by Jordan Zakarin
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke announced early Friday the bailout of J. Arthur Honeycutt, a retired bank magnate from Houston. Honeycutt, 81, the retired founder of a meatpacking empire, lost several million dollars investing in a thoroughbred stable that claimed to create Mr. Ed-like talking horses. The stable went bankrupt several months ago.
“After meeting last night, we have decided to take this swift and necessary action,” the Fed said in a released statement. “The current uncertainty in the markets has left many unfortunate investors like Mr. Honeycutt with sizable but in no way crippling losses to their billion dollar portfolios, and we believe the best thing that can be done for the fiscal health of the country is to make sure rich magnates are able to recoup any and all capital they lost in wild, pie-in-the-sky, unlikely to succeed investments.”
Honeycutt, who resides on a sprawling 130-acre estate in suburban Houston, has seen significant hardship since the investment went belly up in February. He was forced into the humiliation of reducing his exclusive Oak Knoll golf course membership to pool-only, and had to ask a friend to take him as a guest to the club’s restaurant to satisfy his starvation for executive chef Rafael Ochoa’s famous leg of lamb dish.
“He sucked down that lamb like it was caviar,” noted one club observer, unaware that the struggling Honeycutt had not eaten a dish costing more than $65 in nearly two weeks.
President Bush, in a press conference Friday, appealed to the country’s better angels as he tried to rally support for the Fed’s decision. “I have full confidence in chairman Bernanke and the board’s decision. They don’t make bailout decisions willy-nilly, or take any economic matters lightly, in fact,” said the President. “This administration believes deeply in the sanctity of the free market. But as Americans, we take care of fellow citizens in need, and I cannot think of anyone more desperate for help than Mr. Honeycutt.”
The President continued his emotional appeal, detailing the hardship that Honeycutt has endured over the past month.
“Sometimes, people enter into contracts without fully recognizing the risks involved. Through no fault that any compassionate human being could possibly assign to him, Mr. Honeycutt got caught up in some faulty investments. For an entire thirty days, he has been dealt the humiliation of having to drive his own 2007 Mercedes S-Class Eagle I by himself, without a driver,” the President muttered, muffled by sniffles and misty eyes.
“At one point, this brave soul even got temporarily lost, though thankfully he quickly found his way thanks to the car’s built in GPS direction system. But I cannot in good conscience risk a further, more drastic meltdown, so I enthusiastically back the Fed’s decision.”
When reached for comment, Honeycutt declined to speak, but an assistant did talk briefly on condition of anonymity. “It’s been terrible. At his weekly polo match, he received some friendly ribbing from friends after declining to join them in an afternoon of real estate speculating. It broke his heart, but what was he to do? He just doesn’t have the cash right now to buy up thousands of acres of barren south Texan land at a time for sport.
“He’s had to allow three long-time maids go, bringing the house help-staff roster down to 24. He almost had to prepare his own sandwich at one point, because the skeleton house crew was busy tending to the pack of mongoose Mr. Honeycutt keeps as pets. Luckily, a child of one of the maids was roaming the house, and was able to put jelly to bread well enough to make a passable sandwich.”
The Federal Reserve has yet to release the exact financial details of the bailout, but the total package is expected to finance repairs to the 81-year old’s yacht, which has come under wear and tea from a preponderance of Republican fundraising dinners.