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Bar Talk . . .

            As John's eyes adjusted to the dim light, he could make out some familiar faces at the far side of the tavern. Seated on his favorite stool at the bar's corner, Bill The Bus Driver aimlessly stirred his whiskey with his left hand while studying the TV above the back-bar. He waved a cigarette at John with his right hand.

            "Hi-ya John", Bill croaked.

            John pulled out a barstool and swung into it,"Hi Bill. Fancy meeting you here."

            "Nope. Plain"

            Cory The Bartender grinned. He opened the beer cooler and paused, "The usual, John?"

            John nodded, "Yah, Hacke Beck."

            "Why do you come into the tavern if you don't want to drink?'

            "Somebody has to keep you guys in line."

            "Oh yah. John has a line, all right."

            "Maybe a line of BS. . . "

            John smiled at Cory The Bartender, "I love this place. Everybody is always SO nice!"

            Cory The Bartender pushed a brew toward John. "Yep, Love makes the world go 'round."

            Somebody cracked, "Yah, Loves make the world go 'round but Cory makes the beer go flat."

            John bent forward so he could see down the bar. "So Bill, You still driving that bus?"

            Bill The Bus Driver exhaled a gray cloud. "Yah, still driving. . . .On vacation this week, though."

            John ginned at Cory The Bartender, " I guess they call that a 'Busman's Holiday'."

            Bill The Bus Driver crushed his cigarette and coughed. He stared at the TV. " I guess if I had a nickel for every time I heard that crack, I wouldn't have to work another day in my life"

            "Work ANOTHER day, Bill? You have to work ONE day before you can work ANOTHER."

            "Oh, Ha Ha. You try driving a friggen bus. Have all them A-holes asking you dumb questions all day: 'Will you stop here?' 'Will you stop there?' 'Why didn't you stop back there?' "

            The peanut gallery chimed in:

            "'Didn't I just see you swerve to hit that cat?'"

            "Ha! Or: 'Why did you just slam the door on my Grandma?'"

            "How-bout: 'Didn't I see you at Grandma's House? Why was Grandma washing your undies?"

            "Or: 'Can we go now? You've had your nap!"

            Bill The Bus Driver lit another cigarette. "Awww, you're all a buncha friggen A-holes. Better hope you never need a ride on MY bus."

            "I say that every time I see you, Bill."

            Cory the Bartender held up his hand. "Time out, Guys! Cut Bill some slack. He's on vacation and he is spending a lot of money in MY bar. So, leave him alone!"

            "OK, We'll try be nice. It will be hard, but we'll try."

            "What's on TV?"

            Bill The Bus Driver pointed to the TV's above the bar with the lit end of his cigarette. "Nascar on the TV over there and Golf up here."

            "Some guy just spun out and hit the wall a few minutes ago. He's OK. Car's smashed."

            "Which car was it?"

            "Hell, I don't know. Tidy Bowl Car Number Two or something."

            "No, the Carnation Car got creamed"

            "Maybe it was the Charmin car that got wiped out."

            "I heard it was the Old Spice Car headed for the pits."

            "That Tide car ought to really clean up."

            "The Kleenex Car by a nose..."

            Cory the Bartender shook his finger. "Stop. Please . . . . Kleenex by a nose. . .Gimmme a break. . . . Maybe you guys should go back to insulting Bill again . . ."

            "What's with Golf? It looks like Tiger swinging in super-slow motion."

            "Yah. They do that now so you can analyze the swing."

            "Man. Who woulda thought they could come up with a way to make TV golf even MORE boring?"

            "That's nothing. You want boring? What's really bad is when you turn up the volume: 'Here's Tiger on the back swing. . . .He is almost to the end of the back swing now. . . See how the club is starting to change direction . . . It won't be long now until he connects with that ball. . . He's hitting the ball . . .It's awaaaaaay!' ".

            "It's waaaay boring, I tell you."

            "They get people to watch that?"

            "Hey, You're watching it!. Oops. Sorry. Forgot. You don't qualify as 'people'. "

            "Well, you are right about that one. But, since we're friends, you can just call me 'Chosen One'. . ."

            Cory the Bartender interrupted, "Knock it off, guys. We'll change the channel."

            Bill The Bus Driver's gaze didn't move from the TV, "Switch it to the Breaking News Channel. . . . News repeated every half hour until it is not."


            "Not News."

            "Not News. . . I guess that would be Olds."

            "But, they aren't making any more Olds. . . . So, that's why they have to repeat the News."

            "I must be getting drunk; that made sense."

            John focused on the television, "A major winter storm turned deadly as it pushed east. Weather is blamed for 2 deaths. The Northeast braces for more rain, snow, flooding."

            "Reminds me of that movie where the global warming causes a glacier in New York City."

            "Yah, I remember it. The movie starring the guy from that other movie about tornados. Another disaster."

            "Now we are going to have to burn more coal to make more electricity and that will contribute to global warming which will make it colder, I guess."

            "The Supreme Court says the EPA is now in charge of carbon dioxide. They are going to regulate it as a pollutant."

            "Naw, everything makes carbon dioxide. Turtles, bunny rabbits, people - not just factories and barbecues. They can't say every animal exhaling is polluting the atmosphere. That's stupid."

            "Really stupid"

            "Just man-made causes of carbon dioxide . . . Not bunnies. Not turtles"

            Cory The Bartender opened a can of Cola. "Hear the fizz? That's carbon dioxide and I guess its man-made."

            "Cory, you polluter you. Opening a can of soda in front of us all. Have you no shame?"

            "Hey what about kids? Aren't they 'man-made'? Don't all our kids exhale carbon dioxide just like we do? We're all 'man-made'. Right?"

            "Well, I'll be; He is right! The government has finally figured out how to regulate our breathing."

            "Not quite. The EPA is only concerned when we exhale. Carbon dioxide is not created by inhaling. So, that will still be legal."

            Bill The Bus Driver took a long pull on his cigarette, then exhaled. He winked at John while proclaiming, "Bill Clinton was the only man alive who never inhaled."

            The TV squawked: "New Federal Ethanol Initiatives are putting the squeeze on corn supplies. Food prices are expected to rise."

            "Gotta have all them Twenties Mobsters rolling in their graves now that the Government is in the moonshine business."

            "It takes pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer to grow the corn. You gotta burn fuel in the tractors and the combines to grow it and then harvest it. You load trucks to haul the corn. You burn natural gas or propane to distill it. Then you have to truck it to the refinery to add it to the gasoline. Then it is transported to the gas station. The energy obtained from burning the alcohol distilled from a bushel of corn is only about 17 percent more than the energy burned to make it."

            "So, it's like we made 17 percent energy. Right?"

            "Not when you include the added cost to feed chickens and cows. Diverted demand is pushing the price of feeder corn up. You and I will pay for the Federal Ethanol Initiatives at the grocery store. "

            "But the planet is still better off. Ethanol burns cleaner. Even if it is only 17 percent advantage. The planet is 17 percent better off. "

            "Really, No. It takes more than 1.17 X of ethanol to match the energy produced by X gallons of gasoline. So, there is no good reason to do this WITH CORN."

            "What do you mean?"

            "This whole ethanol initiative would be a GREAT idea if we used grass, wood chips, garbage, manure, waste or industrial byproducts. Anything BUT corn to make ethanol! THAT would be a fantastic idea".

            "That would never work. Who would drink moonshine made from industrial waste?"

            Joe The Doper finished a solo game of darts and returned to his seat at the bar. "What the hell. I might. Got any?"

            "Naw, we're just talking. A bunch of 'what ifs'. "

            Joe The Doper nodded knowingly, "Oh. I get it."

            Bill The Bus Driver rattled the cubes in his empty glass, "I drink whiskey and they make that from corn. And, right now, I would like a little more ethanol . . . . Please, sir."

            Cory The Bartender quickly grabbed Bill's glass. "Sorry, Bill, I just never considered you or myself to be part of the Federal Ethanol Initiative. But, we're in it because it is in us."

            Joe The Doper slapped his forehead, "Oooooh! That is sooooo deep!!! We're in it because it is in us."

            The TV continued: "During a call-in on a New Hampshire radio station, New York Senator and Presidential Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked what the US should do about 'American Idol' contestant Sanjaya Malakar. The TV show's underdog is often criticized as untalented. Senator Clinton responded, 'That's the best question I've been asked in a long time.' "

            John finished his beer and set the glass down loudly, "What a crock !" He pointed at the TV and growled, "The correct response to that question, MRS CLINTON, would be to say, 'I don't give a damn' ! I think the nation would applaud if you told that guy he was a dumbass! 'The best question I've been asked' - give me a break!"

            Bill The Bus Driver laughed. "Yessirree! That's what's called taking a stance on a tough issue!   Go get'em, Hillary!"

            John pushed four dollars into the rail for Cory's tip. "I gotta get out of here. I can't take any more news! Good Night!"

            As he walked out of the Tavern, John heard the TV blaring:" Breaking News Channel Headlines: Defaults Escalate over Sub-Prime Mortgage Worries . . . More at 11"

            "Yes . . . More at 11", John mumbled to himself.


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