Down East 2013 ©
According to a respected group of cartographers (those are people who graph carts or, possibly, cartos, whatever they might be), if Maine were a country,  it would be Morocco.
Actually, the cartographers said Maine would be “Moroco,” which seems to indicate that many people who graph carts for a living aren’t proficient in spellology, which is the study of what letters go in particular words, a practice that’s greatly enhanced by hitting the spell-check function on your computer once in a while.
Anyway, these carto folks came up with map of the United States identifying every state as a foreign country that had about the same gross domestic product. I’m not sure how nations measure GDP, but in my house, the grossest domestic product is dog hair of which we produce several sizable tumbleweeds per day. We sell them to pet shops as Yorkshire terriers.
But back to Morocco. It seems like a nice enough place,  located in northwest Africa almost, but not quite, in Europe, with oil reserves, lots of livestock, a constitutional monarchy, and a terrorism problem.  It resembles Maine in that fishing and tourism are both major industries, and manufacturing cheesy plastic items and iPods are not. It’s different from Maine in that it has camels instead of moose and a standard of living that makes even Washington County look ritzy.
Speaking of looking good by comparison, check out the same map’s assessment of New Hampshire. The Granite State has the same GDP as Bangladesh, which is usually a finalist for poorest nation on the planet. Of course, Bangladesh has approximately one hundred and fifty times as many people as New Hampshire, and its principle manufacturing product is mud, but still. Most status-conscious Mainers would take Morocco any day.
And speaking of being status conscious, no group – not even cartographers – is more so than used car dealers. According to research I have not bothered to conduct, the only occupations that rate lower in the public’s esteem are lawyers, members of Congress, bloggers, actors in infomercials, and former commissioners of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development,  who make racist and other insulting comments during recent speeches in Aroostook County.
You’d think that if I was going to fake the research, my own blogging gig would have rated a little higher. Like above Congress, at least. I’d fire somebody if there was anybody here to fire. Except the dogs, and I need them to keep churning out the hairballs.
Anyway, back to the used car hucksters. These poor folks have been feeling bad about themselves, particularly when they have to ride around in one of the vehicles they’re selling (“Low Mileage! Never Driven By A Lawyer Or Member Of Congress!”), because they were immediately identifiable due to their license plates, which had the words “USED CAR DEALER” where most of us have “VACATIONLAND” or “SAME GDP AS MOROCCO.”
To help boost the self-respect of these poor devils, the state recently changed its rules to allow a kinder, gentler motto. Henceforth, license plates for what were formerly purveyors of barely inspectable rolling death traps will not have to bear the indignity of being identified with used cars.  Instead, they’ll be able to purchase plates that say “INSURANCE SALESMAN.”
No, wait, that’s members of Congress.
The new used car plate will say “PREOWNED CAR DLR.”
That’s obviously a big improvement, and I expect other occupations will follow suit. In short order, we should see new plates for plagiarists (“PREOWNED IDEA DLR”), body snatchers (“PREOWNED ORGAN DLR”), and cartographers (“SPELLOLOGIST”).
Hold everything. I just discovered another Maine-Morocco connection. I’m guessing they have elephants in Morocco – it’s in Africa, after all, where elephants are all over the place, and didn’t Hannibal use them to cross the Alps, thereby inventing elephant skiing – and we may soon have pachyderms right here in Maine.  A veterinarian in Hope wants to rescue an arthritic elephant (crossing the Alps is hard on the knees) from Oklahoma (that’s sort of near the Alps, right? why is there never a cartographer around when you need one?) and bring it to his farm, where it would receive physical therapy and a special license plate (“WIDE LOAD”).
The beast is a former circus performer (tightrope, fire breathing, occasional fill-ins as ringmaster) and this could be the beginning of an exciting new industry for Maine, as both a retirement home for past-their-prime performers and as one of the world’s major sources of elephant dung. (I’m not sure what the latter is used for, but it trails only mud as Bangladesh’s leading export.)
Before long, the state will have pastures full of geriatric lions, tigers, and clowns. Oh my.
Speaking of clowns, the Kora Temple Circus Klown Unit lost a key part of its act this past week, when one of its members was chosen by Gov. Paul LePage as the replacement for his resigned commissioner of Environmental Protection.  Sorry, that appears to be incorrect information fed to me by cartographers who can’t spell.
The real loss was a four-hundred pound box with lights and other gizmos on it. When a clown stepped inside, he or she was able to correctly guess the gross domestic product of any country.
Wrong again. Stop it, you cartographers.
The device was actually labeled the Kora Clowns Weight Loss Machine. And for a while, it appeared it had been stolen out of a truck  parked on a street in Lewiston.
Police immediately started rounding up obese people and anyone wearing excessively baggy clothing, but had to change tactics when it was discovered those categories included three-quarters of the population of Androscoggin County.
Fortunately, before serious jail overcrowding could occur, the mystery was solved.  The machine hadn’t been stolen. It had fallen off the truck in Freeport and been destroyed by a herd of arthritic elephants engaged in physical therapy.
A replacement is now under construction in Morocco.
Al Diamon credits the As Maine Goes website with discovering the Maine-Morocco map and will show his thanks by sending them a box of genuine Yorkshire terriers he’s just swept off the floor. Place your orders by emailing email@example.com .