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Why is it that in almost every scandal around someone rich and powerful getting too big for their britches, there's a commode involved? And why is it that every time said commode comes into the picture, multiple media outlets have to remind us that, in fact, the commode in question is not a toilet, but a rarified cabinet?

The current snooty-cabinet-in-question belongs to recently deposed Merrill Lynch head honcho John Thain, who included a $35,000 specimen as part of his $1.2 million office redecorating project. In 2007 Senator Charles Grassley investigated Joyce Mayer, a pastor in Fenton, Missouri, for using her church's tax-exempt funds to buy a $23,000 commode--with a marble top. And who could forget three years ago, when Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham was charged with illegally accepting an antique French commode (to his credit, Cunningham's was only worth $7,200)?

I could come up with some too-smart-by-half theory about wealthy people and their obsession with French furniture. But it's getting late, so I'll just let you insert your own poop joke here.

--Clay Risen