TO: All National Petroleum Unlimited employees
FROM: Jack Morris, CEO

Has this CEO gone soft, or was there something sweet — nay, touching — in the details of President Bush’s new emissions plan? Rather than demand that we do our part to slow the pace of global warming, he’s simply letting us volunteer! Friends, this man trusts us, and America’s coal and oil industry must rise to the occasion.

Emitting nothing but love.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Critics have already called the president’s plan a disappointment and hauled out wonky charts showing how similar voluntary programs failed miserably under the first Bush. But we don’t care what the charts say; we care what our hearts say! And while I can’t speak for everyone in this company — or so my lawyer says — I think it’s safe to say our hearts will heed the call. Just look at the policies I’ve already implemented since the president’s moving gesture:


  1. All profits in 2002-2003 to be donated to Nature Conservancy.
  2. All employees will now bicycle to work.
  3. Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

  4. The cafeteria will now offer tofu alternatives on Steak ‘n’ Sea Bass Tuesdays.
  5. Future conversation(s) with Vice President Cheney to be conducted in public. (I talked to the maitre d’ at Ruth’s Chris — we can still meet there, but will no longer rent out the entire restaurant and blacken the windows.)
  6. Politicians may still receive gifts from our lobbyists, but only if hand-made. Note: There’s glitter in my top drawer!

Bear with me, colleagues — Bush’s volunteer plan was so shrewd that I brainstormed additional volunteer scenarios late into the night, in many cases doing so outside the box. I plan to discuss these scenarios with the president at our first Optional Spotted Owl Task Force Conference Call (F.O.S.O.T.C.).


On my way out of the box, it occurred to me that this exciting new trend of optionalizing regulations needn’t stop with the environmental sector. I’m thinking: Let’s take the “enforce” out of law enforcement.

I propose that existing “laws” be nuanced into “advisements,” a language more comfortable to American enterprise. Our current judicial system — correct me if I’m wrong, people — leans hard on the so-called criminal. Even those who don’t commit crimes are perpetually discouraged from doing so via heavy-handed reminders of the stiff consequences. Why not “mellow out” a little bit, give citizens incentives for good behavior rather than penalties for bad? Surely a misdemeanor here and there is no more significant than the future of our environment — so why the uneven government response?

I know what you’re thinking: What about crazed maniacs with bloody hooks for hands? The answer, colleagues, is Yes. “Yes” may be the biggest little word this executive has heard since “junk bonds,” and that’s technically two words. I’m confident that the coordinated deployment of positivity and trust into the criminal world will win over the nation’s misguided delinquents. Before long they will be following the reinvented oil industry into the warm light of global responsibility.

But I wasn’t born yesterday. Even though we will never again need to send a U.S. citizen up the river, we mustn’t forget that some people are already imprisoned. Our existing penal institutions, then, should consider a more Bush-like approach to incarceration: Credits! Convicts who exercise restraint should be entitled to collect a rough equivalent to the emissions credits outlined in the president’s plan. These credits can then be traded for exciting prizes.

Finally, this strategy will allow Washington to devote more time to its new priority: Encouraging our new population of citizen-volunteers. This can be done with tax incentives, government appointments, and of course hand-made gifts. Again, plenty of glitter in my desk, which shall remained unlocked from now on.