This video from Funny or Die portrays a plea from Lex Luthor to the U.S. government for a $100 billion bailout of his failed world-conquest-plus-kill-Superman business model. (Thanks, SF Signal.) This got me thinking: What character from science fiction, comic books, and the like could make best use of the near trillion-dollar bailout fund from Uncle Sam? Certainly, even a supervillain would be smarter with public largesse than the idiots at AIG, right? Let's break it down.Ozymandias (Watchmen) - This guy secretly solved the problem of nuclear war — sans Tic Tac Toe computer — over the objections of every superhero in the world, most of whom had to agree to let him get away with it. Also, he's wealthier as a private individual than any three corporations on Earth, so he's good with numbers. So long as you don't mind a few million casualties and a horrific cover-up, he can untangle this fiscal mess while still making metallic gold stockings look mildly stylish. Expect an Antarctic retreat and gengineered superlynx for every household next Christmas. Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars) - Granted, no amount of money we could give him would fund a Death Star, but given that he snookered the all-seeing Jedi while working right beside them and still managed to organize and fund both sides of the same Clone War without running a deficit, odds are Darth Sidious could finagle a balanced budget and thriving wartime economy, given the right emergency powers. Just don't ask about his contributions to the military-industrial complex or stem-cell research. President Laura Roslin (Battlestar Galactica) - Nobody handles a crisis like Laura Roslin, who assumed the Presidency of the 12 Colonies after the Cylon genocide, took political leadership of the 50,000 surviving humans, brought the one remaining warship in the fleet to heel, and started a Hail Mary trek to salvation across the galaxy. All this while dealing with terminal cancer, no budget, extreme paranoia, and a crappy timeslot on the Sci-Fi Channel. After airlocking a few mortgage brokers and CEOs, she'll have the economy on the upswing in less time than it takes for Colonel Tigh to sober up. Mr. Spock (Star Trek) - The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few — and that includes executive bonus pay. If Spock can cobble together a temporal forecaster using 1940s technology, can retroactively save whales from extinction, and survives death (and franchise reboot) itself, then what chance does a sub-7000 Dow Jones index have? With his logical hand at the tiller, we'll all be Living Long and Prospering before the new Star Trek movie hits Blu-ray. Jubal Harshaw (Stranger in a Strange Land) - He's a doctor, lawyer, journalist, political subversive, and playboy designed as a hyper-capable and hyper-cynical amalgam of Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and Erle Stanley Gardner. He also singlehandedly brought whole planetary governments to their knees and accidentally founded a religion, so you figure a little financial crisis won't be an issue, so long as he has an endless supply of 20-something female assistants. Sarah Connor (Terminator series) - No matter how bad the market for mortgage backed securities may seem, that's nothing compared to fending off an endless procession of nigh-unstoppable cyborg assassins and forestalling an inevitable nuclear apocalypse. She's done it through two movies and a TV series, all while working as a single mom. Give her a few billion, and we'll be living in a Luddite Utopia free of debt, crime, or iPods. Artemis Fowl, II (Artemis Fowl series) - He may be a mere adolescent — and avowed criminal mastermind — but this kid is a prodigy at locating new markets and sources of revenue. Sure, he stole gold from the Fay Kingdoms and wages a cold war against Russian Mafia, but with the right funding, he'll have us solve our energy crisis using fairy dust, and have time machines taking down terrorists throughout history. Just give his Butler a job. Hari Seldon (The Foundation series) - If the guy can use math to solve the complete social collapse of a Galactic Empire, he can probably handle a credit crisis and a real estate downturn. Give him a check with a lot of zeroes, some grad students, and tenure, and we'll be out of this mess — and up to our ears in sentient robots — in no time. Honorable mentions
- Bruce Wayne (Batman) - Good with money and with problems, but we'd need to save more than just Gotham, and you can only build so many asylums to hold your enemies.
- Tony Stark (Iron Man) - We'd all love to have our own impregnable suit of flying armor instead of a car, but his history of alcoholism makes us leery of underwriting his crazy schemes.
- Reed Richards (Fantastic Four) - We'd all have sentient iPods with endless power supplies, but he'd spend half the money exploring the Negative Zone and the other half fighting off the unspeakable threats that leaked in from his pan-dimensional jaunts. Plus, his movies stunk.
- Mal Reynolds (Firefly) - Yeah, he'd take care of his folk and leave people to mind them and theirs, but his anti-government streak can get a little violent, and he's equally likely to just abscond with the funds and give it to orphans and prospectors in the third world(s).
- Lex Luthor (Superman) - See above.
Vote for your favorite fictional economic savior below, and then justify your choice (especially those made for Other) in the comments section.
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Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.