Column: Chicago oligarch caught infiltrating holiday food drive in attempt to make handsome columnist look bad – Chicago Tribune


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Opinion content—editorials, columns and guest commentaries—is created independent of news reporting and is exclusive to subscribers. Before I get into this case of insidious philanthropic subterfuge, let me bring everyone up to speed on the food drive in question. For the fourth year in a row, I’m encouraging readers to donate to the Greater Chicago Food Depository under one of two team names: RexStinks or RexRocks. This is a sensible, capitalist way of letting the free market determine whether I am a national treasure or an international disgrace. Earlier this week, donations to the RexRocks team (more than $50,000 already!) were walloping donations to the RexStinks team (about $2,000). Then something strange happened. The RexStinks team’s total suddenly jumped by $10,000. I knew it had to be him. My arch-nemesis: THE OLIGARCH. Sure enough, the team at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, an organization that provides food to more than 700 pantries throughout the Chicago area, contacted me and said a conservative donor who thinks me quite the ninny had donated $10,000. But there was more: This almost annoyingly kind monster said he will match every donation to the RexStinks team until that team’s total has reached $50,000. I pulled out the Obama-issued calculator that I keep in my soy drawer at the Radical Leftists Institute for the Promotion of Socialism and did some calculations. With the oligarch’s 10-grand donation, the RexStinks team is at about $12,600. I took a break to smoke some marijuana with my antifa platoon and teach rural children about critical race theory, then finished the math: There’s about $37,400 to go before the total hits $50,000, so the oligarch is going to match $37,400 worth of RexStinks donations. THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS AND ALSO FANTASTIC! And it has the real potential to vault the RexStinks team into the lead as we hit the halfway point of the virtual food drive. This presents me with a moral quandary. On one hand, I’m delighted the oligarch is spending his money helping people facing food insecurity at a time when the demand at food pantries, because of the ongoing pandemic, is painfully high. I mean, it’s better than him buying a smaller yacht for his yacht or booking a flight to space on Jeff Bezos’ ego rocket. At the same time, it ups the chances the RexStinks team will secure its first-ever victory in the Insult-A-Columnist Holiday Food Drive. That could damage the otherwise impeccable reputation that I do not have. Hmmm. I suppose I’ll leave it up to you all, the readers and kind donors to decide. (Though I do hereby grant permission to those who like me to donate to RexStinks so they can leverage that sneaky oligarch’s matching funds.) You have plenty of impetus to give this year, aside from the inherent soul-cleansing, karma-repairing good that comes from helping our friends and neighbors. (Every dollar you donate to the Greater Chicago Food Depository provides roughly three meals, and if you want a scope of the need, consider this: In the 2021 fiscal year, the Food Depository distribute nearly 100 million meals.) Everyone who donates has a chance to win FABULOUS PRIZES! These prizes include a chance to chat via Zoom in January with a delightful (and growing) array of notable people, including, in no particular order: Emmy-award winning actor and forever-Fonz Henry Winkler; longtime “General Hospital” star and Evanston native Nancy Lee Grahn; beloved advice columnist Amy Dickinson; NPR’s Peter Sagal, the host of “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me”; WGN-Ch. 9 news anchor Lauren Jiggetts; nationally syndicated columnist (and former colleague!) Heidi Stevens; longtime “Dateline NBC” reporter Josh Mankiewicz; Chicago White Sox play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti; me (boring!); and iconic Chicagoan and WGN-Ch. 9 meteorologist Tom Skilling. (Zoom chats will be assigned based on a random drawing from the list of all donors, performed by Food Depository officials. You’ll be contacted in January if you were selected.) But wait, there’s more! Five lucky donors will be picked at random to receive a five-of-a-kind T-shirt, in the size of their choosing, that reads: “I Gave to the Insult-A-Columnist Holiday Food Drive and the Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke Gave Me This Useless T-shirt!” (I’m designing and paying for the T-shirts and shipping so there’s no cost to the Food Depository.) You’re probably thinking, “Wow, Rex, that’s too much already.” TOO BAD! THERE’S MORE! Rex Huppke Columns Newsletter As it happens Sign up to receive Rex Huppke’s columns by email as soon as they're published. Depending on which team donates more, the aforementioned Tom Skilling will, in a ceremony memorialized on video and shared with the world, either crown me “World Greatest (and Most Handsome) Columnist” or place a dunce cap on my obnoxious head and dub me “World’s Worst (and Least Handsome) Columnist.” And, as always, if the RexStinks team wins, I’ll write a column highlighting all my many failings. If the RexRocks team wins, I’ll pen a barf-inducing piece extolling my many virtues. So get out there and take my archenemy, the oligarch, up on his obnoxiously generous offer. Give until I hurt, people! Sign up here to receive Rex Huppke’s columns by email as soon as they are published.
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