The John Locke Foundation occasionally fields telephone calls from people who believe the monthly print Carolina Journal parody article documents a true story.

Who can blame them for their errors when truth so often mimics the absurd?

Take the case of the July 2011 parody (available for PDF download here), which begins:

North Carolina cultural and tourism officials claim the federal trial of John Edwards for campaign finance violations might deliver a $54 million economic impact to the state.

The state will be flooded with national and international journalists for a trial that may last several weeks, and officials believe regular tourists will come if they can watch the trial in an exclusive setting.

That was a parody. Today’s News & Observer tells us — in all seriousness — the following:

“Overall, I think it’s been a very good thing. Certainly for the local economy, it’s been very good,” said Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of downtown Greensboro Inc., an economic development group.

While some crimes can seem to taint a whole community, neither the misdeeds to which Edwards has admitted nor the crimes with which he is charged are alleged to have happened in Greensboro. The trial is here because Edwards lives in Orange County in the federal court’s Middle District, which has its main office in Greensboro.

On television news broadcasts and in photos published around the world, the city is mostly just a tidy backdrop for the drama that is U.S. vs. John Edwards.

In his eight years as clerk of court, John Brubaker has never seen another case in Greensboro that attracted this much attention.

Perhaps officials should have taken CJ‘s parody more seriously. They could have made some money from the “big-screen viewing event” at the Greensboro Coliseum.