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While channel surfing last night, I ran across CNN's Glenn Beck commenting on the buzz surrounding government bailouts and nationalization. He was half-joking with a guest commentator about the slippery slope we're on, now that the "too-big-to-fail" story seems to be in vogue. After Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, why not Lehman Brothers? Why not Detroit's Big Three? Why not the airline industry? These dudes on CNN had a point: Maybe you can argue that any company's too something to fail.

I realized that this could make a fun party game for gallows-humor aficionados, so I'm going to take a couple of shots. Bear in mind, I'm not commenting on the financial health of any of these companies. But in the spirit of news agencies that already have obits prewritten and ready to roll for famous folks who kick the bucket, why not have some bailout/nationalization excuses ready at hand for every company we can think of, just in case?

  • Too loved to fail: Sirius XM (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) . Can't turn a profit? Onerous debt burden? Who cares! If something bad happened to the now-combined entity of the former satellite-radio competitors, it would be a huge blow to the morale of the massive base of crazed, hate-mailing stock fans across this great nation of ours.
  • Too fashionable to fail: Gap (NYSE: GPS  ) . Nothing celebrates the elegant beauty of "socialized losses" like a mass adoption of khakis.
  • Too granola to fail: Whole Foods Market (NYSE: WFMI  ) . Oops, my bad. The government doesn't seem to want this one to succeed, given its alleged monopolistic death grip on our food supply. Down with hippies!
  • Too spirited to fail: Fortune Brands (NYSE: FO  ) . Fortune Brands provides Jim Beam and other spirits -- a matter of national security. A numb, drunken, apathetic populace is exactly what we need right now.
  • Too green to fail: Heelys (Nasdaq: HLYS  ) . Bet you didn't see that one coming. Why spend money we need for bailouts on alternative-energy R&D, when wheeled shoes are the simple answer to so many of our problems, including obesity rates?
  • Too medicinal to fail: Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY  ) . One word: Prozac.
  • Too perky to fail: Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) . It has an exclamation point, and that's a heck of a lot more cheerful than a question mark. We don't like question marks! Those denote actual questions! Plus, we're fond of saving yahoos these days.

Our current situation is no laughing matter. The "moral hazard" issue is an increasingly urgent one, and I'm not exactly thrilled with the "nationalization" trend. But sometimes you've got to laugh so you won't cry. Feel free to add your own ideas of companies that are too "something" to fail in the comments box below.

Eli Lilly is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Gap is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Whole Foods Market and Gap are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Whole Foods Market. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (10)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2008, at 4:27 PM, JGBFool wrote:

    iRBT-- too cool to fail

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2008, at 4:35 PM, rexbc wrote:

    JP Morgan - Too Saved To Fail

    Everyone knows that it was JP Morgan that had the most to lose (and gain) in a collapsed Bear Sterns, and that in the end, our "small government" good ol boys were only too glad to siphon Americans 28 Billion dollars to JP Morgan to give them a company that was in fact, still in good shape. If you take the 28B plus the 15B Bear Sterns was approx worth (when a few well coordinated banks started their run on Bear) JP Morgan made out like a Bandit! And all at the expense of shareholders, employees, and tax payers.

    So my vote goes to JP Morgan because they are.. "Too Saved to Fail" ;-)

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