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Humbug Square - Born to be wide

At least one candidate for governor in 2006 isn't fat

I like to keep my weight between 170 and 260. Right in there. It takes discipline to walk a tightrope like that, but I'm up to the challenge.

A little over a year ago, after weighing 180 for a couple of years, I dropped down close to 160 the hard way after I got an intestinal parasite during a visit to a "food safety" lab.

It was my second intestinal parasite. I got the first one working in a resort hotel in Cripple Creek, Colo., in 1967. I was sick for a year and thin as a stick.

An alternative healer told me that once you get an intestinal parasite, you never really get over it and you become more vulnerable to all sorts of horrible intestinal diseases.

But, as a diet, it works like a charm. Then, after I sort of healed from the second parasite, it took me most of the past year to eat my way back up to 230.

There is a great deal of discussion these days about what diet to be on. Some people I know who have been successful at keeping off large amounts of weight view the problem as one of addiction. They avoid addictive foods, like sugar, the way ex-junkies avoid heroin.

In my case, the addictive food is red velvet cake ... so dense, so sweet, so moist, so ... ohhhh ... no, wait, stop!

Anyway, for most of us, losing weight is tough. So I was relieved two years ago when Gov. Sonny Perdue stepped in to help solve the problem. Georgia is the sixth fattest state in America and almost 60 percent of adults in Georgia are overweight or obese.

Perdue, who had just taken office, challenged state employees to join him on a diet, hoping to lose 20 pounds himself and hoping against hope that the behemoths who work for the state would lose several tons. Fat people run up huge medical bills, usually from doctors telling them to lose weight.

As near as I can tell, the weight-loss thing was the only major initiative of Perdue's first two years as governor.

Perdue is on TV a lot these days, and it's pretty obvious that his diet didn't work all that well. No offense, but he's the kind of guy who gives high-carb diets a bad name. Knowing Republicans, however, they'll probably just announce that he's slim and accuse anyone who disagrees of "hating America."

Perdue's diet plan apparently didn't work for the rest of the state employees or for politicians. There are so many fat people wandering around the new session of the General Assembly that someone should start a nonprofit group called "Ham Watch."

State legislators and their pals gathered recently for the annual "Wild Hog" supper, which always makes me wonder if the name of the event refers to the food or the guests.

And don't accuse me of bias against Republicans. Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, a Democrat, is bigger than Perdue. In fact, he's bigger than most everybody but that guy who sells the yellow wood on TV commercials during football coaches' shows.

Taylor's ad agency defused the issue in the 2002 campaign by calling him "the Big Guy." Next time, they'll call him "the Huge Guy."

Cathy Cox, the secretary of state who is challenging Taylor for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, is not fat at all. In fact, she's looking good. She leads a low-carb lifestyle on the Atkins diet.

She can have a great campaign slogan: "Cathy Cox - Not Fat!"

She may be the only candidate who can save us from a flabocracy.

Still, the state can play an important role in weight loss. Let me explain.

One of the most popular forms of weight loss for really fat people these days is surgery - intestinal or gastric bypass or stomach stapling. The Fat Panthers are opposed to it because of its high death rate and severe complications. The Fat Panthers is an affectionate nickname for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

These are fat people who let it all hang out, literally. They accept being fat and want you to accept them, too, even though they're just enormous. This is a new frontier for civil rights. I can't wait to find out how the Druid Hills Golf Club treats the morbidly obese.

I went to the Fat Panthers' national convention at the Peachtree Plaza a couple of years ago, watching them zoom around in their slob carts because they were too fat to walk, and listening to them complain about having to pay for two seats on an airplane but only getting one snack.

The Fat Panthers point out that people who get the surgery — if they survive the initial medical butchery — lose a bunch of weight for a while. But then some of them begin gaining the weight back after they stretch their stomachs through hearty eating.??
After surgery, they can only eat a pea or two. But, with hard work and practice, I'm guessing they can soon get back to the point where they can choke down an entire red velvet cake at one sitting.

They're fat people. That's what fat people do. The truth of the matter is that once fat people lose the weight, they immediately act like they're on shore leave. Some of them who've been isolated start dating again and then the trouble really starts. That's what always happens to me, anyway. I lose a few pounds, start dating and end up in court. It's uncanny, really.

But here's how the state can get involved.

Perdue and the Republicans are going to pass "tort reform" measures, which means they will deny people the right to sue doctors for anything more than chump change.

This will unleash doctors statewide to butcher all the obese people they want to, staggering into surgery drunk, chopping out long sausages of intestines and slinging them onto the floor, laughing madly with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. You know, pretty much the way they do now, except they won't get sued so badly.

Life will just be so much easier in the utopia that's on the horizon. Doctors will advise all their fat patients who have insurance to get bypass surgery. Their patients will be thinner, at least for a while. And the doctors, who'll be legally bulletproof, will make fortunes and sink all their earnings into the stock market, which will always go up, and then vast sums of money will trickle down to the paupers so they can save for their own bypass operations - or let Medicaid cover it.

Alternatively, people could watch what they eat. The University of Pennsylvania recently published a study that said Weight Watchers is the only diet that works.

Then another group of Fat Panthers, the International Size Acceptance Association, questioned the credibility of the study by pointing out that a prominent dean at the University of Pennsylvania's medical school is on the scientific advisory board at Weight Watchers.

This is American medical research at its finest. Any day now, we'll all be thin.

Senior Editor Doug Monroe wishes to disclose that his son works against tort reform and has lost three pounds on Weight Watchers. You can reach the elder Monroe at doug.monroe@creativeloafing.com.??