That’s the name of a popular “Saturday Night
Live” skit in which “anchor” Seth Meyers reports
the latest news of the day with incredulous skepticism and disgust.
The sketch plays on the old comedy maxim that things are funny
because they’re true. But it turns that truism on its ear by
simply using the news itself as the butt of the joke.
Anyone who’s seen the latest Anthony Weiner headlines (Weiner
— Really!?!) can see why it works. You just reach a point
with some news stories, where you have to shake your head and
That’s exactly how I’ve felt as the story unfolded
around the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall of
approximately 1 million drain covers that began just before the
Memorial Day weekend. This latest development in the
ever-developing story that is the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act
Debacle (VGBAD for short) is worthy of its own SNL
“Really!?!” treatment. But Seth Meyers probably
won’t tackle it, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
After more than a year of research and investigation, the CPSC
decides to recall about a million drain covers — two days
before the biggest swim day of the year. Furthermore, the agency
says, the only recourse for affected pools is to shut down.
That’s like telling kids there won't be any presents the day
before Christmas, after they’d worked in sweat shops to make
their own gifts! CPSC couldn’t have started the recall
sooner, or picked a less painful way of dealing with the issue,
like say draining every other public pool in the nation and popping
all floaties? Really!?!
Then, after CPSC announces this massive recall, it gives a bunch of
exceptions to the rule, saying “most” dual main drain
pools are exempt, but warning pool operators to check with
manufacturers if they’re not sure. Oh, and you’d better
keep good records because CPSC will be checking. Really!?!
This is the same agency that did at least three different
interpretations and reinterpretations to the original law that got
us here in the first place. For operators, trusting CPSC at this
point is like agreeing to buy that nice piece of swampland from
your ex-con cousin-in-law and then giving him your house, too.
Now we’re finding out that several manufacturers whose
products have been recalled have not yet “ramped up”
production for the replacements or retrofits. And it’s murky
at best as to who should be doing the replacements or retrofits
from manufacturers who do have the parts available. Oh, and even
though CPSC says manufacturers will foot the bill, operators are
hearing otherwise. Really!?!
So let’s put this into perspective: A law was shoved down the
industry’s throat without proper timing or available products
necessary to comply at a time when most facilities were already
struggling financially. When the product finally was made
available, it got pushed through a shoddy certification process
that resulted in “potentially” unsafe drain covers that
cost a fortune to buy and install. The affected covers (about a
million of them) then were recalled two days before opening day of
swimming, and here’s the kicker, folks, REPLACEMENT PRODUCTS
ARE NOT YET AVAILABLE! Really!?!
CPSC couldn’t have worked with manufacturers to ensure that
when they told an entire nation that pools may be unsafe,
they’d also have the necessary fix? That’s like the
president going on TV to tell us a meteor is hurtling toward Earth,
threatening to wipe out life as we know it. But not to worry.
Scientists have created a special force field to protect us. Well,
most of us. In some parts of the country, the force fields
aren’t ready yet. But they’re