Now it’s tomatoes.

Those of us who are consumers of the daily diet of scandal, politicians unable to complete an English sentence, car wrecks, stolen twirling trophies and bank robbers who pass threatening notes to tellers written on the robber’s deposit slip are no strangers to human greed and nefarious behavior. But tomatoes?

It seems that purchasing agents at some pretty big food processors were buying tainted tomatoes in return for “incentives.” The FDA or somebody has assured the tomato-eating populace that the tomatoes, though they have an over-the-top mold count, are not a danger to our health. (Perhaps not the tomatoes’ health.)

You can just imagine where all of this will lead.

Things have gotten slow on the public hearing front since Toyota recalled every car and truck it ever made, and health care has moved to the back page of Arts and Living. It’s clearly time for televised hearings on something new and what better than secret payoffs for moldy tomatoes? Step aside swine flu, cancer and bank bailouts! We have a tomato crisis! Somebody must answer for this red menace!

An ambitious congressman who probably knows diddle about tomatoes is right this minute immersed in tomato disease and agriculture supply chain research, frantically trying to understand some of the three syllable words,  desperate to appear knowledgeable when he has his “I was shocked to learn” news conference before an eager and equally misinformed press corps. (“Hey, Tommy! Did you know tomatoes are a fruit?”)

The impact on the Italian restaurant industry, chili cook-offs and bad meatloaf topping is incalculable.

“I’ll have the frogo napolino alla porto, and two bottles of your cheapest chianti.”

“I’m sorry, sir, no frogo.”

“No frogo?”

“Not a fro.


“It’s the tomatoes, sir. They are bad.”

“All of them?”

“Every single one in the whole world including Chad and Mauritania.”

“Who says they’re bad?”

“Congressman Whizzleton.”

“Who’s he?”

“The Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on Tomato Purity.”

“Never heard of him.”

“Congressman Whizzleton has uncovered this evil scheme to poison the population with bum tomatoes.”

“Evil scheme?”

“That’s what he says. And congressmen don’t lie, right? …  sir? … you’re turning red … are you all right sir?”

“Just a little coughing fit. Must be the garlic bread.”

And then the fun begins. News organizations around the world will devote an inordinate amount of coverage to the Tomato Purity hearings. Fox News will air “The Tomato Terror. America At Risk.” There is talk of canceling “American Idol” and “Toddlers Undercover,”  a shocking expose of how the FBI trains children under two to infiltrate nursery schools suspected of using canned milk.

The CDC and the Department of Agriculture will continue to insist that the mold-tainted tomatoes offer no danger to the public.

Congressman Whizzleton will respond that the CDC is run by a cabal of Communist sympathizers.

It would be impertinent of me to observe that this is an election year and that Congressman Whizzleton, for reasons that may be obvious, is facing an uphill battle for re-election. His opponent, a county sheriff and part-time septic tank refinisher, will say that Whizzleton’s attack on tomatoes is un-American. “There’s nothing wrong with them tomatoes that a little vodka don’t cure. I think the threat to the very fiber of our society and our liberty is arugula, and when I’m elected I’m going to hold hearings on why there’s so much of that French cabbage on our menus.”

God bless America — please.

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a professional mentalist and mind reader who presents his unique and unforgettable program to conventions, college and universities, sales meetings, private parties, business and civic clubs and more. He has also appeared at the Punchline Comedy Club in Atlanta and produces, along with Jerry Farber and Joe M. Turner, Atlanta Magic Night at the Red Light Cafe in Midtown. He is a member of the Psychic Entertainers Association, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Georgia Magic Club,Buckhead Rotary Club and Friends of Jim The Wonder Dog. You can learn more at He is the author of three books: "Living The Dream," the story of the first ten years of FedEx; "Superman, Hairspray, and the Greatest Goat On Earth," a collection of mostly true stories;, and "Yes Ma'am, You're Right: The Essential Rules For Living With A Woman."  Mark's day job is as a freelance writer and communications and marketing consultant. Mark has traveled around the world twice but has never been to Burlington, Vermont. He does not eat beets or chicken livers, and he has never read "Gone With The Wind." He is the only person he knows who was once a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists. He is a fifth generation Atlantan,  the father of three, and the grandfather of five. All offspring are demonstrably perfect. He lives in Smyrna with his wife Rebecca (aka The Goddess) and two dogs: Ferguson, an arrogant Scottish terrier; and, Lola, a Siberian husky who is still trying to figure out what the hell she's doing in Cobb County.