Nothing breeds creativity like corruption. The practitioners of Louisiana's oldest craft will devise any number of ways to try to beat the system -- and fleece the taxpayers -- while citizens often respond to news of official venality with equal measures of wit and outrage.
Consider, for example, "Dollar Bill" Jefferson's promise that he would provide us with an "honorable explanation" for the $90,000 in marked $100 bills that FBI agents pulled from his freezer in August 2005.
Now, two years later, we're still waiting for that honorable explanation.
Well, leave it to our readers to match Jefferson's "creativity" wad for wad -- um, we mean word for word. Asked to provide suggestions for the "Best 'honorable explanation' for Bill Jefferson's cash," most answered with variations of "There is none."
Others, however, picked up the gauntlet and offered some memorable responses -- some of which Dollar Bill might want to try on for size. Here are some of the better ones:
• "I never had any relations with that freezer."
• "That was not my money. That was the FBI's money."
• "The cold air makes the bills last longer. You know, like batteries!"
• "It was an appliance rebate."
• "Banks are tools of the rich."
• "It's for David Vitter's defense fund."
• "I became a vegetarian, so now I keep all my 'greens' in the freezer."
• "Everybody knows refrigerators float. So, if we have another flood, my money will be safe!"
• "I just knew where a lot of people got their shoes."
• "I was running a legitimate escort service that did not include sex."
• "I was supporting African economic development."
• "I've been moonlighting as a male escort/stripper in the French Quarter."
• "I thought it was a gourmet form of lettuce."
• "I was holding it for David Vitter/Edwin Edwards/Nigeria/the Canal Street Madam/David Vitter's girlfriends." [Check all that apply.]
• "It wouldn't fit in the shoebox under my bed."
• "Just like water gets bigger when it freezes, my pocket change got huge once I stuck it in the freezer!"
• "I put it in the freezer to prevent it from spoiling."
• "It was just leftovers."
• "I was going to make a personal donation to fix the levees."
• "I won it in bridge games."
• "I've been saving it for a very, very, very rainy day."
• "I sold stuff on eBay."
• "Hey, that was only the interest. The rest is in ..."
• "The oven was full -- and too hot."
• "The tooth fairy put it there."
• "What's in your wallet?"
One of our favorites came from a reader who was inspired to poetry by Jefferson's "frozen treats" --
"The Frozen Cash
Is not my stash.
I shopped for food
And got lucky, dude."
Okay, so it's not Robert Frost -- oops, pardon that pun -- but we in Louisiana have to keep a sense of humor about miscreants in officialdom. We've been waiting a long time not just for Jefferson's "honorable explanation," but also for the day when our politics finally get cleaned up.
Like Jefferson looking for a place to hide some hot cash, the thought of waiting for honest politics in Louisiana conjures the image of hell freezing over.