One of the most fascinating things to me is the government’s concern with the “fattening” of America.

Forget about the people without homes and starving, the elderly choosing between groceries and prescriptions and folks beginning to auction their firstborn on eBay to pay for gasoline ... let’s crack down on the fat folks.

Seems everywhere you look, a government official is calling for schools to remove snack machines, requiring the posting of calories at fast-food joints or restructuring the food pyramid in the image of Richard Simmons.

Don’t get me wrong. As someone who knows the ill-effects of too many luscious Sweetheart Bakery doughnuts, it’s pretty important to stay up on what’s good for you and what’s not — and doughnuts, candy bars or anything that doesn’t taste like pureed spinach seemingly falls into the “not” category.

As usual, however, the government’s efforts are going down the toilet — literally, in this case.

Americans are busting out at the seams more because of laziness than over-consumption of Ding Dongs, and it couldn’t have become clearer on how lazy we’ve become than on a trip to Myrtle Beach late last year for some golf and deep-fried seafood.

Because of a few too many Diet Mountain Dews to ensure I stayed awake for the late-night drive, I was quite eager for the mandatory pit stop at Fort Chiswell, Va. As it turns out, so were the facilities.

I was greeted by a commode that looked like one of those Cylon things from “Battlestar Gallactica,” complete with a red-eye sensor eerily moving back and forth. Now, I’m guessing, that meant the TurboFlush 2000 was malfunctioning, because it started sucking water with more fervor than a 5-year-old with a chocolate milkshake before I got halfway through my baritone rendition of “Moon River.”

Stepping backward out of the stall to avoid what I thought would soon become a sinkhole, I was startled by the motion-controlled sink, which had also come on with the force of Niagara Falls. That is, the water flowed freely until I stuck my hands beneath the faucet, at which time it shut off until I caved in and did my best Fred Astaire impression to lure it back to life. Next was the automatic paper towel dispenser, which leaves you waving at the wall like one of those queens in a Christmas parade just to produce enough product to towel off your fingers.

Are these things really necessary? I guess somebody had the good intentions of preventing the spread of germs, but they’ve left America’s waistlines spreading into Canada for goodness sake.

Now, I’m sure that having to flush a toilet and turn on your own sink probably won’t trim the pounds quite as quickly as jaunting around the park, but it couldn’t hurt. After all, the folks who eat the most are going to be flushing most often, and that little bend and flick might be good for the burning of at least 10 calories, eh Mr. Simmons?

So, wise up legislators. Focus your resources on simple, everyday activities that will help folks stay healthy ... like dealing with health care issues that keep thousands out of doctor’s offices because they can’t afford the bills, much less the insurance.

Until then, I wash my hands of the whole situation ... and I’ll even turn my own faucet.


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