What price a night with Mitt Romney? Now you could probably have a Michelin-starred dinner with change from £100 (Mitt doesn't drink) but when the 2012 US Presidential election was at its epoch back in October, you wouldn't get much change from $1,000 (£615). And you'd have to share your meal with Romney's exhausted campaign staff.
In other words, an awful date.
A US election campaign – for a non-incumbent – lasts the best part of two years and the costs are obviously enormous. Romney's campaign raised $467m to tout their candidate, though much of that was spent on TV ads. But lugging a private jet around the 50 states (or, more accurately, the handful of winnable swing states) doesn't come cheap, either. Indeed, campaign expenses came in at $45m. And now they want some of it back.
Well, not back exactly. The press corps and the campaigns agreed prices in advance for attendance on Romney's buses only afterwards to find out they were being charged, for example, a Rolling Stones-worthy $745 per person to attend the Vice-Presidential debate. One of several events where food for (and paid for by) the media was eaten by campaign staff.
The news companies have hit back, with senior editors at the likes of the New York Times, the Washington Post and BuzzFeed writing a letter to campaign manager Matt Rhoades – and published in Buzzfeed – complaining that they've been fleeced more royally than the customers in a dodgy West End steakhouse.
The Romney campaign should really have thought about who they were dealing with. One of the news agencies, concerned with $1,000-a-day ground transport costs, called the bus companies and discovered the costs given by the Romney campaign were much higher than the ones charged by the bus agencies. The money-spinning success of Bain Capital suddenly makes more sense.
For the sake of the blood pressure of British newspapers' managing editors, we can thank our stars that British elections only last 17 days and rarely involve hacks straying further from Westminster than Taunton.