For a brief moment last week, Walmart took the early lead in the perfect gag gift standings for the coming holiday season.
Among its wares, the discount goliath trades in motivational posters. They’re the kind you often find in Aunt Kathy’s bathroom, featuring scenes of sunsets and nature’s wonders, overlaid with quotes meant to comfort or inspire.
But one seemed more designed to evoke laughter. Or perhaps consternation.
It featured a scene from what appears to be the California coast, replete with this heartrending gem: “Spending more time with my colleagues outside the Capitol helps build bipartisan relationships.”
The prophet behind these stirring thoughts? Eden Prairie Congressman Erik Paulsen.
The 24x20 laminated poster ran $13. It was destined to be a hot-seller this Christmas season, perfect for that policy wonk in your life who’s impelled by soaring press release prose, or that sly cousin who relishes in the irony of utter bullshit.
Paulsen, as you may have heard, is not exactly the poster child of bipartisanship. He votes 97.7 percent of the time with Donald Trump, making him as independent as a corporal in the North Korean army. He also ranks eighth in the entire U.S. House for glomming onto special interest money. After a decade in Congress, his record is one of allegiance to whoever’s writing the biggest check, not the altruism of working across the aisle.
But within days of offering this “famous quote,” Walmart mysteriously pulled the poster from sale. “This item is no longer available,” read the retailer’s website.
Walmart didn’t respond to a query about why Paulsen’s deep thoughts were no longer worthy of the consuming public, or why the noted philosopher’s words were chosen in the first place.
Which means you’ll have to settle for the poetic reflection of a lesser mind, like Wayne Gretzky:
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take,” reads a wall decal sticker selling for $24.99.