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Chewing the Fat 

Hold on to your love handles--another ridiculous lawsuit is upon us.

As much as I hate to do it, I have to apologize to Rush Limbaugh. Oh, he's still a pompous ass, unable or unwilling to admit to his mistakes, and he's the undisputed leader of the "Let's Blame Everything on Bill Clinton" chorus, but when he's right (once every few years), he's right.

Several years back, when several states were engaged in the tobacco industry lawsuit feeding frenzy, Limbaugh (somewhat stereotypically) sided with the cigarette makers. And for the most part, I agreed with him. In my mind, any person who took up smoking after the Surgeon General's warning came out in the mid-1960s pretty much deserved whatever body odor, social shunning, finger burns, hacking coughs, mouth sores and/or cancers he got.

(I did feel that some money should go to help those who started smoking before the warnings were issued. My mother, for example, started smoking after her doctor prescribed it for her as a means of weight control and an anxiety soother back in the 1940s. She smoked for more than 40 years and then just stopped on her own.)

Anyway, Limbaugh went on this rant and said, "You wait and see. If they're successful here, the next thing they're going to go after is food. Somebody out there will sue a food maker because he got fat and has heart trouble or something."

I e-mailed him and said, "Now you've gone right over the edge of the Hyperbole Cliff. How big a pussy would a guy have to be to sue a fast-food place because he ate too many cheeseburgers?"

Well, apparently the answer to that once-rhetorical question is 260 pounds. Some Human Pustule from New York has teamed with the most-unscrupulous lawyer in America (now there's a distinction!) to file suit against Wendy's, McDonald's, KFC and Burger King because he ate too much fast food and ... (drum roll) ... got fat!!!

Obviously the guy is willing to endure the justifiable ridicule and scorn because he knows that all his spittle-licking dog of a lawyer has to do is find one judge vain enough to overstep his bounds and embark on a course of judicial fiat. No matter how ridiculous and lacking in merit this case is, the odds are that there is probably a judge somewhere in this country who will go along with the stupid and irresponsible argument and we'll all be the worse off for it.

Let me state here for the record that I'm fat. Ironically, when I played sports in high school and college, I was on the thin side. But then, after my kids were born and I became a househusband, the pendulum swung way over in the other direction and then just sort of rusted in place. (My weight actually fluctuates between Jack Black in "Shallow Hal" and Divine in "Hairspray." I generally follow the stock market, so for the last six years of the Clinton Administration, I pretty much had sustained growth, but now that a corporate lackey is in the White House and the market is in free fall, I'm losing weight.)

And allow me to further state that I'm not fat because Frito-Lay put some secret ingredient in the Doritos or because On The Border uses subliminal messages to get me into their restaurant or even because fast-food places duped me by promising food that is fast and neglected to tell me that their food had those ghastly calorie things in it. I'm fat because I ate too much and didn't react accordingly.

The equation is simple. While the as-yet unresolved fat vs. carbohydrate side argument is interesting, the truth is that it's simply a matter of when you put food in your stomach, you either have to throw it back up or exercise it off; otherwise, you'll gain weight. I don't want to hear about metabolism or thyroid or triglycerides. Excuses are for wimps.

(Genetics play a certain role. I have a sister who can eat until she gets tired and then sleep until she gets hungry, and never gains a pound. However, genetics generally work in one's favor. If your parents had to buy four tickets when the two of them flew on Southwest Airlines, it would probably be wise for you to steer clear of Cold Stone Creamery.)

Another general rule of thumb is that the better a food tastes, the worse it's going to be for you. That's partly because you're more likely to eat too much of it and also because in order for it to taste good, it's got to have some "bad" stuff in it. That's why you hardly ever see any fat vegetarians. Nobody wants a second helping of dirt.

Oh yeah, I saw this great bumper sticker the other day. It read: "Vegetarians Don't Really Live Longer; They Just Look Older."

In my entire adult life, every piece of food that went down my neck was by my own hand. (My wife is rather fastidious and there's no way she's actually going to place food in my mouth.) I ate it; I enjoyed it; and I'm the one who's paying the price. It's nobody's fault and it's my responsibility.

So Rush was right and I was wrong. Now make it stop. Find a judge who will throw the frivolous lawsuit out and then call the guy a fat turd while doing so. And stem the spread of the food-related insanity.

A recent article in Newsweek told of how parents are trying to help their kids eat healthier at school by limiting the number of vending machines and making cafeteria food better. Unfortunately, even good ideas can get hijacked. In Berkeley, Calif., the lunatic fringe took control and forced the school cafeteria to go all-vegetarian, all the time.

I swear to God, if my kid went to that school, I'd be there every day at lunchtime with a Happy Meal in hand. Heck, I'd bring two, one for him to eat and one that he could auction off for his college fund. He'd have enough to pay his way through Princeton by the time he got to middle school.

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