Our National Bailout Slam


Sure, the financial crisis is economically horrific. But it's inspiring some top-notch comic poems and videos

If you're one of those fortunate workers who still enjoys company-supplied Internet access—or, if you've been laid off and just have lots of time on your hands—you've no doubt noticed the wave of bailout-inspired humor that's flooded blogs, YouTube, and Facebook pages. Much of it is, sad to say, subprime. But there are some gems out there (precious as a zero-percent T-Bill). We've thoughtfully collected some of the best.

First, the professionals. And by that I mean, of course, The Onion. For production values alone, it's hard to beat the video "Should the Government Stop Dumping Money into a Giant Hole?" Here the level of debate is actually higher than what you'll get on typical network TV coverage of the financial crisis. Then there's my personal favorite, from Jon Methven at the McSweeney's site, "The Economic Crisis Hits the Markson Family Monopoly Board." We may all be living on Baltic Avenue when this is over.

Alright, let's move on to the poetry. It's tough fitting Motown into meter, but the auto companies' pleadings have summoned up much car-crash imagery. Let's give it up for Kaneix, who bolted together "Small is Suddenly Beautiful."And Vanessa Giacoppo, who Twittered over this haiku (even the auto poetry is going Japanese!):

Jaws of Stimulus Life

Three car pile-up,

In the form of carmakers.

Hand-outs aren't free.

A BusinessWeek.com story about the tangled tale of AIG's multiple bailouts elicited this Addams Family-themed song from reader williambanzai7:

The AIG Balance Sheets

They're creepy and they're kooky,

Mysterious and spooky,

They're altogether fluky,

The AIG balance sheets.

Their office is a museum

Where people come to see 'em

They really are a scream

The AIG balance sheets.

(Black Hole)

(Opaque)

(Indeterminate)

So get your Bailout shawl on

and some drums that you can roll on

We're gonna pay a call on

The AIG balance sheets.

For horror-based commentary, it's hard to top a Batman-inspired video mash-up from MBelinkie, "The Dark Bailout.".

But let's face it, if you're going to bail anyone out, who needs it more than poets themselves? That's the proposition put forth by Charles Bernstein, who cites the "glut of illiquid, insolvent, and troubled poems [that] is clogging the literary arteries of the West."

Everyone Wants Some Bailout

Which brings us to the deepest well of bailout parody, the "where's mine?" videos. "Where's My Bailout?" from Reason.tv will touch a nerve for anyone who's spent thirty grand to have Kevin Federline come to her bachelorette party and believes "all Americans should be protected from their own stupidity."

The award for combining sophisticated Wall Street analysis with Main Street beats goes to "The Bailout Rap," posted to YouTube by EJSKanye8585. Honorable mention: "Give It To Me," from RotogenRay. Or, if a cappella is more your speed, substitute "Ben Bernanke, Please Send Me Some Green" by The Vocal Chords.

For pure weirdness, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention "Financial crisis explained with marshmallows" from notfinance.

Santa's Little Bailout

But hey, it's almost Christmas, so naturally Santa is also angling for a bailout. Just search for "Santa bailout" on YouTube and you'll see what I mean. Here I have to go with Harry Shearer's "Why No Bailout for Santa?" (If this audio link doesn't work for you, go to Harry's Le Show archives page, click "more info" for the Nov. 30 show, and a playlist with the song should appear.)

Harry, of course, is also a professional; you may know him as the voice of Mr. Burns on The Simpsons. The history books are still to be written on whether we're midway through the Great Recession or just getting started with the Greater Depression. But with lines like these—"Santa Claus can't get financing; he's caught in the credit crunch. He'll fit through a lot more chimneys, cuz the big guy's skipping lunch"—this little ditty may well go down as "A Christmas Carol" for our times.

Beucke is the News Director at BusinessWeek.com .

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