The Sacred Bull Basic English and Math Test
For Federal Politicians

by Charles Curley & Claire Wolfe

Congress and the Clinton administration have recently contemplated (if it can be said that either has ever contemplated anything) a proposal to set national educational standards, then test all fourth graders for reading ability and all eighth graders for math skills.
One question that has so far gone unasked is this: What qualifies politicians even to "discuss" standards, let alone impose them upon others? Given the standards of most politicians for ethics, personal hygiene, and relevance to the real world, weíre not sure we want them setting standards for anyone else.
Nevertheless, and much to our surprise, the Beltway Bullies have accidentally hit upon a good idea this time--just not in quite the way they intended. If they believe it is important to test school children, think how much more vital it is that we test our would-be rulers--those selfsame congresspeople and administrators--for some minimum level of knowledge and skill.
Herewith we present:
The SacredBull Basic English and Math Test for Federal Politicians

SECTION I:

Competency in English

1.The phrase, "Congress shall make no law..." means
a. Congress shall make no law...
b. Congress shall make some laws...
c. Americans can do anything they want, except things my colleagues and I, or our largest contributors, personally dislike.
d. Congress can do anything it damn well pleases, starting with stacking the courts with our toadies.

2. What is the correct interpretation of the phrase "...the right of the people... shall not be infringed"?
a. The right of the people...shall not be infringed.
b. The right of the people...shall be infringed, but only gradually, moderately and for the good of children and battered women (except the ones we batter).
c. The right of the people is actually a stateís right and the states are a bunch of wusses whoíll put up with anything as long as we offer them enough tax-funded loot in return for selling out their citizens.
d. The people are all sitting on their butts watching TV, so we can infringe any damn thing we feel like infringing, and weíll get the media to screw you if you think otherwise.

3. What is the meaning of the phrase, "The powers...are reserved to the states, or to the people..."
a. The powers...are reserved to the states, or to the people...
b. The interstate commerce clause gives us the authority to do anything. Therefore there are no other powers left to reserve for those other twits. Too bad for them.
c. Whereíd you get a stupid idea like that? Weíre more powerful and have bigger guns than they do, and thatís all that really matters, isnít it?
d. Hahahahahahahahahaha!

4.Essay Question: Write a bill (a proposed law, you twit) in plain English, for once. We just want to see if you can do it. Extra credit if itís constitutional or can be read and understood in less than ten minutes by a high school student of average intelligence.

SECTION II:

Competency in Mathematics

1. A fugitive oil baron named Roger gives $300,000 to the Democratic National Committee for the specific purpose of gaining "access" to the president. For that, he is given six invitations to the White House, but does not get the pipeline he wanted. How much money should Roger give to the DNC next time?
a. Nothing. People shouldnít be able to bribe their way into the presence of public officials.
b. This is a trick question. Next time, a Republican president might be in office, and Roger should give his money to the RNC, instead.
c. I know the president. If Roger gives me the money, Iíll give Roger access. Heck, Iíll even throw in some hot babes, since Roger said the babes at the White House were too busy stroking Clinton to pay any attention to him.
d. $600,000. (Rogerís answer, in testimony before Congress 9/18/97).

2. According to the administrationís own projections, Americans will soon face an 82 percent income tax rate if present entitlement programs and levels of federal growth persist. How many years before American citizens rise up in rebellion?
a. Americans should never be driven to that kind of desperation. We should immediately begin rolling the federal government back to constitutional levels.
b. Donít worry, weíre going to reform the tax system and, as Rep. Mitch McConnell says, "virtually abolish the IRS as we know it"; weíll just have an 82 percent national sales tax, instead.
c. As soon as my term in office is over and I can get an oceanside place in Costa Rica, complete with Uzi-toting bodyguards.
d. What do we care? Weíll just let Janet burn the little jerks and claim they committed suicide.

3. The federal budget is...oh...some great big figure in the gazillions. The national debt is probably about five trillion dollars, give or take. The annual deficit is, you know, billions and billions and billions (not counting off-budget stuff like Amtrak and the Post Office). Budgets for Social Security and Medicare are increasing at some really wowie-zow of a percent every year. (Not like you care what the actual figures are, anyway). Congress and the president have just cooked up a tax cut package filled with goodies for favored special interests. Please explain how you can claim the budget will be balanced by 2002.
a. We canít do it without extreme cutbacks in government. Anybody who says we can is lying like a congressman.
b. Revenues will...uh...yeah...revenues will increase because of all those tax breaks and...uh...the economy will be just perfect forever and ever and...uh...maybe some plague or something will come along and kill off all those money-sucking old folks...or something like that, maybe.
c. The media said itís true, didnít they? What more proof do you want?
d. Hey, thatís for the suckers who are here in 2002 to figure out. Iíll be in Costa Rica by then.
e. Well, actually, now that I think about it, Iíll be in some other country with an army so they can fight off the U.S. troops who will be sent to take my loot like they did Noriegaís. Like, hey, I stole mine fair and square!

Correct answers: C, D, B, C, D and E (From the politiciansí point of view, that is. Hey, you know, whatever we can get away with while the folks are watching TV...)

Correct answer, in reality: L-E-A-D T-H-E-R-A-P-Y

© 1997 Charles Curley and Claire Wolfe. Permission to reprint freely granted.