National Lampoon's Transportation Security Administration

By Larry Simoneaux:

Aw geez. Where do I start on this one?

We've got a gazillion dollar airline industry whose job it is to convey people from one place to another in airplanes. It does (and has done) this with a safety record that's truly remarkable.

Recent events, however, have shown us that the world harbors some seriously deranged people who are willing to climb aboard airplanes and do really nasty things with them.

Because of this, we've had to give airport security a hard look.

This turned up several problems. One was that, under harsh scrutiny, "Did you pack your own bag today?" didn't turn out to be the hardnosed deterrent it was meant to be. A much more serious problem, however, was the finding that airport screeners were not well trained, had a horrendous turnover rate and were often paid less than janitors working at the same airport.

Enter Congress - a group renowned for the fact that rational thought seldom ripples the serene surface of its collective mind. After looking into the situation, they said we had to improve airport security.

(A good start.)

They said we had to improve the quality of airport screeners, reduce turnover, and increase their pay. (I was still with them.)

They said that pork, politics and partisanship would be put aside for the good of the country. Airline safety was going to be the bottom line.

(I had tears in my eyes, my hand over my heart, and was humming "America the Beautiful.")

They said, "We're going to turn airline security over to the federal government."

(Do what??)

The federal government, do consider, which is home to: The Helium Reserve (in case our fleet of battle blimps ever runs low on helium); Federal Housing (now, in many places, being dynamited into oblivion); The War on Poverty

(motto: "Trillions down the drain and we ain't plugged it yet."); and the Honey Subsidy (those bees are still suffering) - to name but a few.

So, Congress federalized airport screeners. Then, in a move guaranteed to make us feel safer, the transportation Security Administration announced that (I couldn't make this up if I wanted to) airport screeners will not be required to have high school diplomas.

I wonder what the recruiting posters are going to say? "Didn't finish 9th grade? Have we got a job for you!"

What about entrance exams?

Are they going to have something to do with Lego'sİ and finger-painting?

But wait. There's more.

To ensure we never offend anyone - particularly fanatics intent on killing us - airport screeners will not be allowed to profile people.

They will continue random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, Secret Service agents who are members of the President's security detail and 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips.

Pause a moment and take the following test.

1. In 1979, the U.S. embassy in Iran was taken over by: 

(a) Norwegians from Ballard; 

(b) Elvis; 

( c) A tour bus full of 80-year-old women; or 

(d) Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40.

2. In 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by: 

(a) A pizza delivery boy; 

(b) Crazed feminists screeching that being able to throw a grenade beyond its own burst radius was an unfair and sexist requirement in basic training; 

( c) Geraldo Rivera making up for a slow news day; or

(d) Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40.

3. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by: 

(a) Luca Brazzi, for not being given a part in "Godfather 2;" 

(b) The Tooth Fairy; 

( c) Butch and Sundance who had a few sticks of dynamite left over from the train thing; or 

(d) Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40.

4. In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by: 

(a) Mr. Rogers; 

(b) Hillary, to distract attention from Wee Willie's women problems;

( c) the WWF, to promote its next villain: "Mustapha the Merciless;" or

(d) Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40.

5. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked and destroyed by: 

(a) Bugs Bunny,

(b) the Supreme Court of Florida trying to outdo their attempted hijacking of the 2000 Presidential election; 

( c) Mr. Bean; or (d) Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40.

How'd you do? Did you detect a pattern that would indicate we'd better take a close look at a certain type of individual who might be boarding an airplane with something on his mind other than "What's the in-flight movie?"

You think so?

Horrors! You're nothing more than a closet racist who could never be hired as an official federal airport screener. You probably molest goats too - but that's another column.

So, as it now stands, we have the Transportation Security Administration (letterhead: "No way we're flying.") trying to improve the professionalism of airport screeners by lowering standards and forbidding the use of common sense in screening people. Makes sense, right?


Pardon me while I go bang my head against the wall.

Maybe that'll help me understand.