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I Take the Fifth

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I realize that it's not common for a writer on the Huffington Post to take the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination for one of his essays. But it's not common for someone in the Justice Department to take the Fifth either. So, I just figure that two "not common" occurrences the same week means it's not uncommon and therefore worth taking advantage of.

Now, of course, some may say there's no earthly reason to take the Fifth. After all, I'm not charged with any crime, just as Monica Golding - Justice Department liaison to the White House - isn't charged with any crime. In my essays, I'm only asked to tell the truth or a reasonable facsimile of it as long as it's funny...the exact same as Ms. Golding, except for the funny part. If I have something to say, I should just say it.

There is truth in that. On the other hand, life is full of people who have things to say, but we'd all be better off if they just kept it to themselves. William Kristol, for one. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin, for others. And heaven knows, a whole lot of people would be better off if we included Robert Novak in that list. Lewis Libby, for sure. And about 280 million innocent bystanders. So, merely having something to say doesn't mean you inherently must say it. Taking the Fifth, however, would show that I do have something to say - I'm just not saying it, and therefore protecting my rights.

Some may say, as well, that if I have nothing to hide - just as Ms. Golding has seemingly nothing to hide and, the same as me, is pure as the driven snow, at least snow that's pure until some punks or Justice Department officials go and pee on it - I shouldn't stand behind the protection of the Fifth Amendment.

There is truth in that. On the other hand, we all have things that simply are our own business. I have nothing to hide, but when I'm with friends and happen to hear them joking, arguing and plotting to deceive the United States government in a completely legal way, it's my life. I don't go around telling stories about my friends. (Except the one about Charlie Bondurant, but that's too hilarious not to,) Luck just happens that this is the very same position as Monica Golding, so I have the precedence of a United States Justice Department liaison to the White House. If she doesn't know all about one's personal right to keep quiet about the low, reprehensible, utterly inappropriate dealings of one's friends, who would?!

Now, because I have decided to take the Fifth for this essay, some may also wonder whether it's appropriate for me to continue writing on the Huffington Post. Like Alberto Gonzales says, it's something I've been asking myself lately. Mind you, I'm not saying I did anything wrong either, nor anything that would disqualify me from writing essays. I'm just raising questions.

Were mistakes made in how I phrased things in the past? Yes, certainly there were. When I wrote in May of last year that citizens of Illinois were building a wall on the state border to keep out people from Indiana, I should have made clear in REALLY BIG LETTERS that I was just joking. Some people misunderstood me, and took it seriously. I apologize and take full responsibility. As a result, I have just hired someone so that I can now have a staff and fire that person. When I wrote elsewhere that the U.S. has a budget surplus, there is no global warming, the Iraq War is going great and Harry Whittington shot Dick Cheney, I wasn't being as clear as I would have liked - what I meant was we don't, there is and it isn't. Though I do stand by Harry Whittington shooting Dick Cheney. I heard it on Fox News, and decided. Again, I apologize and take responsibility. That person I fired, I have ordered to be tortured. Ironically, this is something else Alberto Gonzales and I have in common. My former employee is now in some undisclosed Eastern European country and forced to watch Nancy Grace and reruns of "The Bachelor" for 18 hours a day.

I understand that I might get subpoenaed to write this essay. But I am telling you here and now (and please know that I'm trying hard to look really, really serious and steely-eyed) that I will fight this, using all available means. Now, mind you, I know I probably don't have a leg to stand on. But be aware that I already have a call in to the office of the Attorney General of the United States about hiring Alberto Gonzales personally, since I figure he'll be out of a job soon and in need of work.

There is a division between branches of literature. It is some people's responsibility to be readers, and other people's responsibility to ignore them and send troops to war. I could explain what I mean, but, well...that's where things start to get a bit tricky. And that's why I'm sure you all understand why I feel I must take the Fifth Amendment.

I just want to add that I am so glad that the Constitution is good for something!