Washington, DC -- America is about to pay a high price for its love affair with its five favorite letters. The vowels -- A,E,I,O,U -- have become so popular that there aren't enough of them to go around, according to a recently published FB* report.
The research study, titled "Where Have All the Letters Gone?" is said to be the first ever alphabetical census ever conducted. It found that while the world is awash in consonants, a good vowel is hard to find.
"While we've yet to pin down the main cause for the shortage, we believe that organized crime can be blamed for starting the problem," the report said.
"Count how many vowels the word 'Mafia' contains. Then consider the names of the traditional families: Gambino, Corleone, Gotti, Colombo, Genovese. It quickly becomes clear that the mob's thirst for vowels triggered the current AEI OU shortage."
Another indication of the severity of the vowel crisis can be seen on the TV game show "Wheel of Fortune." Vowels usually sold to contestants for $50 are now being priced upwards of $2000 each.
"I'm not complaining," said "Wheel" host Pat Sajak. "With the high price of vowels, most of the players owe us money at the end of each game. Vanna and I plan to use the extra cash to quit this crazy business and elope."
Pentagon officials point out that a lack of vowels is not fun and games for them. "Imagine getting a message declaring w*r," one said. "By the time you confirm what the word w*r is supposed to mean, your forces have been bombed to sh*t."
To ease the military's worries, Congress and Pres. Obama have appropriated funds to create a Strategic Vowel Reserve. Consisting of the world's largest server array, the facility will be housed in an undisclosed location. It will feature keyboards containing just five keys that will be used to access the gaga billions* of valuable vowels contained within.
In taking credit for the reserve idea, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said there might be a problem in filling the stockpile since all of America's vowels are currently produced in China.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, meanwhile, called John Boehner's reserve concept "an idea that should be reserved for idiots." He explained that the names of all Apple products begin with an "I."
"That means when this shortage hits for real, 'I' go out of business."
State and local police departments, meanwhile, are warning the public to avoid illegal street deals for letters. "These characters are created in portable lex labs by amateur librarians looking to make a quick million," a spokesman said. "We've been trying to book them, but they are hard to use in a sentence."
*A unit of measurement, based on pi, infinity and the diameter of Lady Gaga's left breast.