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Why M.D.s are busy, and other story ideas

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While I was cleaning up my desk in preparation for the new year, I found some interesting things. Here they are.

Note to myself: "There have been several sightings of Vice President Dick Cheney in the last three weeks. One had him hiding out in a cave in Boca Raton. Another is that he is staying with Elvis Presley in Memphis, and a third is that he is hunting caribou in Alaska."

Thought for a column: "The reason you cannot see a doctor when you want to is because they are so busy on the phone. Almost all the advertising on television has to do with prescription drugs that cannot be bought over the counter. The pharmaceutical companies are pushing their miracle products, which will cure arthritis, cholesterol, insomnia, menopause and sexual dysfunction.

"Every commercial, after singing a remedy's praises, by law has to say, 'This drug may not be for you. Consult your physician before using.'

"What has happened is that so many people are now calling their doctors asking if a particular advertised pill is good for them, that the physician is constantly on the phone and no longer has time to see patients.

"What gets doctors mad is that they can't charge for a phone consultation about television medical claims."

"Must do a piece saying Enron is getting a bad rap. Although they are bankrupt, cost thousands of people their jobs, voted golden parachutes for the big guys, lobbied politicians with millions of dollars, kept two sets of books, sold oil and gas they didn't have, had a revolving door to the White House, cost innocent investors their life savings, caused banks to lose their shirts, and are known in Houston as 'white collar terrorists' — this is no reason to trash them. After all, nobody's perfect."

In my pile of newspaper clippings is one that says, "Afghanistan's main agricultural product is opium." Next to it is a note I made: "Should the U.S. buy the entire crop for medical purposes? Or should the CIA persuade them to plant Christmas trees instead? Or, if worse comes to worst, let them export it under the Favored Nations Treaty?"

Still open as a column idea: "Should the plumber who faithfully promised to fix my hot water heater on Thursday, and never showed up, be tried by a federal court or a military tribunal where they have nothing against the death penalty?"

"Send Geraldo Rivera a fruitcake in Tora Bora for New Year's."

My final note to myself reads, "Write Diane Sawyer and tell her how sorry I am that Katie Couric will soon make more money than she does, and send a copy to Barbara Walters."

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