Hot time, summer in the city, editorial cartoonists continuing to churn out cheap barbs at easy targets. And our very own cartoon expert the Comics Curmudgeon is here to cool and refresh you with unparalleled insight into those funny drawings in the back of the A section.

Our magical journey through Today's Cartoons begins after the jump. Join us for white collar crime in all its guises, talking animals with bizarre agendas, and violence against public figures.

Boy, is it hot enough for, ya? Jeez, it's so hot that I actually typed that sentence out non-ironically while I was starting this out. While I fortunately am not a resident of the malaria-infested swamp that is our nation's capital, I've still been trapped in the east coast's sweaty miasma, and as a work-at-home type, I can't leech off my employer's utility bills to enjoy free air conditioning. Thus, my brain's a little mushy.

As a result, the things I've most enjoyed this week have been the ones that offer the simple pleasures in life. No nuances for me, thanks; I just want lowest common denominator humor and cheap shots. Fortunately, America's cartooning classes are as ever ready to oblige.

01lay.gifSimple pleasure: Jokes about Ken Lay going to prison.

Things to enjoy: Hey, everybody, Ken Lay's going to prison! That's pretty enjoyable right there. I briefly tuned in several years ago to the Senate Enron hearings and was rewarded by seeing a lawyer indignantly tell Dianne Feinstein that Ken Lay "did not deserve prison rape." Good times, good time. Anyway, presumably America's editorial cartoonists are not allowed to make prison rape jokes, but the "HATE" tattooed on Ken's new roommate's knuckles is a nice touch. There's no corresponding "LOVE" tattoo, so presumably he's just hateful.

Room for improvement: Of course, the irony here would come through better if we knew just what kind of heinous crimes this sickened-by-Ken-Lay fellow had committed, but I suppose establishing his backstory would require an amount of labeling that would just be cumbersome.

02denny.gifSimple pleasure: Jokes about Dennis Hastert's weight.

Things to enjoy: Not only is the list of food items funny, you can actually find all of them in the cartoon itself if you look hard enough. It's like one of those brain-teaser cartoons from Highlights magazine! The chicken, filed under "C", is especially hilarious to me.

Room for improvement: By implying that Hastert is merely hungry, not corrupt, Danziger sadly does not lay the groundwork for an amusingly misguided series of public denials and possible lawsuit from Mistah Speakah.

03snow.gifSimple pleasure: Jokes about Tony Snow's name, and its relationship with his new job.

Things to enjoy: See, his job is to fool and misdirect the press ... to create "snow jobs," if you will ... and his name is Snow! Get it? Get it? Also, it sort of sounds like "blow job", which is also funny, though maybe not the point.

Room for improvement: Yeah, so he's a vaguely handsome, bland-looking white guy, and he's following on the heels of Scott McClellan and his enormous spherical head, but you could put a little effort into caricaturing him, you know? Like, I don't know, make him crying or something. I hear he cries at, like, the drop of a hat.

04bush.gifSimple pleasure: Jokes in which George W. Bush is heckled by a duck.

Things to enjoy: Ha ha, the duck, it's opposed to amnesty! Or at least I think it is. It's not entirely clear, just like it's not entirely clear how the Secret Service allowed this hateful waterfowl to get this close to the president. And it quacks out words, just like the Aflac duck! Although "Aflac" sounds like quacking; "amnesty" not so much. Still, Bush vs. a duck! Comedy gold.

Room for improvement: If you really wanted a xenophobic duck, couldn't you have used Mallard Fillmore? Were there copyright issues?

05bears.gifSimple pleasure: Jokes about talking bears.

Things to enjoy: Man, bears! And they talk! And swim! That's too precious. Yup, I love me some talking bears! Oooh, it's too hot in here. That's what the bears are saying! Ha ha!

Room for improvement: So, it's not entirely clear how this talking floating bear came to be a spokesbear for big oil. Might have been interesting to know that. But, yeah, you know, backstory, cumbersome, too much labeling, all that. Bears! Ha.

06reid.gifSimple pleasure: Jokes in which Harry Reid gets punched in the face.

Things to enjoy: Harry Reid's expression. It's all like, "Oh, shit! This elephant dude is about to punch me in the face!"

Room for improvement: There is no way to improve upon a joke in which Harry Reid gets punched in the face.


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