I was just getting out of the shower when the landline rang. Since I was expecting a work-related call, I cursed my luck, wrapped a towel around myself, and ran for the kitchen, snagging the receiver on the fourth ring.
It wasn't work-related. It was state treasurer John Kennedy. Or, as he put it, "STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY."
"THIS IS STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY," he thundered. "AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW: MARY LANDRIEU IS LYING ABOUT MY RECORD." It sounded like he was getting wound up on a stemwinder, but I don't exactly know what Mary Landrieu was lying about (not paying library fines? kicking puppies? finding the king cake baby?), because I slammed down the phone before I actually found out.
How can politicians do this when we're on the national Do Not Call list? Simple: the law was written specifically to exempt them:
Political solicitations are not covered by the TSR at all, since they are not included in its definition of telemarketing.
Well, they're included in my definition of telemarketing, and they're just as annoying as the infamous Heather From Account Services.
State Senator John Kennedy, this is Kevin; since you feel free to call me, though we've never met, I thought we should be on a first-name basis. (Love your MySpace, by the way. Meat Loaf, Elvis, and Hank Williams? Hmmm. Not a fan of Louisiana musicians, I see.)
Anyway, John -- John-John, Johnipur, Johnmeister the McTreasury Dude -- since we're besties these days, I thought you should know: whatever chance you had at getting my vote went down the drain with the shower water.
If Mary Landrieu is lying about your record, you've got a lot of ways to get satisfaction. You can take out political ads. You can call a lawyer. You can go on Judge Judy. You can call out Mitch behind the bleachers at De La Salle and make his sister stop saying all those mean things about you....
...and the law, unfortunately, says you can call me at home. The law allows us to do a lot of obnoxious things.
Since we have no legal recourse to keep our elected officials from using computers to bother us in our own homes, I suppose all we can do is treat them like telemarketers and refuse to buy what they're selling. Of course, the alternative would be for me to call my new buddy John at home when he was taking his own shower. Or eating dinner. Or listening to Meat Loaf. Or sleeping.
But I suspect that the hoi polloi calling their elected representatives at home to vent grievances would constitute harassment and be illegal, unethical, and just plain obnoxious.
When they do it to us, it's just politics.