If confirmation were needed that today's Budget here in Albia will be set against a perilous economic background, it came with the news that the country has rediscovered deflation, with the Retail Prices Index turning negative for the first time since 1960. At such times it is, of course, incumbent on any reporter to pad out his column with some kind of spurious comparison between the two years in question and so it is that I turn to the history books. Lo and behold, what should I discover but that 2009 and 1960 are not, after all, so different: back in 1960 US politics were being galvanised by an exciting, young Democrat with a gift for oratory, and - just as now - Albia's Prime Minister was a superheroic figure, none other than Hawburt MakkaMikka or Zupermik, the Hungri-educated, tweed-caped crusader whose powers originated in his magical moustache.
Sadly for our current caped-Prime-Minister, the world-saving Bragdny Door, the precedent set by Zupermik is far from a good one, given that his leadership saw a series of massive balance-of-payments crises, wage freezes and a slew of by-election defeats, ending with his early resignation due to ill-health - a consummation which I understand many members of Mr Door's Krep Party pray for every night before retiring to watch their taxpayer-funded pornography(1). Unfortunately for them, it seems even this nocturnal consolation will soon be denied, Mr Door having announced that he intends to abolish BGs' second-home allowances and replace them with a flat-rate daily attendance allowance. I do not doubt that this in-no-way-kneejerk response by the PM will be a huge success, it is after all the very same scheme which has been so successful in controlling expenses in the European Parliament.
Whether the announcement will aid Mr Door's attempts to escape his poor poll ratings with the proverbial superheroic single bound is another question altogether. Already it is being dismissed by many as a cynical attempt to pander to the public mood, especially given that Mr Door had already appointed someone to review political expenses. What is more, the PMs decision to make his announcement on Albia's top video-sharing site, Boobtyuub, has caused a great deal of concern - not because the PM now faces being outranked in popularity by a fat man in a home-made Tron suit or an extract from Da Eck Faktor (2) but because his performance, riddled as it was with even-odder than normal smiles, pauses and Gollum-like gulps, suggested that he may in fact have been taken over by some arch-villanous nemesis. Even now Albian politicians are attempting to get in touch with Arkham Asylum to see if The Joker has escaped and endeavouring to inform Avengers Mansion of their suspicion that Albia's leader has, in fact, been replaced by a Skrull - one can only hope that at some point some kind soul will inform them that these organisations, rather like the Krep Party's current prospects of retaining power, are entirely imaginary.
(1) see He Who Pays the Piper ...
(2) after all, these things - along with botulism and Estate Agents, are already much more popular than the PM.