The other day I got lost in my health plan's voice mail. By the time the call was over my nails grew an inch and my kitten became a cat. But it isn't only corporations that are mired in voice mail mania: so are politicians and media types.
How do I know? I checked.
I called the White House office of President Barack Obama and got this: "This is your moment! You have reached the private office of President Barack Obama. If you're part of the Republican leadership in Congress, I know that if I say press 1 you'll press 2 -- so press 2. If you are John Boehner or Mitch McConnell specifically wanting to talk about a deal on my new jobs plan, press 3 -- or any number you feel is better. I'll meet you half way. In fact, I'll take whatever number you give me. Just tell me what number you want."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: "Hello. You've reached the office of Rep. Eric Cantor. If you want our Press Office, the answer is no. If you want to talk about President Barack Obama's jobs plan, the answer is no. If you want information about extending the payroll tax, the answer is no. If you are one of the Koch Brothers and you want to make a contribution, the answer is YES and press as high a number as you want!"
MSNBC talk show host Rachael Maddow: "You've reached my private line. If you want to hear some of my patented sarcasm, press 1. If you want me to repeat a concept over and over as I do on my show... repeating the same idea about 40 times before I move on... hear me rephrase it a thousand different ways... take that concept and reframe it so there's no question what I am saying... rewording the sentence, revamping the phrase, changing each and every word until you're screaming, shouting, hollering at the top of your lungs for me to get to the point... doing it 30 times... 40 times... then press 2."
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh: "You've reached Excellence in Voice Mail. If you're a liberal who wants to talk to me, press any button on the left side of your phone and your voice mail will be screened. If you want to hear me blast people on welfare and unemployment before I jump in my private jet and fly to Philadelphia for a cheese steak, a large pizza with everything on it, and a banana split, press 2."
Failed Delaware Republican Senate Candidate Christine O'Donnell: "Greetings! You've reached the offices of Christine O'Donnell. If you're calling to re-order my new book, then thank you, thank you, you're the first one, so press 1! If you're calling to return unsold cartons of my book, please call back in one week after we haul the 10 trucks already filled with them to the Salvation Army. If you want to invite me on your cable show so I can walk off your show and accuse you of sexual harassment, press 2. If you want to invite me on your radio talk show so I can hang up on you, press 3. And if you're calling to make that tiresome joke about me, twitch your own darn nose!"
Texas Governor Rick Perry: "Howdy. This is Rick. I really don't care what button you press because voice mail is science and technology and why should we instantly kowtow to scientists and technocrats? But if you're calling about my statement that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, that is a misquote. I was referring to Fonzie -- Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli - who was played by Henry Winkler on "Happy Days." I said it could have been designed by Fonzi -- and was a ‘FONZI scheme.' And anyone who says otherwise is an abject liar!"
Joe Gandelman is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org