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WASHINGTON (CAP) - President Barack Obama has announced a new $4 billion initiative aimed at improving the personal hygiene of U.S. gas station attendants and reversing what he calls a 30-year decline in the "pleasant experience of receiving our country's most valuable commodity." He made the announcement while speaking to reporters on the West Lawn.
"While I have not personally pumped or ordered my own unleaded gasoline in, oh, it must be a decade now, I understand what American citizens are going through," Obama said as he detailed the project. "Even though I cannot see the gas station attendant from the back seat of my stretch limousine, I can certainly smell him."
Obama blamed the erosion in self-care among filling station employees for the influx of self-service gas stations over recent years, with many owners opting to keep malodorous attendants behind counters in small payment kiosks out of fear of driving customers away due to the smell. The president called it a self-perpetuating situation.
"Cleanliness begets cleanliness and attracts clean employees," said Obama. "We all want service with a smile - how about a full set of teeth with that smile?"
Republicans blasted the program as "damning to simpleton American rednecks," claiming that requiring greater levels of hygiene among gas station attendants will only succeed in attracting a higher class of employee, who will then demand higher wages and therefore drive up gas prices. Opponents pointed to California's stringent gas station attendant emissions policies as one of the main reasons for gas prices that are consistently among the highest in the nation.
"Nobody disputes that America's gas station attendants need a shower, but where does it stop?" said Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA). "What about that nasty clerk behind the counter at the 7-Eleven? Or that sweaty fat kid serving up your burger at In-N-Out? Where's the money to hose them down?"
While most Democrats support Obama's plan, many who have broken ranks with the president on his healthcare proposal say they'd rather see a portion of this money go toward improving the English-speaking skills of gas station attendants, rather than lining the pockets of the hand sanitizer industry, outspoken lobbyists for gas station attendant hygiene reform.
"Purell, Lysol, Dial - they all stand to gain from this program on the backs of the American taxpayer," said Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR). "If the personal care industry needs a bailout, well they can ask for one just like every other red-blooded American business. Stop hiding behind this facade of the greater good."
Funds for the Wash, Rinse, Repeat initiative will be divvied among the states based on the government's controversial hygienics profiling practices.
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