To cleanse the palate. You tell me: Is CEO Howard Schultz…

(a) an earnest concerned citizen who’s doing what little he can to nudge the parties towards fiscal sustainability?
(b) a registered Democrat who’s eager to see an anti-ObamaCare shutdown foiled? (“I don’t pretend that both parties are equally to blame for this crisis.”)
(c) a self-interested corporate executive who doesn’t want to find out what hitting the debt ceiling would do to his bottom line?
(d) a shrewd advertiser who, like many political groups right now, knows an easy opportunity to build a mailing and drum up some extra business when he sees one?

I’ll accept “all of the above.”

This is one area where we can help put our country back on the right track. Using our collective scale for good, this Friday Starbucks and others will distribute a petition (www.ComeTogetherPetition.com) asking Congress and the White House to:

First, reopen our government to serve the people
Second, pay our debts on time to avoid another financial crisis
Third, pass a bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal by the end of the year.

Starbucks will offer up its thousands of stores across the nation to give the millions of customers who come through our stores every week, and thousands of partners (employees) who serve them, an opportunity to have their voices heard by signing our petition. Please join us in doing what you – and your companies – can to give the American people the voice they currently lack, and are desperately crying out for. And in the process, you can help to restore faith and trust in our government through your civil words and deeds.

Not the first time he’s pulled a stunt in the midst of D.C. gridlock. Two years ago, during the last debt-ceiling standoff, he asked Starbucks baristas in Washington to write “Come Together” on coffee cups, a gimmick so feeble (if not quite as feeble as, say, this) that it makes the petition gambit look Churchillian by comparison. He claims on the Starbucks website that he’s doing this because “the American people have no platform with which to voice their frustration with Washington,” which I’m … pretty sure isn’t true. They’ve got e-mail, phone numbers, and of course polls showing that Congress is now less popular than hemorrhoids and dog sh*t. Message received. Schultz seems to be aiming for some sort of demographic sweet spot that’s high-minded enough to be excited to sign a petition to Congress and gullible enough not to see this as a lure to bring an extra few of them into the store this weekend. Is there any demographic like that in America? Even teens are savvy enough about advertising to spot a publicity stunt when they see it. I think.

Exit question: Is this related to last month’s polite request for gun owners to leave their weapons at home from now on? Lefties were annoyed at him for being “Second-Amendment-friendly” under their old policy, righties are annoyed at him now that the policy’s been revoked. A kumbaya “come together” moment to increase the peace in Congress might get both of them off his back a bit. Click the image to watch.

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