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Not Kansas City, April 9, 2000 - In a surprise move described as positive and financially sound, the state of Kansas has announced a merger with the Wonderful Land of Oz.

In the wake of the Board of Education's decision not to require the teaching of evolutionary theory in public schools, Kansas has been under pressure to improve its image. This merger is anticipated to do just that - as well as teach a valuable lesson.

When the Kansas Board of Education made its decision, it sent a resounding message to a complacent school system. To wit: science hogs a lot of time and money to study things like human origins and soundproof hair gels, yet makes no claim to absolute authority. How, suggested Kansas, can a discipline that uses toothbrushes to unearth relics be considered an authority of any kind?

Taking the initiative, Kansas launched its own anthropological research. It soon found that the world and all things in it were created by a giant green head. Further, it found that "all things" are, in fact, communities of happy dwarves, presided over by pink corseted fairies.

The fairies perform an important social function - in protecting children from bad green women who set buddies on fire. "I'm so relieved that I don't have to rely on public educators to teach kids about these dangers," says Kansas housewife Bertha Aftur. "I mean, they can't even properly teach the classical legend of how Uranus ate his children. Our kids might have even grown up thinking that flying brooms are an ecologically sound mode of travel."

Private citizens aren't the only ones benefitting from the merger. "Now that the giant green head has absolute authority, legislative gridlock has disappeared," says state representative Earl Keck. "Democracy finally works."

Both Kansas and Oz expect to prosper from an influx of tourists. Vacationers can look forward to salons run by hermaphrodites in elf costumes, and shoe stores stocked with bejeweled Air Jordans. Buyers will have the opportunity to test their souls (and soles) against the Wicked Witch of the West.

Not everything will change. For instance, Kansas will retain its deep loathing of things with the initials "WWW". Kansas will also continue its important role as producer of America's corn.

However, the corn will be a magical hybrid created by the great wizard Monsanto. It will be specially formulated to help children grow up into healthy singing dwarves. Children will be encouraged to form civic organizations based on confections and ballet. Says Monsanto spokeswizard Baldur the Balder: "In today's uncertain and violent world, it's important to give kids a future they can look forward to."

Other states plan to follow Kansas' lead and form mergers to bolster their social programs. For example, New York City mayor Rudolph Guiliani has just announced a merger of the Big Apple's public school system with author Danielle Steele.

"Ms. Steele and her numerous ghostwriters will teach our children a valuable lesson about acceptance," says Mr. Guiliani. "Sure, all the heroes in her books are rich, but so are the villains. This teaches that wealth has nothing to do with integrity."

The long-overworked New York police force also looks forward to relief. "We're a long way from eradicating crime," says Sergeant Father O'Malley of Precinct 13. "But Ms. Steele will give us a break by makin' crime more clever and upscale. Now the darn kids are fightin' over the crack trade, but after the merger they'll start murderin' their steel-magnate stepfathers with untraceable poisons. Our beloved city will recapture that romantic aura it's been missing for so long."

Missouri is taking Kansas' Board-of-Education ruling in a more literal way, and accepting public-domain prose poems as its source of absolute authority - vis--vis the original Oz books of L. Frank Baum. "Fanciful poetry often tells the deepest truths, and thus must be regarded infallible," says Joycean scholar Prof. Putterpint Morgan.

Missouri has invited its citizens to submit their suggestions for sources of absolute authority, up until Easter Sunday. So far it's a dead heat between Beowulf in the original Old English, and the "Man From Nantucket" limerick. Either way there'll be plenty of swordplay!

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