Large and In Charge
Attorney General Janet Napolitano said at a hastily convened press conference on Friday that she is filing a class-action lawsuit against Southwest Airlines because of the company's new policy of charging stout customers double the normal air fare.
The airline's intent to force fat passengers to pay twice the cost of a coach ticket on the theory that these customers often occupy two seats when they lift up the armrest between the aisle seat and the window seat smacks of double jeopardy, said Arizona's top prosecutor and leading gubernatorial candidate.
"I sympathize with the victims of airline gouging," said Napolitano. "I'm a big-boned gal myself. Hell, I'm a load; I'm a pantload. And I'll be candid with you. When I'm retaining water and I have to fly, I've got all the armrests up: aisle, middle and window. Am I supposed to pay for three seats?
"Mary, mother of God, my ankles are killing me!"
Constitutional scholar and key Napolitano supporter John P. Frank said Southwest Airlines' policy, announced June 20, raises troubling legal questions.
"How does Southwest make its decision about where the cutoff is?" pondered Frank. "Who is too big? Is sports attorney Mike Gallagher too big? What about Phoenix Catholic Diocese press officer Marge Injasoulian? Can you be too big to even fly at all?
"On the other hand," said Frank, "Janet's got an ass on her like a wall safe."
Appearing at an airline gate with a cocktail glass clinking in one hand and a cigarette in the other, Southwest chairman Herb Kelleher said he could not understand the constitutional impasse that fretted Frank.
"We already have boxes at the gates that you use to measure your carry-on luggage," said Kelleher. "If you can't fit your behind in the box, you're paying double."
Kelleher hotly denied that he was attempting to extort profits post-9/11.
Instead, said Southwest's leader, it was the union of flight attendants who first brought the issue to his attention.
"We give every customer a peanut when they board," said Kelleher. "But some of the passengers started showing up with buckets of KFC and double orders of taters. The gals are tired of cleaning chicken bones out of the air-sickness bags.
"The real problem starts when some of these double-wides attempt to use the can," claimed Kelleher. "They can't close the bathroom door behind themselves. We've had to use federal air marshals to unplug some of the big 'uns from the head, which just blows the marshals' cover all to hell."
Labor did not speak with one voice on the problem of bulk shipping.
"If this new policy of Southwest's is allowed to stand, it could bankrupt local governments," said Al "Tiny" Lopez, president of the American Federation of State and Municipal Employees (AFSME). "I represent a lot of people who are plus-size as well as a lot of people who will become plus-size after years on the public payroll. No city, county or state agency could afford to pay double for all of their business travelers. Are we supposed to fly America West and kiss our luggage goodbye?"
But Southwest's rival for sub-Saharan-style travel refused to be drawn into the cellulite crisis.
"We have no intention of matching Southwest's knuckle-headed move," said the clearly amused head of America West, Doug Parker.
However, Parker said his people are not ignoring the issue and have offered hefty fees for the naming rights on Napolitano's rear end.
In the political arena, the Committee to Elect Janet Napolitano Governor announced over the weekend that it would hold a fund raiser based upon everyone's right to fly coach fare regardless of displacement.
Speaking out on Saturday, committee chair and former broadcaster Jana Bommersbach revealed that she would be assisted locally by her friends Brooke Bodney, Athia Hardt and Curley Culp. They will be joined nationally by Janet Reno, Al Roker and Garrison Keillor and have set a goal of raising $250,000 in order to bring the issue to the media forefront.
"We're coming on, and we're coming on strong," declared Bommersbach, who compared the collectivized strength of obese people to a 100-year storm starring George Clooney.
Catered by Sir George's Royal Buffet, the Baby Got Back Ball will feature the music of blues legend Howlin' Wolf, said entertainment chairs Jineane Ford and her horse.
In front of a clearly uncomfortable contingent of the assembled press, KPNX-TV's Ford and her horse Gordita, accompanied by County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, broke into an impromptu karaoke moment, with the trio belting and whinnying Wolf's "300 Pounds of Joy":
"Let me be your lover boy/300 pounds of heavenly joy/This is it/This is it/Look what ya git."
New York Senator Hillary Clinton donated for auction to the Baby Got Back Ball plaster casts of her calves suitable as found art or soup tureens.
The former first lady suggested that Southwest would be better off hiring "mamas in muumuus" to replace the "skanks in shorts" currently working as stews.
"Haven't Monica and I proved," said Clinton via cell phone, "that powerful men . . ." static . . . "going downtown . . ." static . . . "frequent flyer miles . . ." static . . . "coming up for air . . ." static . . . "satisfied customers . . ." static.
Gubernatorial rival and Independent Party candidate Richard Mahoney interrupted the incessant piping upon his tin whistle to note that the airline controversy stirred strong memories.
"Ripping off the dimensionally challenged," observed Mahoney, "reminds me of the hurdles confronting Camelot when Jackie went to bat for Kate Smith after the Rat Pack refused to allow the singer on stage during the filming of . . . (SMACK !!! Shut up you whack-job)."
Democratic party hopeful Alfredo Gutierrez growled for 10 seconds when reached for comment: "AAAAHHHHHH . . . AAAAHHHHH. . . . What's Athia Hardt doing at this ball for 'Seesters With Big Keisters'? Whose side is she on?"
Defending Hardt's decision, the Baby Got Back Ball's Bommersbach said it was time for everyone to come to the defense of battered women and huge people of all genders.
"Southwest's new policy," said Bommersbach, "discriminates against people many of whom have a medical condition."
"Crapola," replied Kelleher.
"Southwest understands the plight of people with true eating disorders," insisted Kelleher as he pulled on his cigarette. "Tell you what we're going to do here. Your anorexics, your bulimics, starting today they fly half price. Two to a seat.
"As for the rest of 'em," said Kelleher, draining his refreshing beverage, "untie the oat bag."
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