PACKET RAT

The Rat sniffs the scent of more dirty laundry

'How could a sock puppet get appointed as an undersecretary?'

The Rat pondered his wife's question. The whole brood had accompanied him to California on a week's vacation in hopes of finding some dirt pertaining to the political fornia on a week's vacation in hopes of finding some dirt pertaining to the political appointee now running the cyberrodent's particular subdivision of the federal food chain [GCN, Sept. 10, Page 76].

Already they'd discovered more lint than expected. Now he mulled their next move as they sat in a Palo Alto, Calif., hotel.

'It wouldn't be hard to do,' he replied at last. 'It's probably easier to get an inanimate object through the screening process for political appointments than most humans. He wouldn't have any problems on the FBI background check, not having had a life. And, being a polyester-cotton blend, he wouldn't be very susceptible to blackmail. Not to mention that he'd say whatever his handlers wanted.'

Mrs. Rat wavered between rage and perplexity. 'Isn't it unconstitutional to appoint an escapee from the rag bag? Can't we just expose him'er, it'and have it removed?'

The wired one shook his head. 'That would mean getting Dubya, the vice president, the secretary and a majority of the Senate to admit they made a mistake. That, or getting the Supreme Court to throw out the appointment. Could a wise citizen really turn over something like this to a judge who designs his own robes based on British operetta costumes?'

'I see your point,' sighed Mrs. Rat.

'Besides, there's precedent. It's widely known that for a good part of the Clinton administration, an office at the National Security Agency was run by a box of Krispy Kremes. And then there was that blue dress that ran the whole Executive Office for a while.

'The real question,' continued the whiskered one, 'is who's the real power behind the puppet. When we find that out, we'll think of a way to retire Undersecretary Bonzo to the toy box for good.'

The next day, the Rat family scoured the local venture capital firms for information about the fate of the senior staff of GoBananas.com, an Internet fresh fruit portal run, prior to its timely demise, by the sock puppet in question.

The trail of the chief financial officer led them north to Vallejo, Calif., or more specifically to Six Flags Marine World, where the ex-CFO was now working as part of a sea lion act.

'Let's sit up front, Dad,' urged his oldest offspring. 'That way we can corner this guy as soon as the act's over.'

'Good thinking,' said the Rat. He settled down in the first row of bleacher seats, not suspecting his son's ulterior motive.

It was only after getting thoroughly drenched by a splashing sea lion (and thanking the fates for his neoprene Palm VIIx case), that the Rat found his location in fact afforded a good opportunity to corner the quarry.

The former CFO, identifiable by his 'Crewmate Todd' name tag, was swabbing around the tank as the crowd filed out in search of the next attraction.

'What can you tell me about Bonzo and GoBananas?' the Rat inquired.

'Oh, that's like so over with,' Crewmate Todd replied. 'I don't even have the Etch A Sketch of our business plan anymore. We had to give it to the vulture capitalists that made our last bridge loan. The stupid puppet went to them, too.'

'And who were they?' asked the Rat, flipping through his notes on his Palm.

'Some suits from back East. Called themselves the Langley Investors' Club.'

The damp and furry one shivered. He was dealing with yet another load of dirty laundry.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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