Washington - The Vice President's office announced today that it has sold the American rights to punctuation of the English language in an auction which had not been advertised to the public; the winners will choose the new names for the characters.
Spokesperson Dan Druff answered queries about the amount of money raised by saying "I'm not really at liberty to discuss that." When pressed for further explanation by reporter Helen Thomas, Druff, plainly exasperated, added, "Look: there's an undisclosed location for people who won't take 'Huh' for an answer." Also missing was any description of where the money would go. "It will be taken care of, that's really all that's important."
One reporter muttered, "It kind of gives new meaning to 'The buck stops here'".
The amount is reputed to total well over ten billion dollars from winning bids by several different prominent corporations which see a chance to increase their name recognition and gain more market share. There were questions about the legality of at least one of the products made by a winning bidder.
Say hello to some old friends under their new names:
Some reporters at the press conference were confused by the last two entries. "What the hell is 'Quorn'?" asked one afterwards. "I thought Phen-fen was illegal," said another. "Are they buying something else besides the rights to some punctuation?"
Quorn is a British food product made from mycoprotein - fungus. The company expects to triple its market share in the US in just a few months as the name becomes more well known. "It cost us a tidy packet, but it's certainly worth it," said spokesperson Henry Hibbington-Smith. "Honestly, we would pay more if we had to."
In a similar vein the press was shown a videotape of another of the Vice President's projects, although this one is still in the planning stages. Druff explained that once the office saw how much money corporations would pay for the rights to English punctuation it was a no-brainer to auction the rights to the letters themselves, naming them after the winners. The only requirement was that the name actually begin with its letter.
"It's pretty obvious that the bidding wars will be intense," he said, "but sometimes you have to show people how these things can work before they really understand. For example, 'E' is the most common letter in the English language. Now, who would get the most benefit from owning that one?"
The tape showed small children spelling out the Pledge of Allegiance, hands over hearts: