The Washington TimesAdrienne T. Washington today goes on the offensive against overreaching government. Her Metro column blasts the “grannies” in MoCo for taking up a measure that would ban restaurant foods cooked in trans fats, a la New York. That’s all fine and de rigueur for a paper like the Washington Times.

But then Washington hops on a sentimental cliche that columnists have ridden for ages: the old small-businesses-are-suffering line.

After decrying this trend of excessive regulation, Washington says that the public health and safety bans “are none too helpful to some small owners of hospitality businesses.” (Note to WaTi copy desk: It should read, “some owners of small hospitality businesses,” lest readers think you’re not addressing large-framed tavern owners.)

And then Washington’s editors fall asleep, as evidenced by the following graphs:

“Some bar owners in the District, for example, are complaining about the drop in their clientele, especially during happy hours, since the smoking ban was enacted earlier this year.”

Fine, but let’s see some receipts. This is a common post-ban refrain—-Gee, we’re not getting the crowds for happy hour. Perhaps true, but hardly definitive. Bars, after all, are open all night long, long enough for a lot of clean-air-loving folks to drop in for a pop. Open up your books, owners, and let’s see the proof.

“I know a group of guys who used to spend a lot of their money in a small D.C. eatery who now often meet in a private home to enjoy their cigarettes and cigars in peace.”

My, Adrienne, how definitive is that!!! The cash thrown around by this “group of guys” promises to send the D.C. economy into a tailspin. As for me, I’ll be happy they’re not blowing poison down my windpipe.