DC smokers, will you accept the Great American Smokeout Challenge, sponsored by the American Cancer Society? If you’re feeling up to the task—which involves abstaining for one day (today)—check out the society’s guide to quitting and staying that way (sadly, the guide was unavailable to one Mark Twain, the speaker of this post’s title. Perhaps with it, he would’ve quit only once, but I doubt it.)

For those of you who are too cool to quit, join me in asking Michael Kinsley to extend to us his blessing of President-Elect Barack Obama’s addiction.

Kinsley’s opening graf is great:

It is still okay to discriminate against one group of Americans. This discrimination is not only legal, it is encouraged. You see members of this oppressed minority huddled outside in rain and snow, forbidden to seek refuge. No one feels sorry for them. And yet we may have just elected one of these pariahs as president.

As is his reasoning for leaving Obama be:

Obama’s steely calm is now one of our country’s major assets. If he needs an occasional cigarette to preserve it, let’s hand him an ashtray, offer him a light and look the other way.

Everything in between those two points, which come at the beginning and end of Kinsley’s essay, is tsk-tsk white noise. (If I may be so bold, Why do talking heads refrain from haranguing overeaters with the same ferociousness that they attack smokers? I know the answer, but it’s worth pointing out—at every available opportunity—that public health nuts are inconsistent with their bullying.)

I did a quick poll of two of Washington City Paper’s former smokers, and neither believes that smoking is the only means of preserving Obama’s “steely calm” (though one of them suggested that it would be a rough week in the country if Obama decided to quit cold turkey). The argument is bunk for another reason: “whether to meddle” shouldn’t be decided on a sliding scale of importance. If the president is important enough to be left alone, we all are. And if he’s not, we’re all fucking doomed.

In honor of the day, I’ve unearthed a delightful rebuttal to the “those things will kill you” crowd, and it comes courtesy of the poet Graham Lee Hemminger:

Tobacco is a dirty weed.  I like it. It satisfies no normal need.  I like it. It makes you thin, it makes you lean, It takes the hair right off your bean It’s the worst darn stuff I’ve ever seen. I like it.

I like it, so I do it.

Good luck to all you quitters. Today, I’ll smoke your ‘baccy for ya.