Bigger than a tall building,
Faster than a light-rail train,
Exploiter of the ignorant, shafter of the hapless,
Wiser than God and richer than you, it’s…
Bazooka Nanny: Government Superhero
Today’s episode: Ugly Wallpaper
“Are you going to get that?! That alarm’s been going off for the last half-hour.”
Nanny peered over his bag of potato chips at his wide-screen TV. Reclined on the couch, his beer belly provided a nice, convenient shelf on which to rest the bag, not too far away that he had to reach to get at it, not so close that it blocked his view. “Hold on!” he called back. “Let me just make it to the next commercial break.”
Control stomped in from the next room and positioned her body in front of the television screen. “Now,” she intoned, pointing at the emergency-monitor console.
“Damn,” Nanny muttered as he rolled off the couch. “There ought’a be a law against that.”
“What did you say?” Control sounded annoyed.
“Nothing,” Nanny said.
He sat in front of the console and punched a few buttons.
“Yikes!” He jolted from his chair. “I gotta go,” he said. “Looks like another hapless consumer being exploited by an evil capitalist.”
“Well, good luck,” said Control. “And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“Yeah, right,” he muttered, as he took off on wingless flight toward the site of the trouble.
“…and I think,” said Linda to her friend and client, Suzanne, “a red throw rug would accent the color scheme you chose for the room—”
“Aha!” Nanny interrupted, swooping in from nowhere, pulling his bazooka from his pants—no one knows how he fits it in there, but there must be a lot of excess room.
“Bazooka Nanny!” exclaimed Suzanne. “What’s the matter?!”
“Fear not, fair damsel!” he replied.
“Nanny?” Linda asked. “But… you’re a guy.”
Swiftly aiming the barrel of his bazooka straight at Linda’s head: “Okay, slowly and carefully, let’s see your interior designer’s license.”
“My what?” Confusion and horror washed over Linda’s face.
“Ha! I thought as much,” Nanny said. “You thought you could get away with cheating the American public, but we’re on to you!”
Suzanne interevened. “There must be some mistake. Linda’s one of the nicest, most honest people I know. She’s always had good ideas, and I’ve always been thrilled with her work.”
“Ha! Fooled you, too, I see. But tell me this: if she’s so honest, why is she practicing interior design without a license?”
“Without a…” Suzanne’s puzzled words trailed off, as she regrouped. “I’m sure it’s just an oversight. She clearly knows what she’s doing.”
“Not so! Unlicensed operators can kill! But fear not, fair damsel! I’ve brought with me a qualified interior designer.”
At that point, a tall, thin man strolled into the room, dressed in a designer jacket, hands clasped behind his back.
“How did he get in here?!” Suzanne objected.
“Oh my!” The man spoke with a lisp. “Red is absolutely the worst color for this room. The energies of the universe would play a cosmic game of badminton with your fate, and you would end up with an awful disease, like cholera.”
“Is that gibberish?” Suzanne asked.
Linda regrouped, at least enough to answer for her friend. “We don’t do feng shui. We’re not into that sort of thing.”
“Silence, villain!” Nanny shouted at her, readjusting his aim. “You’ve ruined your last living room!”
A new voice suddenly rang out. “I think we’ve heard enough of this.”
“Damn!” Nanny said. “It’s my arch-enemy, Syl.”
“Syl?” asked Suzanne. “Is that a name.”
“It’s short for Sylvester.” The new voice came from a tall, broad-shouldered man with sandy hair and blue eyes. He wore a suit and tie and carried a beige attaché, and he spoke in rich, dulcet tones that filled the room. “I’m a civil liberties attorney,” he explained. “I’ve been following your progress, Nanny.”
“Don’t call me that!” Nanny objected.
“Why not? It’s your name.” And without waiting for an answer, “You’re through tormenting these poor people, Nanny. Pack up your bazooka and go home.” It sounded more like an order than a request.
Suzanne spoke up. “Aren’t you the guy who’s always putting criminals back out on the streets?”
Syl spoke matter-of-factly. “No, you’re thinking of criminal defense attorneys. I’m here to stand up for everyone’s right to put up ugly wallpaper.”
Nanny snarled. “There is no right to ugly wallpaper!”
“That’s what you think, Nanny. But you’re wrong!”
In a fit of sudden rage, Nanny swung his bazooka around at Syl and fired.
But Syl was ready for him. In a well-practiced motion that would have impressed Kwai Chang Caine, he blocked Nanny’s swing with his briefcase, and the bazooka blew a hole in the wall behind him. Syl stepped up his attack, with fists of lightning knocking Nanny to the floor.
“Look what you’ve done now, Nanny. You’re going to fix their house, aren’t you, Nanny?”
Nanny couldn’t reach his bazooka, because the damn lawyer was blocking the way. “Damn!” he said. “I hate ugly wallpaper.” Then, “There ought’a be a law against that.”
“Yes, I know,” Syl said, as if he were talking to a small child. He helped Nanny up off the floor and began walking him away from the disaster area. “Don’t worry,” he said with an air of condescension. “Maybe you’ll be able to shut down the unlicensed flower arrangers instead.” He chuckled.
Today’s episode was inspired by an actual Florida law (which resembles laws in a number of other states) that forbids people from giving interior design advice unless the first go through a convoluted and expensive government-licensing process. The Institute for Justice wants to challenge the law, because it represents prior restraint of First Amendment speech. The U.S. Supreme Court is to decide today whether it will hear the case.
Here’s Reason.tv’s video “Throw-Pillow Fight: Is your interior designer really putting your life at risk?”
UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case against interior-design licensing. The Nanny State lives on!