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Patt Morrison Headshot

How Many X's in ''Porn Bailout''?

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You have to give them points for trying, I suppose. Just don't give them any of my money.

Porn mogul Larry Flynt and a fellow named Joe Francis, who dreamed up those "Girls Gone Wild" videos, say they want Congress to deliver a $5-billion bailout to the porn industry.

I've always read that when times get bad, porn prospers. When times are good, porn prospers. If there's any such thing as a foolproof economic performer, porn is it.

These two admit that the porn industry isn't exactly facing the perils of Detroit, or even California and its budget, but as they declared truculently in their press release, "Why take chances?"

Just in case anyone's even thinking of taking this seriously, please, Congress, don't put a $20 or any other public money in their thongs, no matter what they wiggle in your face. Heck, Francis is due to go on trial in a couple of months in L.A. on felony federal tax-evasion charges. That's the only kind of relationship he should have with the federal government.

But porn's lobbyists could take their case to Congress, just for the entertainment value. Back in 2001, the California porn industry went to Sacramento to lobby over taxes and Internet privacy.

Nearly two dozen porn performers, strip club operators and others campaigned office by office, handing out fliers showing just how much money their business makes in California; one of them, Nina Hartley, said, "We are a revenue generator, and we'd like a little respect."

It was a trifle ... what's the word? Awkward. But persuasive. One conservative lawmaker was "dour" when the adult industry group first showed up in his office, but after 20 or 25 minutes, he'd warmed up so much that he invited the head of the Free Speech Coalition to play golf with him.

Now, imagine taking that to Capitol Hill. Trying to josh about internet porn taxes with John Kerry, maybe trying to get a laugh out of Oklahoma's Tom Coburn with a naughty joke about lap-dances and free speech.

One exotic performer made a huge splash in D.C. years ago. Democrat Wilbur Mills ran the House Ways and Means Committee, at least until he ran up against some cops in 1974.

They stopped him as he drove around the Tidal Basin at 2 o'clock in the morning, a month before the 1974 election. Boozing and driving, not such a big deal back then. But it didn't stop there. His passenger leaped into the water to get away. Her name: Fannie Fox, a.k.a. the Argentine Firecracker, a top-drawer stripper. Fox changed her stage name to the Tidal Basin Bombshell and wrote a book, The Stripper and the Congressman.

Mills won reelection a month later -- there's no accounting for some voters' taste -- and then called it quits.

Ah, the good old days.