So, Jesus Christ walks into a comedy club …

’Tis the season: Comedian Michael Yager does this Jesus impersonation bit that’s great for the holidays, unless of course you’re one of those hardcore Bible thumpers, in which case taking the Lord’s name into a comic vein might seem to be in bad taste.

That’s what Yager says he discovered when he called up the Sacramento Food Bank trying to turn his November 14-18 gig at the Punchline in Sacramento (where he opens for Becky Pedigo and Tom Rhodes) into a benefit for the hungry.

Maybe it wasn’t the wisest move for Yager to give the volunteers at the food bank, which is operated by Catholic Charities, a rundown on his Jesus schtick when he called to ask for a donation bin to be placed at the show.

But an even worse response—worse, according to the program director, Peter Berghuis—came back from the Sacramento Food Bank “supervisor” who called Yager to tell him they couldn’t support such comic blasphemy. The person denied him a donation bin and abruptly hung up.

“We don’t control or decide what people will do for their drives,” said Berghuis, who said he believes he knows who the overzealous volunteer in question is and planned to give her a dressing down. He also plans to tell the program’s 700 volunteers that all donations are welcome, even from Jesus impersonators.

One scoop or two? Attention readers, this is the exclusive investigative report—found only here in your Capital Bites column—that blows the lid off deceptive marketing tactics by television journalists like KOVR Channel 13’s Jon Baird. And remember, you heard it here, first!

Did that get your attention? Well, that’s the kind of grabby, self-important intro that Baird used last week to introduce his story about deputy district attorney John Goldthorpe being investigated in connection with the death of O Thi Huy‘nh 25 years ago, calling it an “I-team exclusive.”

Now, usually “exclusive” means that you have a story that nobody else does, not one that appeared on the cover of SN&R that very morning (see “The Mystery of O,” November 1), or The Daily Recorder in June.

And usually, “investigative” means that you actually did a lot of leg work in uncovering the story rather than just having it handed to you by local private investigator Rick Von Geldern, who didn’t even get credit in Baird’s piece.

Now back to our regularly scheduled column.

What a turkey! Assembly Republican leader Dave Cox opened his Fair Oaks home to journalists this week for a turkey dinner and some schmoozing. It was a down-home affair, with Assemblyman Tim Leslie carving the bird and Assemblyman (and congressional hopeful) Mike Briggs playing a couple of Spanish ballads on his guitar.

So festive was the ambience that nobody even seemed to want to talk shop. There were no open discussions of politics or policy during the two hours that the press corps grazed and chatted.

Yet as the affair wound down and the wine settled in, Bites couldn’t resist a little rhetorical sparring, asking Cox and Leslie about Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg’s proposal to regionalize sales tax revenue in the five-county Sacramento area—a hot button anti-sprawl measure that would raid the coffers of affluent suburban cities in their Republican districts.

Outrageous, they cried. Against free-market principles. A raid on the haves of Roseville by the have-nots of Sacramento. What’s so bad about auto dealers and Wal-Marts anyway that we need to interfere with competition among cities to house them? And what’s so bad about sprawl?

Bites tried to argue about the air pollution, traffic congestion and other quality of life issues associated with sprawl, but it was clear that we simply looked at our area from different perspectives. And if it wasn’t clear during the debate, it sure was afterward when Cox said, “I’ve always thought the News & Review should be printed on better quality paper, because then it might be worth something.”

Good food, a lively political debate and a funny one-liner from the host. It was truly a lovely evening.