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With huge New Year's Eve celebrations and college football bowl games only days away, the U.S. government last month dispatched scores of casually dressed nuclear scientists with sophisticated radiation detection equipment hidden in briefcases and golf bags to scour five major U.S. cities for radiological, or "dirty," bombs, according to officials involved in the emergency effort. "Our guys can fit in `at` a sports stadium, a construction site or on Fifth Avenue," one Energy Department Official said. "Their equipment is configured to look like anybody else's luggage or briefcase."
Washingtonpost.com, Jan. 7, 2004

EXCERPTS FROM THE U.S. ENERGY DEPARTMENT'S SPRING 2004 CASUALWEAR CATALOG:

The skies above us may be a hazy shade of winter right now, but the color chart at the DOE will be screaming "code ochre" all through the spring. The impending thaw is going to bring with it a whole new spate of fashion dilemmas and national-security crises, which is why we're providing this preview catalog of everything the well-dressed nuclear scientist will be wearing this season. With these casual togs thrown across their backs, our guys will be guaranteed to fit in anywhere -- in a sports stadium, at a construction site or even on Fifth Avenue!

And in keeping with the idea that every day is casual Friday at the DOE, we've included a smattering of essential accessories that can make any nuke-hunting outfit come alive. To requisition your favorites, just fill out the order form on the inside back cover and turn it in to your supervisor before Feb. 20. What could be easier? Nothing! As we like to say here at the department, looking good while feeling confident isn't rocket science.

It's nuclear science.

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ITEM #313 -- REVERSIBLE ALL-SEASON JACKET -- This one's half-fleece, half-nylon and all-American! Displaying the soft fleece side (resplendent with hand-stitched DOE logo) will let all the other dads on the sidelines of your kid's soccer game know that you're nobody to mess with. When trouble rears its ugly head, turn the jacket -- and Osama's plans -- inside out, revealing a totally incognito, logo-free nylon outergarment that's just perfect for clandestine ops. Item includes zip pockets and elastic sleeve cuffs that are easily rolled up the minute the Prexy issues his next order to "Git 'em!" One size fits most.

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ITEM #459A -- LOW-IMPACT LOAFERS -- We don't have to tell you that a full day of hunting for purloined nuclear materials can really get a man's dogs barking. Whether you're clambering over the rocky environs of the Hoover Dam or padding up and down Fifth Avenue in search of an errant radiation spike, you can't afford to be sidelined by a bad set of bunions. The DOE's patented slip-on footwear is isometrically engineered to minimize the wear and tear on your tender tootsies, while the easy-on-the-eyes outer construction fosters a nonthreatening, after-hours look that says, "Nothing funny going on here, citizen!" Tasseled styles are available for assignments to San Francisco.

ITEM #235 -- AUTHENTIC ATHLETIC JERSEY -- Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has been known to say that a DOE official at a public sporting event looks about as natural as a colored guy at a job fair. Shows what Rummy knows.

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Our 100 percent wool jerseys don't just help you fend off a spring chill as you scan a stadium crowd for signs of trouble; they're all-in-one assimilation devices that broadcast your feigned allegiance to the Bears, the Yankees or (God forbid) the Washington Capitals. As an extra study aid, sewn into the lining is a washer-safe list of all currently active pro teams, allowing for maximum heinie-covering should a drunken fan engage you in an unsolicited debate about the state of some overpaid idiot's rotator cuff.

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ITEM #184-C - DELUXE GOLF BAG -- Just because you're a babe in the pro-sporting woods doesn't mean that you're a loser on the links, right? This handsome and durable specialty bag is versatile enough to hold your prized nine iron, a month's worth of tees and the world's most sophisticated radiation detection equipment, all with equal comfort and security. A sewn-in activity meter lets you know when your ball goes into the rough or a Saudi national carries a lump of uranium into Rhode Island. Available in any color, as long as it's black.

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ITEM #705 -- CLASSIC-FIT CHINOS -- These suckers resist wrinkles the way Howard Dean dodged the draft. Hour 48 of your mission finds you looking just as cool, calm and collected as you did in Hour One, with nary a crease to show for all the times you had to bend over and listen at the door of a watch-repair shop that wouldn't stop going tick, tick, tick. Slim fit is perfectly suited to the average field op's diet of coffee and energy bars. Machine wash, tumble dry, deny everything.

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ITEM# 884-S - MEN'S PAJAMAS -- Form follows function in this value-priced collection of designer-quality sleepwear, offered in tasteful shades of khaki, canary and what we think might be mauve. Cotton-flannel construction is enhanced by color-coordinated piping and a snap fly, just in case all this nuclear-intrigue jazz actually scores you some trim for once. And to make sure you get a good night's rest, all our PJs contain a built-in chemical agent that releases psychotropic drugs into your system as you sleep, erasing your worries that New Year's Eve has come and gone and you still haven't found even one of the dirty bombs that are out there. Somewhere. Waiting. To go off. Nighty-night!


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