He ain’t heavy, he’s my guv’ner

Gary pulled a boner: Bites never gets caught napping. So when a trusted source e-mailed to inform The Sacramento Bee has begun outsourcing some of its advertising design to New Delhi, there was no surprise here. It’s not like it’s anything new. For instance, last year, after Bee parent McClatchy Co. purchased the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, it cherry-picked the primo properties and offloaded the chaff on Media News, owned and operated by cost-cutting cretin “Lean” Dean Singleton, who stripped down the leftovers and outsourced almost all of the advertising design to India.

There’s more. Bites has previously written about the Web-only newspaper Pasadena Now, which last year became one of the first U.S. media outlets to outsource the gathering of local news content. Here’s their most recent ad on Craigslist, Bangalore: “We seek a newspaper journalist based in India to report on the city government and political scene of Pasadena, California, USA.” Bad news for the Bee’s editorial department, where as many as 15 more jobs are rumored to be on the chopping block.

Critics, mostly from the Bee’s editorial department, have suggested that McClatchy could save far more money by outsourcing upper-management positions. For instance, CEO Gary Pruitt earned more than a $1 million last year with incentive bonuses. Yet the company’s stock price, currently hovering around $13, has fallen 75 percent over the past two years. Surely a 9-year-old street urchin can do as well or better than Pruitt, for a razor-thin fraction of boy wonder’s compensation.

Just Phuket: There’s no use sniveling about all of this. It’s the free market at work, baby, and if it’s good enough for the rest of the country, it’s good enough for the newspaper reporters who’ve been pushing it no-questions-asked for two decades. Reuters news service already employs more than 100 Indian journalists to cover the U.S. financial markets. Bites is light years ahead of ’em all. That’s right, readers. This space has been outsourced since March 2003. Your favorite curmudgeonly columnist is actually a retired 62-year-old basket weaver from Phuket, Thailand.

How does Bites do it, you ask? Technology, brothers and sisters. This week’s hi-tech tip comes from Plutarch via the blogosphere. Plutarch, a Republican and ardent Mitt Romney supporter, realized early on that the Mormon from Massachusetts’ greatest challenge might come from an unknown quarter: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Turns out Plutarch stumbled across something that just might knock formerly fat pastor Huckabee off the rails for good.

He ain’t heavy, he’s my guv’ner: Prior to assuming the lead in the polls for the Iowa Republican presidential caucus, Huckabee’s greatest claim to fame was losing 120 pounds off his previously obese, 300-plus-pound frame in little more than a year. Huckabee says he did it the “hard way,” using a special exercise and diet regime designed by Dr. Phillip Kern, director of the University of Arkansas Medical Center Weight Control Program.

“What if Huckabee’s signature issue is a scam?” asks Plutarch, a California physician who has painstakingly put together a case that suggests the Huckster may have lost the tonnage the new-fashioned way: Through bariatric surgery, also known as gastric bypass surgery, in which the stomach is stapled to reduce the amount the given patient can eat in a sitting. As gruesome as it sounds, it’s easier than dieting and exercising.

What would it mean if Plutarch’s right? Well, according to approximately two-thirds of the Freepers who responded to Plutarch’s treatise after it was posted on conservative Web site Free Republic, it means Huckabee is toast. Of course, there’s always the chance that Plutarch is wrong. At least one Arkansas reporter who’s covered Huck thinks he lost the weight without surgery. The Huckabee campaign had not returned calls by press time, but Bites supposes there might be another, more obvious explanation for the candidate’s weight loss.

Maybe he outsourced it.