GUEST COMMENTARY: Catering to the frozen pizza, tater tot and tomato paste lobbies

Friday, December 2, 2011 | 2:22 p.m. CST

How small-minded is Congress? How tangled-up in a right-wing ideological knot is it? How subservient to corporate lobbyists?

The answers to these three questions are: pizza, tomato paste and spuds.

At a time when doctors and nutritionists are sounding a national alarm about a diabetes epidemic caused by gross obesity, including in children, Congress, in all its majesty, has killed an effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make school lunches healthier. Why?

Three reasons:

  1. Congress is incapable of meeting America's big needs, so it's rationalizing its existence by messing with the small stuff.
  2. The right-wing ideologues in Congress are so batty that they even oppose federal rules to improve our children's health.
  3. And, most significantly, the French fry lobby, tomato paste lobby and frozen pizza lobby put big bucks into congressional campaigns, and they pulled the strings of our lawmakers.

So the financial interests of corporate powers — including Coca Cola, ConAgra and Del Monte — have overridden the interest of America's school children.

Yet members of Congress still say they can't figure out why their public approval rating has crashed to an all-time low of 9 percent.

Nine percent! Good grief.

As Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., recently pointed out to his colleagues, the oil giant BP, at the height of its disastrous contamination of our Gulf, at least held on to a 16 percent approval rating.

The IRS gets a 40 percent rating on its job performance, and even the idea of America becoming communist draws 11 percent support.

The real question is, who makes up the 9 percent that approves of this Congress?

I'm guessing they're relatives, staffers and the two Koch Brothers. Plus, of course, corporate lobbyists.

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. This column was written for

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Michael Williams December 2, 2011 | 3:19 p.m.

The kids are sayin' they're damned glad the tofu lobby didn't prevail.

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