise that “We The People” can make a difference, I have developed a website, called, where folks can go to learn more about these bills, know how their politicians have voted, and to find out how to contact their Congressmen and Senators.

    This website does not and will not contain advertisements of any kind or sell any products or services. It is strictly an informative site.

    There is just over 11 months left before the next election and my goal is to make this website available to all voters. Anything you can do to help me achieve this goal would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

  • Buz Chertok

    A long time ago when America was ruled by a British king and his totally dominated parliament,there was a rebellion that didn’t end too well for the king et al. The American public was divided then-for and against rebellion-in about the same proportion that it is divided now. Those against ruinous British dictates vs those for them,who were usually beneficiaries of them,combined with those who were simply too frightened to rebel were just about the same as today’s people who are against the ruinous dictates of king Barack and his band of congressional sycophants combined with those who are simply uninformed or too frightened or lazy to object. This latter group is shrinking and when the harsh realities of the Obama madness such as a half trillion cut in medicare,severe taxation without any benefit increase for 4 years, numerous payoffs to achieve votes etc become generally known because the mainstream media will no longer be able to hide it,it will all but disappear…THEN LOOK OUT!

  • Kris

    This bribery among our politicians makes me angry. I kind of knew it was going on before, but this is just way too blatant.

  • Keith Fry

    I noted in the USA Today this morning a report on page 8A declaring, “Review finds zero ACORN wrongdoing”. This review was attributed to the Congressional Research Service and was commissioned by Messrs Frank (D-MA) and Conyers (D-MI). Is this Congressional Research Service a partisan organization?

  • http://odiecologne Anthony Ferreira

    Dear Mr.Goldberg, Just when I thought you couldn’t top your last entry. You pen another gem. We are forced, once again, to tape an aspirin to our disdain and keep moving forward. I hope you and your families’ wishes all come true this Joyous of Holiday Seasons!

  • Leland

    Love that analogy. Good holidays to you.

  • Chris

    Reminds me of the old Churchill story. He asks a lady if she will sleep with him for a million pounds; she says she would. He then asks her if she will sleep with him for ten pounds. She replies, “What sort of woman do you think I am?” To which Winston replies, “We’ve already established that. Now we’re haggling over price.”

  • RuBegonia

    This Christmas “present” is a helluva Ghost of Christmas Past they are conjuring up for our future. My winter solstice solace is that it will haunt THEM for the rest of their days.

  • Ron Kean

    This would be a very very funny essay if it weren’t the truth and if the amounts of money weren’t so huge.

    Good to have you back, Bernie.

  • bob strauss, jr.

    Bernard Goldberg,
    On Hardball yesterday (12/23 around 5:20), Chris Matthews referred to Parker Griffith, who switched to the Republican party, as being like the guy in women’s clothing in the lifeboat of the Titanic. Very classy analogy there, Chris.

    What’s interesting is that Matthews couched the reference in a question, something along the line of: “Isn’t he like the guy in women’s clothing on the lifeboat?” In that way, Matthews distanced himself from the direct implication that Griffith is bailing out from the Dems like a coward (which is, of course, what Matthews is saying.)

    I’ve scoured the internet to find any comment on Matthews’ slimy analogy, but shocker, there is no mention of it. Imagine if a conservative commentator had made that sleazy remark. There is no way the commentator wouldn’t be hammered for it instantaneously.

    Great example of the double standard in media accountability.

    Bob Strauss, Jr.
    Greenwood, SC

    • bmmg39

      As someone who’s offended by the implication that the men on the Titanic had a duty to drown in order to save women (rather than make sure ALL the people on the ship survived), I hate Matthews’s simile, no matter how he phrased it.

      • Stephen Shields Springfield, IL

        I had to real Mathew’s book “Hardball” for a political science class my freshman year of college. While I dislike Matthews, the book was pretty informative, but after Matthew’s said he had a chill go up his leg after listening to the President speak I literally burned the damn thing. I refuse to watch his show now, and I am not the least bit surprised he would say something like that.

        • Troy

          Wonder what he had to say when Arlen Specter abandoned the party that got him reelected so he could join the majority party in the senate. Bet there were no lifeboat comparisons there. Probably some rambling monologue about courage and convictions and maybe a tremor or two.