The High Price of Bullshit

I bet you don’t know what a copy of The National Enquirer costs, do you?

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No, I bet you don’t. That’s because—and I am as close to 100-percent certain of this as anyone can be about anything these unsettled days—anyone bothering to read these efforts in Mr. Cope’s Cave is far, far too perspicacious a person to waste any more than a quick glance at the lurid cover while you’re standing at the grocery store checkout counter, waiting for the lady in front of you to dig out all those coupons she’d crammed in her purse. And you would no more think about actually buying the disgusting rag than you would consider putting an NRA sticker on your Subaru, meeting your friends for lunch at a Burger King, or drinking Coors.

So I’m confident that the purchase price of that National Enquirer there on the rack, immediately below the People magazine and above the TV Guide, has never been a question you’ve pondered. You might have clucked over how Kristie Alley could possibly squeeze into a two-piece and let herself be photographed on a beach looking like that, true. And you might have been a tad curious about why Tom Cruise’s mug is on the cover … again. And who wouldn’t want to learn a little more about that teenager in Minnesota who gave birth to a 22-pound baby black bear?

But buy the thing? No … f***ing … way! You are wise enough to know that, even if once every five years or so, something written on the pages of the Enquirer turns out to be true, it was a fluke—akin to putting a million monkeys on a million typewriters, and eventually finding a Shakespeare sonnet among the results.

Plus, you’ll have to come back to this store as soon as you run out of food. And the last thing you want is for the employees to be whispering to one another “There’s that person who bought a National Enquirer” as you push your cart down the frozen foods aisle.

Well, gentle readers, I know something you don’t. I know what it costs to buy a copy of The National Enquirer. That’s because I bought one. Monsieur Sophisticate … me … actually bought one of the things.

Please, before you rush off to Huffington Post or Nate Silver’s blog, allow me to explain. See, I did it a couple of weeks ago, when I was looking for a source of images of the prick—and I’m sure you know which prick I mean, as there is only one prick worth talking about these days. It was for that experiment in altering photographs I was doing at the time (“The Photo-Chop-In-Chief,” July 2), and I assumed, correctly, that the sleazy tabloid could be trusted to provide me with some pictures of the sleazy creep they worked so diligently to put into office.

It wasn’t until I got outside the store that I slowed down enough to look at the receipt. The lady who rang up my purchase was someone I deal with often, and I was so embarrassed to have had her see me buying that crap that all I wanted was to rush away to where I could hang my head in shame in the privacy of my own home.

But once I was in the car, I started thinking about how much money I’d just paid for a couple of bottles of generic club soda, two bunches of greens onions, a discounted candy bar, and one National Enquirer. There were no surprises with the club soda, the onions or the candy bar—same as they always were. But the rag? …

With tax, over five bucks!

Yes, five … hard-earned dollars for one copy of The National Enquirer! A fin, they used to call it. And for that, you get less verifiable information than you could read off the back of a box of Cheerios.

So there you have it. I thought you’d appreciate knowing how much money you’re saving by not being one of the pathetic, ridiculous people who buy, and presumably believe, The National Enquirer.

I bet you know the sort of people I mean—the sort who eagerly handed the destiny of our country over to men and women for whom scandal and lies, slander and outrageousness are no more than means to an end.

An end, we must believe, even more evil than the means they are using to reach it.

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