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Then came ex-Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman. One look at him and it is no wonder why he got into the tax-collection business. Chiseled nose, gray, pasty face and dead eyes. The kind of guy who is loathed by everyone around him and he knows it. He is used to being spit upon in public. Doesn’t even look down at the spittle on his suit anymore. He loves to punish people who make just one little mistake — no matter how innocent.

It is why even Jesus struggled to love the tax collectors.

Committee Chairman Max Baucus inquired why nobody in the agency had been fired over the gross violations.

Meatball and the Snake just sat there, staring. Wordless. Mr. Baucus asked again. Meatball thumbed the edge of his glass of water, staring down at the table like a child avoiding his mother’s scolding glare. The room seemed to groan in discomfort.

After a long silence, Mr. Baucus tried again.

“Well, what action did you take?”

Meatball stammered and stuttered a bunch of bureaucratic psychobabble.

They did some training, held some workshops and collated some files, he said in all seriousness. Somebody got “transferred,” Meatball said, before correcting himself and saying the person was actually “reassigned.”

Oh, said Meatball, and then there was the “oral counseling.”

I don’t know what that is, but I am pretty sure it is not one of the programs offered to us if we miss an April 15 deadline.

Charles Hurt can be reached at or on Twitter @charleshurt.