Don’t tell me that our country’s airlines aren’t innovators! Take U.S. Airways, for example — it’s the one that pioneered the placement of advertising on its fold-down tray tables.

Not content to rest on its laurels, U.S. Air has now taken another innovative step: It is putting ads on its barf bags! A spokesman says, “We figure while it’s there, why don’t we make it multi-purpose?” The airline is hoping to squeeze some profit out of a nauseating situation — but, I wonder how many customers will pause to peruse an ad before … you know, barfing?

Not only are ads creeping onto barf bags, but also onto the more prestigious spaces in our culture. For example, the same day that U.S. Air announced its latest advance, the staid old Wall Street Journal said that it will accept ads on its front page — a space once considered sacred and reserved strictly for journalism. The Journal’s upstairs boys note that this prime journalistic real estate could bring in tens of millions of bucks a year … so the bright line between journalism and advertising now will be blurred.

The publisher brags that his paper’s front page “will provide the most valuable opportunity anywhere in any medium for advertisers who want to reach a large, affluent, and influential audience.” The corporate brass has even dubbed the front-page ad a “jewel box.”

What jewels might go in this box? The Journal says that it will offer the ad space first to its premium advertisers, such as Mercedes-Benz. But a Mercedes spokeswoman says the company is not convinced that a costly, full-color ad on the news page is a good idea. As an advertising agent said: “Putting ads where readers don’t want them is, in a way, like being spammed.”

If the Journal can’t get the high-tone advertisers, I’ll bet U.S. Air would be interested in promoting its ad-covered barf bags on the paper’s front page.

Jim Hightower is a political commentator and former Texas agriculture commissioner. This article was distributed by