Cartoon by Rob Rogers of The Pittsburg-Post Gazette in Pennsylvania and published on 16 June 2009.
In this cartoon, Mr. Rogers is commenting on the new landmark tobacco legislation that passed the Congress giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the first time major authority over the regulation of tobacco products. He is mocking the new tough position that Congress is taking while asserting that they have always been in bed with Big Tobacco.
1. to be in bed with – The meaning of this visual idiomatic expression is quite obvious. It means to be very closely involved with another person or group. It implies that intrigue is involved. In the cartoon, it refers to the large amounts of money given to the election campaigns of Congress members by tobacco companies with the hope of influencing said members in favor of the tobacco industry.
2. Big Tobacco – This is a pejorative term often used by those critical of the tobacco industry. Those using this expression are trying to assert that the tobacco industry’s lobbying and influential power in the government and the economy is too powerful. It is an attempt to portray the industry as menacing. This technique is also commonly used to describe other industries someone is being critical of. The other two commonly criticized industries are Big Oil and Big Pharma (for the pharmaceutical industry).
3. to get tough on – This expression is quite clear and often over used by politicians promising to get tough on crime or corruption for example. It simply means to become strict or severe with something.