Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama Hails New House Bill on Personal Carbon Output

WASHINGTON--President Obama praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference on Friday for passing H.R. 8686, The Personal Carbon Output Monitoring and Control Act, more commonly known as the "Watch Your Breath" bill, which will install microminiaturized breathing monitors in all American citizens' chests to track how much carbon dioxide they exhale. The Watch Your Breath bill is the latest in a series of moves by the Obama administration and House Democrats to lower Americans' carbon footprint in order to combat global warming.

"It's not enough to monitor our travel and power usage," said Obama. "We also need to be vigilant about how much carbon dioxide we, ourselves are putting into the atmosphere. We'd be hypocrites if we reduced our external emissions without looking inside ourselves. We need to admit that Americans can no longer afford to be running around exhaling all the carbon we want."

On the House floor, Speaker Pelosi was even more adamant: "If this means some people need to slow down or stop their breathing, so be it. This nation is not going to be party to a global catastrophe." While H.R. 8686 is likely to pass both houses of Congress, it is facing opposition from a coalition of groups, including the Asthma Association of America, the American Running Association, The Obesity Society, and a variety of civil libertarian groups, which were concerned that this legislation might lead to further regulation of people's sex lives.

A lawyer representing the Technology Liberation Front made clear his objections: "There are any number of ways Washington could use this new monitoring power to get into people's bedrooms. If Uncle Sam decided that I had reached my quota from heavy breathing because I was with my partner, will the government come in and stop us in flagrante delicto?"

Other groups expressed concern that the breath monitors could be used to stifle political speech since talking generates more carbon dioxide than not talking. Pelosi brushed aside such concerns, saying, "Look, I'm not going to say there aren't some kinks to work out. But let's say H.R. 8686 really did reduce the amount of political speech out there. Obviously some industries, like brass bands and talk radio, would be hurt more than others, but would that really be so bad? People still have the internet. And how much heavy breathing does blogging really take, anyway?"

President Obama said he looked forward to the new legislation as a way to bring "a new culture of peace" to the nation.

Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) was uncharacteristically subdued after the legislation passed, whispering to one reporter that he planned to hire additional staffers proficient in speed typing and sign language to restructure the legislation when it goes into committee with the Senate. Asked if he would fight the President and the Speaker on the issue, Frank sent a quick text message to this reporter with a single word: "Maybe."

Rush Limbaugh, the preeminent radio talker, said, "They can take this as far as they like. I'll pay for extra carbon credits if that's what it takes. My show is not going off the air. It's just the latest version of the 'Hush Rush' law. I'm ready to fight this."

The bill was passed in a quiet but festive atmosphere as "Every Breath You Take" by The Police played in the House chamber:

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you.

Speaker Pelosi denied reports that she has made the song the ring tone for her cell phone.

Bart Leahy is a carbon-based life form. No excess carbon dioxide was generated in the writing of this satire.

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