The State of the Column is good. It is strong, it is vibrant and it is flourishing. Despite the naysayers, columns continue to thrive. And not just because of columnists like me, but because of you, the American people.
There are more columns than ever now. There are advice columns, sports columns, political columns, humor columns, chess columns, bridge columns and, of course, this column about columns.
Before going onto other subjects, I must address the subject of security. I have good news and bad news to report. The bad news is there's more plagiarism than ever. The good news is that since fewer people are reading these days, fewer people are reading plagiarized works.
I've got nothing against lawyers. In fact, some of my best friends are lawyers. And some of my best lawyers are friends.
(Spontaneous laughter and applause)
But I am against frivolous lawsuits - especially the kind in which someone can sue me just because I may have made some mistakes when it comes to pesky things like facts. I can't remember whether it was a famous Supreme Court Justice or a Hall of Fame catcher who first said, "One man's slander is another man's, 'I was just kidding.'"
There's been a lot of talk lately about gay couples writing columns together. While I respect everybody's freedom to write with whomever they choose in the privacy of their own office, the sanctity of the institution of the Column must be protected. If legislation is necessary to preserve this institution, so be it.
Let's talk about abstinence. I support abstinence - abstinence from writing lies, abstinence from people taking themselves too seriously and abstinence from mean-spiritedness. Along those lines, I support a federal program of $300 billion to help teach people to count to 10 before they say something they might regret.
Anyone who reads my column knows I'm not someone who has a surplus of columns sitting around waiting to be used whenever I need them. Instead, I've chosen to pattern my behavior after the federal government's. Just as the current administration keeps promising to spend more and more money without explaining where the money is going to come from, I promise to continue to write more columns even though I don't know where the ideas are going to come from. And I have a feeling I will be getting these ideas from the same place that the government will be getting all this money - from you, the American people.
The United States of America has blessed me with the privilege of writing a column, but I'm not satisfied with the status quo. I hope that more and more people will read my column. Some will enjoy it, and some will hate it. But that is the American way.
And so in this 21st century, I hope that my column will not just be read here. I hope it won't just be read in Iowa, and I hope it won't just be read in New Hampshire. And you know something? And you know something? It's going to be read in South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico and California and Texas and New York and Missouri and Arkansas and Connecticut and Washington D.C.
Now, wait a minute. I did not just "lose it" or have a "meltdown." I just, uh, uh, well ...well, I, ... the United States of America is the greatest country in the world!
(Spontaneous applause and standing ovation)
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.
By Lloyd Garver
Copyright 2004 CBS. All rights reserved.