"To hell with that, send me your money 

You may remember Dustin Diamond, the actor who played Screech in the TV series Saved By The Bell, which aired from 1989 to 1993. Then again, you may not remember him, since that TV series was his lone moment in the national spotlight.

But Screech is counting on you to help him save his $250,000 house. Facing a foreclosure order that would leave the former TV star homeless, Diamond has launched a media blitz to raise the money to bail him out of debt.

His solution is to sell $15 T-shirts ($20, if you want them autographed) on the Internet. If he sells 30,000 shirts, he gets to keep the house. Plain and simple.

It's not a bad idea and it may be Diamond's only hope to save himself from financial ruin. His acting career isn't going anywhere and bill collectors don't seem to care that he was once Screech.

I'd pony up the $15 and help him out but I'm going through some financial hard times myself. My check is getting garnished until the end of the year to pay old medical bills. My side business as a spiritual counselor to wayward women is not doing well.

And going back to my days as a male stripper is out of the question, now that I've gotten a bit older.

I could hold a benefit concert for myself, but I don't like the idea of asking friends of mine to play a show for free. So, instead, I'm going to ask complete strangers to give me cash.

I don't have any T-shirts to sell, except a few stained Hanes Beefy T’s with cigarette burns on them. I don't have a CD or any other incentive to offer.

But send me cash anyway. The amount I need is roughly $10,000, or one-twenty-fifth of what Screech needs.

With 10 grand, I could pay off all my bills, buy a replacement for my 1990 Toyota and take a well-deserved vacation in California. I might also buy one of those new XBox 360s. And I'd pay off my cable bill so I could watch MTV and CNN again.

I also need to pick up the new Madden game when it comes out.

I also need a new bed, couch and loveseat. Ten grand ought to be enough to get most, if not all of those items.

Screech's excuse for being broke is that his parents stole a lot of the money he made before turning 18 and that he's being ripped off by a lawyer this time around.

My excuse is that I had some pretty severe health problems over the past few years and, instead of declaring bankruptcy when I should have, I thought I could somehow slog my way through my bills.

I was wrong and now I'm paying the price.

But, thanks to my Save Hammer program, I can now beg my way to financial success. If Screech can do it, so can I. I've always thought of myself as the Screech of Indianapolis, anyway.

So what do you get for your generous financial donation? Like PBS, there are several layers of sponsorship.

At the "patron" level ($100 or less), you will receive an autographed photo of myself and a baggie of cigarette butts guaranteed to be authentically consumed by me.

At the "contributor" level ($100-$499), you will receive the gifts in the prior package. In addition, I will throw in your choice of an empty box of Franzia wine or an empty bottle of Crown Royal from my household. I'll also autograph a T-shirt from the dollar store.

The deal really gets sweet when you reach the $500-$999 level. You'll receive all the other gifts, several random CDs from my personal collection, a congratulatory phone call from me and the opportunity for me to become your imaginary boyfriend for six months.

I'll send you e-mails, letters and pictures for six months. I will declare undying love and affection. I will leave voice mails that you can play back for your friends as proof of our relationship.

At the end of six months, I will send a long and thoughtful breakup letter. It's much easier than having an actual relationship and only slightly less costly.

Those who contribute $1,000 or more to my campaign will get a lunch with me, a year of an imaginary relationship and all the other prizes listed above.

Who can resist such an offer? If you're going to send money to an imaginary celebrity like Screech, you may as well keep the money in Indiana and send the cash to an even more imaginary celebrity, such as myself.

Actually, I'm just kidding about the donation thing. If you are lucky enough to have extra money, there are many more deserving causes than me. I'm just poking fun at Screech thinking that there are enough people who care about him to send him money — at least $250,000 worth of caring.

On the other hand, if a talented actor like Screech and a local blabbermouth like me can experience hard times, can the rest of America be far behind?

The true answer is that nothing in this country will get better until this administration and Congress are thrown out and we can experience economic prosperity again.

That is a cause worthy of your money. Saving Screech's house isn't.



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