What's the hot new trend in political circles, second only to extramarital affairs? Weight loss!
Politicians love to gain a lot of weight and then lose it, publicly, because it makes them a hero to their constituents, who are more often than not morbidly obese.
It also gives these guys something fun to talk about when the only alternative is to issue dull statements about the latest bond issue or crime statistics or whatever it is that politicians normally discuss when they're "on the job."
And as an extra bonus, politicos-turned-weight loss gurus can use their compelling tales of personal discipline to draw obvious, if somewhat meaningless, comparisons to much-needed government fiscal discipline.
Mike Huckabee wrote the book on this whole thing. The once-rotund governor of Arkansas lost a bunch of weight and used his wonderful personal journey to sell books, to sell himself as the "everyman" presidential candidate, and even to sell conservatives on his incredibly thin credentials as an economics pundit.
Now Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, the former 265-pound giant who has lost 40 pounds in a mere ten weeks, says he started dieting in order to have a positive goal in the midst of an intractable state budget crisis.
"I thought this would give me something to strive for, something positive that I could see happening compared to the lack of progress with the budget," he said.
[...] His goal is to get ... [down to] 200 pounds.
Rendell predicts that, at the current pace (he's dropping about 4 pounds weekly) he will reach that by the end of September. He laughs when asked what will come first – his goal or the adoption of a final state budget, which is now seven weeks overdue.
Huzzah for Ed Rendell, a middle-aged man who finally reached the astonishing conclusion that consuming fewer calories can lead to weight loss. But let's hope he doesn't take this stunt too far!
Please, take a moment to bow your head and pray that Pennsylvania resolves its state budget crisis before October 20, 2010. Otherwise, 61 weeks and 225 pounds from now, the state may have literally no governor left at all.