It was 1:52 when Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) swaggered to the chairman’s seat at the center of the top row. He grasped the microphone and peered out into the meeting room — his room — at the education lobbyists quietly swarming in from the hallway. Education lobbyists are complacent creatures, so long as you don’t touch their health insurance bennies, and Brooks had good news for them: the Governor was going to hand over more money to the schools, which meant that every lobbyist sitting in the room pulling a taxpayer-subsidized paycheck to lobby for more taxpayer dollars for education was going to receive even more taxpayer dollars for even more lobbying for more taxpayer dollars. It was a beautiful circle, tax dollars begetting lobbyists begetting tax dollars. Brooks knew how to deal. The governor was the sugar daddy, but in his committee room, Brooks was the Governor’s bag man.

He looked around nervously. No sign of the giant insects that had followed him all summer, squawking their gibberish about federal encroachment on state education, and data mining, and agendas infiltrating the curriculum, and unelected private foundations taking over the schools. Geez, when you listened to the insects talk about the evils of mega-curriculum-textbook-testing conglomerates, they sort of sounded like leftists, but they were definitely right-wing reactionaries.

The insects didn’t want Brooks to take free money from Bill Gates. Who wouldn’t want a billionaire’s free money? Especially when it was for the children.

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