The Rant 

Because of the necessary delays in the print medium between writing and being read, I know that I am ringing in late on this one, but I hope that I am just adding one more voice to an outraged clamor. Hopefully by the time you read this everyone from Colbert to Poehler have already expressed their dismay at the diminishment of one of the great American symbols, the neutering of an object that said all that needed to be said about this fine country, the shrinking of that which spelled hope. I refer, of course, to the newest incarnation of the Wienermobile.

We have all grudgingly accepted change brought about because of the pocket-padding of the oil companies — downsizing our own vehicles, forgoing that road trip to Destin to ogle the former Ole Miss cheerleaders chasing their toddlers in the sand, and even briefly considering walking somewhere. But when Oscar Mayer announced it would be changing the legendary Wienermobile from one powered by something like the van you traveled across the country in with your terrible band in the '80s to one propelled by a Mini Cooper, it signaled a final surrender.

Yes, it may be sending the message that even a giant meat company cares about conserving energy, but it also sent another message: We have a smaller wiener. We are no longer the big or the swinging.

Having lived in Midtown for many years, I've grown accustomed to seeing the future of conservation, and it isn't pretty. In order to live in a world where gas goes for five clams a gallon, we will have to adapt like the hippies. First, our cars will shrink. (I don't own an SUV, but I do have a gigantic hunk of used Bavarian engineering that eats fuel like Tim Sampson downs margaritas.) But one day soon, I'll have to follow the hippies and get something that putters or, God forbid, just makes an electric hum. This, by the way, is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to electric cars for guys. It's going to be very hard to get most males to accept vehicles that don't growl like animals and make us feel all manly. You know, like we'll have trouble accepting the smaller wiener thing.

Then, inevitably, along will come the bicycles. Don't start sending those e-mails, bike people. I already have a collection. Bike people love them some bikes, and they hate it when someone like me points out that, while, yes, they do have the same legal rights as cars, they are also giving away about 2,000 pounds in that debate. You have the right; I have the fender. But maybe we'll all strap on those mushroom-cap helmets and snug little shorts and commute via peddle power. If that's the future, I'm going to look into the cryogenic thing to see if I can maybe wait and catch the next one.

The sad thing in all of this is that we have to do anything. I come from a generation where the government was expected to take charge in these matters. Do I want an electric car? Good God, no. But, if the federal government made it a rule, then we'd all go get one. I don't like wearing a seat belt, but they made it a rule, so I do. I don't like having fast-food wrappers pile up in my car instead of throwing them out the window, but I live with it because it's a rule. I also want to set forest fires, smoke in church, carry a 12-pack into the movies, and keep a llama, but alas, the government stepped in and made rules.

I know what you're asking: Are you advocating that the government mandate conservation? Well, yeah. You know why? Because I'm lazy, indolent, and short-sighted and have absolutely no self-control. Seriously, I own the Perfect Push-up and a topsy-turvy tomato garden on a stick because they were sold on TV when I was drinking. And you know what? You're the same way. We're not going to lower our thermostat, water our yard less, or drive something from the Ed Begley collection unless someone tells us to do so.

But I beg you, my leaders, my government, my betters, keep your tin snips off my wiener ... mobile.

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